Thursday, June 8, 2017

( Hong Kong Jin Tian ) : they are back but not with Arp Geok Pau (鸭脚包)

Simon, their customer left a comment on the post that I wrote about Hong Kong Jin Tian, to inform that they are back in a coffee shop at Ubi about a week ago. I decided to go follow up. Mr Yip Kowk Ching, 62 and Mrs Yip moved from Hong Kong to Singapore about 30 years ago, they started Hong Kong Jin Tian (香港錦田) at Tiong Bahru, a popular eatery serving Hong Kong style roast meat and their speciality is Arp Geok Pau (Duck Leg Wrap) or 鸭脚包, in Chinese, is hardly found in Singapore though it used to be a popular dish in the 70s and 80s. The eatery was shut down on 27 April 2014. They re-opened on 15 July 2014 in one of those shops along Zion Road but was closed in 2015. I visited them there and wrote an article on Makansutra at that time. 

This time, they started as a hawker stall in a coffee shop. I was there at about 11 am on a weekday and went around looking for the signboard that spelt 'Hong Kong Jin Tian" but I did not see it there and I thought that information might be incorrect. Then, I spotted a man that resembled Mr Yip and went to ask, "This, used to be Hong Kong Jin Tian?". He nodded and then he replied in Cantonese but I only understand little Cantonese. He was trying to tell me that they could not use 'Hong Kong Jin Tian' as their signboard and they will be taxed heavily for doing so. Their new stall does not have a name and with just a generic signboard. 

And then, I saw Mrs Yip in the kitchen. I waved at her and said, "I recognise her, she is 叶太 (Mrs Yip)." That was how she like to be addressed when I met her about 2.5 years ago. She asked, "Do you purposely make a trip here?". I nodded. She then said, "你们很有心." She also mentioned that some of their regular customers visited and managed to recognise them. 

I ordered a plate of Roasted Duck and Sio Bak rice ($4) with their Soup of the Day ($3), which was Yamaimo Soup. The overall standard of their roasted meat is still as good. They are not able to make Arp Geok Pau now as their current kitchen is quite small and they will need a long table to lay out all the ingredients when making that delicate dish. They are still able to do suckling pig through an advance order. Their business was better when they started last week but a bit quieter this week and she thought it should be due to the school holidays. Mr Yip mentioned that they have to travel an hour from Tiong Bahru to their stall now. They used to own a stall at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre but have since given up as they planned to retire at that time. 

Mrs Yip joined me at the table and we chatted, it left me feeling heavy-hearted after hearing her story. She said in her heavily Cantonese accent Chinese, "We were left with no choice but to close our shop in Zion Road because my younger son decided to quit quite suddenly." She shared about what happened then. I remember she told me then that they actually wanted to retire but opened that shop for their sons as they have already mastered the required skills and interested in carrying on the trade. 

She also talked about the main reason for starting this food stall as they are hoping their younger son will join them later. Mrs Yip, said, "I have a feeling that it is going to happen very soon. No matter what happens, he is still my son." Apparently, it is all about a mother's love. 

I left my number with her so she could contact me if they decide to relocate again.

Block 3014B Ubi Road 1 Stall Number 11 SINGAPORE 408722
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.00 pm (Monday to Friday)

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