When one is on the bus, there are a few things that may be of interest. TVMobile, conversations among aunties about their children’s irresponsible spouses, the incessant, rapid flow of foreign languages/dialects and couples engaging in some major smooching fest. Talk about entertainment, eh? Unless the window is plastered with nauseating, translucent advertisements that restrict my view, the attention has always been on the rows of shophouses I see along the way, in hope of finding an interesting eatery.
I was not aware of this strip as my regular bus route is way off the central district limits but it was she who made the discovery while traveling along Beach Road. The shop's bold name might have piqued her interest, I guess. The best duck rice in Rochor?
To get there, the wiser choice would've been taking the bus from town but feeling adventurous as always, I decided to walk all the way from Bugis MRT station to Beach Road, via Ophir Road . The row of shophouses along Bali Lane sang to me of bohemian rhapsody and I’ve always wanted to check it out ever since. A posher Dunlop Street comes to mind.
We arrived in front of the restaurant, with me perspiring profusely after the walk. There was only 1 occupied table. Sort of doubtful with our choice, we circled the area in search of alternatives. Steamboats, bak kut teh, nasi padang, curries....duck rice, and we ended up in front of the same shop again. At this point, I was famished and yes, soaked in my own sodium bath. Die-die lah. Let's go in!
A dish I aimed for that night, the herbal mutton soup, was sold out. Thank goodness for the other signature dishes that were still available; braised duck and herbal duck soup. As we waited for the dishes, we saw a healthy flow of customers, mostly opting for take-outs. That explained the rather empty restaurant, I guess.
Ten Herbs Duck Soup
Duck Meat Noodles
What I found interesting on the plate of duck rice was the inclusion of cooked vegetables and wood ear fungus, which gave some sweetness (the vege) and crunch. The rice cooked in herbal stock was flavourful and fluffy. Rochor's braised duck was one of the better ones I've tasted in recent times. The generous splash of savoury reduction came only slightly sweet, which was nice. I've tasted another famous duck rice in Bugis where the braising reduction was so sweet, I cringe each time I recall the saccharine nightmare.
Bak Kut Teh aside, I'm not much of a herbal soup fan. Especially when it's considered a tonic for women. But it's a signature and it must be tried. Definitely potent and heaty. I liked the prevailing aroma of Chinese angelica and cinnamon in the warm concoction. Quite appetizing, I must say. The pot came with pieces of duck that were flaky and infused with flavours from the gamut of Chinese herbs. We've tried other dishes as well like the kway chap, which despite the usage of good pork belly, was not melting soft.
If I were to choose a favourite dish that night, it would have been the combination of duck rice and chopped, preserved vegetable. Simple, tasty and just honestly hearty. Like my nasi padang experience of just white rice and some sambal belacan and asam pedas gravy.
Rochor Duck Rice
327 Beach Road