Pipa Duck: How Does It Compare to Peking Duck and Where to Try It in Singapore
Additional reporting by Tatler Dining Singapore.
Even seasoned epicures sometimes confuse Peking-style duck for Cantonese roast duck and vice versa. What happens then, when Pipa duck is added to the equation? To cut down on any confusion, ask yourself these three questions:
- Is the duck served with steamed soft pancakes, spring onions and a sweet bean sauce?
If yes, then it's Peking duck.
- Is the duck stuffed and seasoned with spices and ingredients such as five spice powder, star anise, sherry and hoisin sauce?
If yes, then it's Cantonese roast duck.
- Is the duck rotund or strangely flat of form?
If the duck seems flatter than usual, chances are you're eating Pipa duck.
(Related: The Best Peking Ducks in Singapore)
Not unlike the plural noun 'drumsticks', which is associated with both poultry and percussions, Pipa duck is named for its resemblance to the Pipa, a pear-shaped traditional Chinese string instrument.
Arguably crispier than Peking duck, Pipa duck is splayed open before being roasted; increasing the surface area as such helps it achieve a more even cook and extra crispy exterior.
Since experience is the best teacher, sample the famed Pipa duck in person. While still a rare find in Singapore, a good place to head to have your fix is Kam's Roast in Jewel Changi Airport (its lease at Pacific Plaza has ended but there are plans to find a new home for the outlet). Kam's version is flavoured with orange peel or Chenpi that has been aged for 23 whole years, resulting in an intense, unforgettable aroma.
Another place that does a recommended rendition of the Pipa duck is Eat 3 Cuts, a relatively new addition to the scene that specialises in traditional charcoal roasts. Its traditional recipe requires the duck to be first marinated for around six hours that is said to render flavourful meat. The local brand currently operates out of two locations: Tai Seng Point and Old Airport Food Centre.
The Pipa Duck from Kam's Roast is available whole ($42.80) for dine-in, takeaway or delivery; and whole ($48) or half ($25) from Eat 3 Cuts.