Yes, I'm one of those who went to eat the famous Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice before it closes for good on June 20, 2013.
When news first broke that Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House at South Buona Vista Road is closing shop after 45 years in business, my first thought was, could this be the duck rice which I had loved so many years back? The answer is unfortunately, yes. Situated at the end of the long and winding road which is commonly known to many as "ninety-nine turns" (say "九十九弯" in Hokkein), it was the eating place to be at whenever my friends and I craved for a simple meal of Teochew Boneless Braised Duck Rice. We affectionately called it the 九十九弯鸭饭. How many of you remember it by this name too? Hands up!
Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice somehow fall out of my food radar ever since I don't keep in contact with that group of friends anymore. Besides, it's not located exactly at the most convenient of location for someone like me who don't drive. But I die die must eat it before it closes lah!!! A big YAY to Joey who suggested that we visit the place for lunch after church service on Sunday. The drive through the winding road sure brought back lots of poignant memories.
But guess what, it's closed! Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice does not open on Sundays! For those of you who are planning to visit too, please do take note. Not giving up until we get our intense longing satisfied, Joey and I, together with Alena (the NicJA gals), went back again on a Monday evening, and this time round, YES, it's opened!
We had expected the place to be crowded with deluge of customers flocking over before the place closes, but surprisingly it's not. But I heard from another friend that it's extremely crowded during lunch time though. So if you want to avoid the crowd and queuing, it's best to visit in the evening. But not too late, in case the duck gets sold out for the day already.
As we took our seats in the rustic, non-airconditioned eating house, we were greeted by an affable auntie who then rattled off a list of items we should order. There is no menu, everyone comes here for the same things. Our order of Braised Duck (3-pax portion), Egg, Beancurd, Kangkong, 3 rice, 1 porridge and 3 drinks came up to a total of S$28.40 only.
If you're wondering why I'm posting so many pictures of the rice, porridge and gravy, it's because I love them! I can just eat the plain white rice with lots of gravy and sweet vinegar chilli. The brown gravy is superbly delish, a well balanced taste of sweet and savory, richly flavored with cinnamon as well as other herbs and spices. Its texture is velvety smooth, not too thin and not overly gooey. I would say, it's the perfect accompaniment! If the duck gets an award for being the star dish, the gravy should get the award for best supporting role.
The duck is braised to a wonderfully tender and moist texture. Thinly sliced and boneless, Lim Seng Lee is the pioneer at serving duck this way back in 1968. Apparently, they are not selling their recipe because even with the recipe, other people would not know how to chop the duck, which is said to be more important than the cooking. I do not know the methodology behind it, I only know this is an awesome plate of duck meat, doused with delicious gravy, a taste most suitable for my palate!
We also ordered the braised egg, not so for its non-existent outstanding flavor, but for the standard match with the duck rice. Though ordinary, the meal would somehow seemed incomplete without it.
The beancurd dish gets our thumbs-up for its simple homely taste. A pairing of silky smooth tofu with tau pok (deep fried tofu puffs) braised in a light gravy and topped with fried shallots and spring onions, the flavor is very subtle yet tasty.
The mildly spicy stir-fried kangkong is my personal must-order to go with porridge! Think leafy crunchiness with umami dried shrimps and tummy warming comfort. Ooh... how I wish it was raining that evening.
No, this is not the owner, Mr Lim Ah Too, but the very friendly uncle who walks around the shop collecting payments, cracking us up with his promise of a personal duck feast should we miss the duck rice after it closes. "Just call him lah", he said. Lol. I would love to have a photo with Mr Lim himself and thank him for standing by his craft for so many years before finally giving way to his poor health. But guessed he's busy chopping up plates after plates of duck for all the customers.
As the sun sets on the famous Teochew Boneless Duck Rice, Lim Seng Lee will always remain in my heart as one of the best eateries around. As much as I'm saddened by the news of its closure, I also rejoiced at the many wonderful memories it has left me.
Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House
Address: 38 South Buona Vista Road, Singapore 118164
Contact: +65 64759908
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8.30pm / Closed on Sundays