SITizen Buzz

Simmer, Dish and Serve!

CIA alumnus and founder of Duke of Congee Tien Jia Chen on his desire to keep the hawker trade alive

 5 Mar 2021
Duke of Congee


Duke of Congee Bestsellers
Bestsellers at the Duke of Congee (from left to right) are the Mixed Organ Congee ($4.00), Duke Signature Congee ($5.50) and the Triple Egg Congee ($3.50).

It was a first-place win at the Singapore Signature Food Challenge 2015 hosted by Makansutra, coupled with witnessing the determination and passion in the founder of Makansutra KF Seetoh for preserving local cuisine, that sparked something in Tien Jia Chen to join the hawker trade. 

“Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once described hawker centres as the nation’s ‘community dining rooms’, so preserving the hawker culture is important to me because it ensures the future generations will still be able to enjoy authentic Singapore foods. It is definitely a rewarding task for me to be able to feed the public and be part of their daily routine,” he said.

After graduating last year with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Food Business Management (Culinary Arts), Jia Chen decided to set up a stall selling congee, one of his favourite local fares. 

Duke of Congee serves Hainanese-style congee. The flavour of its congee strikes a balance between the sweetness from the rice grains and the savoury deliciousness of the chicken stock, as the blend of two types of rice grains cooks down to almost like a paste.

The stall offers congee with up to 20 variations of toppings, priced from $3.50 for a bowl of mixed pork congee to $9 for a bowl of abalone seafood congee. Its signature congee, Duke Signature Congee, features a generous portion of sliced pork, minced pork balls, pork liver, cuttlefish, sliced fish, century egg, spring onions and fried shallots. The traditional option, mixed organs congee, is also available at the stall, and uses only fresh pork liver and intestines for the best flavours.

Jia Chen said his training at the Culinary Institute of America came in handy as he set up his business in a coffeeshop. “The strict hygiene standards and discipline instilled in me by our instructors allows me to create a hygienic and organised workspace,” he said. The service modules gave him the first-hand experience in customer service and service recovery. Assuming the leadership role as the sous chef during the restaurant operation module also led to insights on managing staff, inventory, food quality and decision making. “It made me more confident as a stall owner and operator as I deal with suppliers, customers as well as contractors very frequently,” he said. 

Duke of Congee is located at 704 Bedok Reservoir Road, Singapore 470704. It is open from Wednesday to Monday, 7:30am to 3pm. It is also available on food delivery platforms such as GrabFood, Food Panda and Deliveroo.

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