South Buona Vista Braised Duck in Desker Road closing due to rental woes
It is with a heavy heart that the owner of South Buona Vista Braised Duck, Mr Ang Chiap Teck, has decided to close his eatery. Its last day of operations is Feb 7.
The 64-year-old says in Mandarin: “It is not a decision I take lightly because I have poured my heart into honing my skills at braising duck for the last 41 years.”
The new landlord of his rented shophouse unit in Desker Road wants to double the rental when his current lease expires at the end of February 2024.
Mr Ang says: “We have been grappling with the increasing costs of ingredients and a lack of manpower. With the rental increase, the business will not be sustainable.”
He also expects operating costs to increase, with the hike in the goods and services tax to 9 per cent in January.
He learnt to cook Teochew-style braised duck from his brother-in-law, Mr Lim Ah Too, who founded Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House in South Buona Vista Road in 1968.
Mr Ang, who had been working as a hawker assistant, joined his brother-in-law in 1982 as the eatery needed workers. He started as an apprentice and was promoted to head cook three years later.
When his brother-in-law decided to retire and close his eatery in 2013, Mr Ang sought his blessing to venture out on his own. He rented a coffee shop stall in Sam Leong Road and set up his business in that same year, calling it South Buona Vista Road Famous Teochew Boneless Duck Rice.
In 2021, he moved to his current location at 81 Desker Road, a standalone eatery which can seat up to 50 diners and has a sprawling kitchen space. The name was shortened to South Buona Vista Braised Duck.
Regulars love the tender slices of braised duck doused in a glossy and viscous jet-black sauce that is gently spiced with star anise, cloves and cinnamon. The backbone of the braising sauce is premium dark soya sauce, which imparts a light caramel hue to the duck.
Prices start at $6 for a one-person serving, with a whole braised duck priced at $45. Other popular items include sambal kangkong ($8) and sambal tofu ($8).
The eatery operates from 9.30am to 5pm, Fridays to Wednesdays. It is closed on Thursdays.
Mr Ang starts work at 4am, preparing his braising sauce and cooking the duck. His wife, Madam Lily Lim, 66, is in charge of taking orders and serving customers.
Mr Ang says he has turned down offers from investors keen to help him expand and open more outlets selling his brand of braised duck. “I am concerned about maintaining the quality of my braised duck,” he says.
Marketing manager Lee Boon Hong, 70, started dining at Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House in 1980 and subsequently became a regular at Mr Ang’s eatery. He says: “It is another sad reminder of how time flies.”
Mr Ang says he hopes to continue working in the food and beverage industry, although he has no concrete plans yet. He hopes to land a position as a consultant or trainer to teach others his skills in cooking Teochew-style braised duck.