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Food

Ya Lor: Braised Duck Rice From Famous Sean Kee Duck Rice Now at Guoco Tower

Last Updated: March 26, 2020

Written by Dawn Yeo

With every new mall and restaurant opening, hawkers are losing out to air-conditioned food courts and in-built food kiosks, resulting in the erosion of authentic Singaporean culture and food. That’s why it’s extremely heartening to see famous hawkers establishing stalls in malls and widely-accessible areas, like Ya Lor

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Located in the heart of the CBD at Guoco Tower in Tanjong Pagar, Ya Lor is opened by the Oh brothers from the very famous Sean Kee Duck Rice from Geylang Lorong 35, in partnership with the creators of Pezzo Pizza SG and CRAVE Nasi Lemak & Teh Tarik. The name ‘Ya Lor’ is a literal translation; ‘ya’ meaning duck in Chinese while ‘lor’ meaning braised in Hokkien. Ingenious, memorable, and not to be confused with YaLoh, another hawker selling duck at Golden Mile Food Centre. 

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Upon reaching Guoco Tower, the eatery was easy to find, surrounded by stores like Crave and LiHo. The illuminated storefront features a cute illustration of a duck, as well as its status as part of Sean Kee Braised Duck. Ya Lor is brightly lit and styled after a vintage kopitiam, with a simplistic layout, LED screens displaying the menu and separate ordering and collection points to facilitate movement. A side booth provides you with all the utensils and condiments you need to spice up your meal, including their signature house-made sambal chilli.  

The menu only has a total of six items, befitting that of a regular hawker stall. Despite its prime location, the prices are still wallet-friendly, with the most expensive item being their Braised Drumstick Duck Rice (S$8.90).

Ya Lor 14

I tried the Signature Braised Duck Rice (S$6.90), which was one of their recommended dishes consisting of duck meat, bean sprouts, braised peanuts, braised half egg and beancurd. Not having been to the original Sean Kee Duck Rice before, I had no expectations for this plate going into my meal. 

The first thing I noted was the braised sauce, which was salty-sweet but leaned more towards sweet. It was unlike any other duck rice sauces I’d tried before and it helped to marry the rice and ingredients together. Instead of regular white rice, this dish uses dark brown yam rice that is stickier and more flavourful. 

Ya Lor 08   Ya Lor 05

The plate of ingredients is served separately from the rice, to ensure the rice does not prematurely soak up the sauce and become soggy. The boneless duck breast was tender albeit slightly textured and a little dry for my taste; easily remedied by dousing it in the sauce.

The beancurd was springy yet soft, while the braised peanuts were salty with a hint of that roasted flavour. The egg was pretty regular, but the dish as a whole was quite decent, especially with more of the sauce. 

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Next, I tried the Braised Duck Noodle (S$5.90)—the same sauce was drizzled over the duck and the yellow noodles, with a garnishing of bak choy, spring onions and fried shallots. With the sauce, the mee wasn’t dry, but it had a strong eggy taste that overpowered the flavour of the sauce. The vegetables were slightly limp, but I enjoyed the dish for its simplicity in both presentation and taste. 

Both the noodles and the braised duck rice came with a side of soup. The clarity of the soup and a hint of salted vegetables brought to mind the soup that typically accompanies Hainanese chicken rice.  

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Lastly, I tried the Braised Duck Porridge (S$5.90), which came with a serving of sauce, duck and braised peanuts. The porridge was thick and its mild taste reminded me of Teochew porridge, which went well with the sweet duck sauce. Duck porridge is quite uncommon and it was refreshing to see that they had included it in their menu, keeping to the original Sean Kee Duck Rice.

Of the three dishes I tried, the porridge was my favourite. It had that homemade quality to it, with the simple sauce-and-porridge combination and comforting thickness. Although the prices of the dishes were about S$1 more than the ones at the original Geylang Lorong 35, it wasn’t too steep a price to pay for a decent meal of duck rice in the CBD. 

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I’m excited to see more hawkers coming out with similar casual eatery concepts in the future, to ensure the continuity of their traditional dishes. This provides a yummy yet affordable option for office workers or even those who want to enjoy a classic hawker meal in the comfort of air-conditioned surroundings. 

Expected Damage: S$5.90 – S$8.90 per pax 

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Ya Lor

7 Wallich Street, Guoco Tower, #B2-32, Singapore 078884

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Ya Lor

7 Wallich Street, Guoco Tower, #B2-32, Singapore 078884

Operating Hours: 10am - 9pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 10am - 9pm (Daily)

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