I’ve spent the last few nights in a hotel on Lebuh Kimberley. I wasn’t previously too familiar with this corner of Georgetown, but it’s turned out to be a great place to stay, as there’s a lot of interesting stuff to eat just steps from my door: Goh Huat Seng, an old-school Chinese restaurant next door, comes recommended by Bee and is virtually full every night; there’s a busy morning market one block away; there’s a promising-looking char kuay teow vendor just down the block; and next door to my hotel, a busy and allegedly renowned vendor selling duck koay chiap.
I was tipped off to the latter dish via a recommendation from food writer CK Lam in the guidebook I’m updating. But upon reading it, I did a double take, because in Thailand — at least as far as I’m aware — kuay jap, as the Thai version is known, is made exclusively with pork (for more on the Thai version, go here).
The dish is prepared by friendly and rather portly family:
and appears to be very popular, with the open-air shophouse ‘dining room’ full of diners virtually every time I’ve walked by.
I expected the dish to be sweet — duck dishes in Thailand usually are — but it was predominately rich and meaty, with a slight peppery spiciness that reminded me of the Thai version, and just a hint of ‘sweet’ spice (cinnamon, star anise, clove, etc.). I asked for a ‘mixed’ bowl, which included duck intestines and other offal, eggs, tender duck meat and a generous amount of duck fat. Like the Thai version, the dish was served with wide rice noodles that resemble tiny carpet rolls; as illustrated in CK Lam’s blog, the noodles are still made by the proprietor himself. Unlike Thai kuay jap, a bowl is served with spicy/sour dipping sauce made from fresh chilies.
I’d be curious to learn more about this dish: Is it Hokkien in origin? Teochew? Do Chinese-Malaysians do a pork version?
Duck Koay Chiap
Lebuh Kimberley, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
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