Last Updated: June 18, 2019
Count yourself lucky if your office is near one of those well-loved hawker centres housing multiple hawker gems. Not just the stalls with a bright and shining approval of The Michelin Guide, but especially the honorary ones with snaking queues.
The concept of a quiet moment is quite foreign at Cheng Heng Kway Chap And Braised Duck Rice at Holland Drive Food Centre. Featured in the Michelin Guide 2018, it is busy round the clock, dishing out both kway chap and braised duck rice.
I suppose kway chap is not something appreciated by everyone, considering how the two-part Teochew dish consists of a customisable set of pig innards, pork rind and a bowl of kway — soy sauce broth and broad, thin sheets of rice noodles.
Only true gourmands will appreciate and enjoy the otherwise queasy notion of an animal’s “spare parts”. They’ve become quite a mandatory side dish to go with your kway. Having kway chap without the pieces of braised pork offal is quite like chilli crab without mantou or Hokkien mee without prawns.
We couldn’t help but notice Blanco Court Kway Chap a few stalls down along the same stretch with a significantly shorter queue.
It begged the question if the same dish was drastically better from a Michelin Guide-approved stall as opposed to one that’s not. We first got a set of Kway Chap (S$4.50) from Blanco’s, to begin our afternoon of comparison.
To keep things fair and equal, we also ordered from Michelin Guide-recommended Cheng Heng, a set of Kway Chap (S$3.50) as well and added some Braised Duck (S$1) and Taupok ($0.50).
The noodles at Cheng Heng’s were relatively thin and smooth. The chap or soup it was served in had a herbal quality to it which made Blanco’s fall short, hitting only the basic requirement of being savoury.
I personally preferred Blanco’s noodles which, in comparison, was much smoother and thinner, being almost translucent like that of a Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun.
This seemingly simple dish actually requires much effort and preparation. To rid the otherwise offensive stench of the innards, they have to be cleaned properly and thoroughly braised.
Moving on to Cheng Heng, their plate of entrails was served with a portion of preserved vegetables, almost found in every Teochew dish.
Digging in to the sides, we found the biggest factor justifying the perpetually long queue. The braised gravy had such a depth in flavour that far superseded that of Blanco’s.
Both plates of pig entrails were cleaned very well, but those served at Cheng Heng’s were much chewier, and coupled with the more flavourful braised sauce, it appears to be the “better” plate.
On the other hand, the pork offal served at Blanco Court is more tender and easier to bite through. I suppose in terms of texture, it is a matter of personal preference which stall you’d rather.
Another reason to skip the queue at Cheng Heng’s is Blanco Court’s extensive spread of sides not available at the former stall. This includes Pig Tongue (S$6) and Pig Trotter (S$6).
Yet, to make up for their smaller selection of pig innards, Cheng Heng is also famous for their Braised Duck which we added to our order.
Very skillfully sliced into thin pieces, the duck meat was tender, having the same robust braised flavour as the innards.
Our concluding verdict is that if you’re not too fussy about nuanced differences and the novelty of your food being associated with the Michelin label, then Blanco Court’s kway chap will fare just as well.
Expected Damage: S$3.50 – $6 per pax
Cheng Heng Kway Chap & Braised Duck Rice: 44 Holland Drive, Holland Drive Market & Food Centre, #02-05, Singapore 270044 | Opening Hours: 7.30am – 2.30pm (Daily)
Blanco Court Kway Chap: 44 Holland Drive, Holland Drive Market & Food Centre, #02-02, Singapore 270044 | Opening Hours: 7am – 3pm (Tue – Sun), Closed on Mon