This story was first published in The Straits Times on July 30, 2013
The famous boneless braised duck from Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House in South Buona Vista Road is back, and is now located in Sam Leong Road in Little India.
South Buona Vista Road Famous Teochew Boneless Duck Rice opened two weeks ago at Kim San Leng Eating House, a five-minute walk from Farrer Park MRT station.
It is run by Mr Ang Chiap Teck, the brother- in-law of Lim Seng Lee's founder, Mr Lim Ah Too. He had worked at the South Buona Vista Road shop for 28 years, until Mr Lim decided to close it last month due to ill health.
Two former staff are helping Mr Ang.
The duck rice, with its distinctive herbal gravy flavoured with cinnamon, used to attract diners from across the island. They would drive to the coffee shop for the tender boneless duck meat, fragrant brown rice and spicy chilli.
Unfortunately, Mr Lim's four children did not want to take over the business.
He is said to have given his blessing to Mr Ang to revive the 45-year-old business.
Mr Ang, 54, says in Mandarin: "I spoke with him before I decided to start the business again. There is no change to the recipe. He has come to try the food too.
"My children didn't want me to start again, but I wanted to continue the tradition for as long as possible, until I have to retire. What we do every- day is a skill, it would be a pity to have it die off so quickly."
Prices for the duck rice (with either white or brown rice) start at $3.50, which is 50 cents cheaper than when it was at Lim Seng Lee.
Mr Ang says: "We are catering to workers in the area. Also, my rent is cheaper and I have fewer staff on the payroll."
The stall also serves the same signature sambal dishes including squid (from $6), prawn (from $8), kangkong and tofu (from $4 each).
Out of respect for the elderly Mr Lim, Mr Ang decided not to use the Lim Seng Lee name at his stall. Mr Ang says: "He retired with glory, so the name should retire with him. Anyway, when people see the signboard saying South Buona Vista Road duck rice, they will know it's us. Regulars will know it's me."
Since Lim Seng Lee's closure, Mr Ang has been approached by various restaurants and investors looking to rope him into their ventures. But he has turned down every offer.
He says: "I prefer running my own stall. There's more freedom."
Business was fairly slow when Life! visited the stall yesterday, with diners - many of them regulars - trickling in from noon.
Mr Ang sells about 20 ducks a day, about a third of what Lim Seng Lee used to sell each day.
Car mechanic Tan Cheng Tee, 59, who visits the area for work, says in Mandarin: "I used to go to Lim Seng Lee occasionally for duck rice. The duck rice here tastes pretty much the same. I like the duck meat as it is very tender."
Contractor Fong Chee Moon, 41, who was tucking into duck rice and sambal kangkong with his wife yesterday, has been a fan since its heyday in South Buona Vista Road.
He says in Mandarin: "I used to order duck rice in advance, so I've always kept in contact with the owner. When I knew they opened in Sam Leong Road, I had to come. In the last two weeks, I have already eaten here three times.
"The taste hasn't changed and it's cheaper here too."
South Buona Vista Road Famous Teochew Boneless Duck Rice is located at Kim San Leng Eating House, 16 Sam Leong Road. It opens from 9am to 7.30pm daily.