Makansutra: Sambals steal the show at Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut
Halal eatery does a good fried duck, but the best part are the dips
Duck is gamey, dry and not easy to cook. Its texture is on the tough side, so it is not as popular as it should be.
I am fussy about how my ducks are cooked. I am particular about how smooth, crispy and well-roasted the skin should be if it is roasted, such as in Peking Duck.
I am fastidious about how perfectly the duck must be sliced if it is Teochew-braised and how well the gaminess is contained if it is in a Thai red curry or a kiam chye ark (salted vegetable duck soup).
French duck confit, to me, is for folks who have not tried a good version of any of the above.
So it was with trepidation that I tried this "highly recommended" bebek goreng (fried duck).
Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut is at Lucky Plaza, a mall not known for Muslim fare.
People go there to chomp on the famous Filipino Jollibee fried chicken or a plate of sizzling pork sisig with rice.
First, I tried Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut's classic Original Crispy Fried Duck with Rice ($9.90). It came looking like a dried and fried chunk of fowl with some crispy flour bits sprinkled on it.
But the meat was moist, and the hint of gaminess was perfect for the fluffy, soft and sweet steamed rice it came with.
The crispy flour bits, tempeh and tahu were just textures and flavours to enhance the joy. You have to chew the duck slowly for maximum pleasure.
The best part was the sambals the dish came with.
If you ask politely, the friendly staff may offer you - they normally do not - up to five types of sambal: plain chilli sambal, sambal hijau (green chilli), kicap sambal (sweet soy sauce with pounded chilli), sambal terasi (sambal belacan) and sambal matah (Bali-style raw sambal).
Be polite and plead for all five. You will not be disappointed.
The other popular dish is the Sangan Crispy Fried Duck ($10.50) or "fried with no oil" duck. I reckon the duck is grilled then lightly fried to lock in flavours.
It was less oily and just as flavourful as the classic, but I loved the sinful original version.
If chicken is your thing, the eatery has the Original Smashed Fried Chicken ($7.90).
As expected, it also came moist. You can tell that Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut do not pre-fry the orders.
On the dessert front, I think it overdid its take on "less sweet". The pink Ice Campur ($3.90) with beans and black jelly could do with more crystals of sugar.
Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut (halal)
304, Orchard Road, #01-42 to 44,
Open 11.30am to 10pm daily
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets and has his own TV shows on cable. He publishes food guides and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram