By Ian McIntyre

WHAT THE DUCK is probably an appropriate brand for its proprietor Daniel Tan Chia Yang as his lifelong passion with the duckling has inspired him to open up a small restaurant at the SPICE Canopy near the Setia SPICE convention centre in Penang.

And just like the duck, whose cousin – the chicken reigns more supreme in terms of more delectable domestic fowl meat, his restaurant is unfortunately mistaken by the public to be one just devoted to ducks instead of an average western – theme outlet.

With that comes the notion that it is expensive as the duck is usually regarded as an exotic meal, comparable to geese and turkey compared to chicken.

Nothing is further than the truth, Tan quacks out.

The decor inside.

Here, Tan finds it tough going but he wants to clarify what duck means in the world of gourmet cuisine, citing that while it may be lesser known than chicken, which is easily the most popular poultry meal around, ducks actually hold their own.

“Not all duck dishes must be like the China’s national dish of Peking Duck, there are many ways to cook and grill or boil it,” said Tan, who sought the media’s attention to clear the air about the misgivings of consuming duck.

He is also welcoming towards making the outlet halal certified, saying the present approach in cooking it, can more or less meet the high expectations of the certifiers.

Just like chicken, Tan has his supply freshly delivered as there are local husbandry which rears and mass produces duck for commercial consumption.

“And I get it fresh from the markets in Penang. It is not imported so the price is reasonable if I may say so.”

Tan is an accomplished chef, having plied his craft in the high-star properties such as Equatorial, Shangri – La and Eastin before venturing out on his own.

During his culinary vocation, Tan begun his love affair with the duck, saying it has a texture which was appealing to him and the meat is tastier if one has enough of chicken.

He also invited guests – Walter Ng and his sister Stephanie Ng, who was visiting Penang, as she now resides in the United States to become food critics.

Tan (right) explaining to the two guests – siblings, Walter and Stephanie Ng.

Stephanie says one wouldn’t have such an outlet in the States, so there is room for growth, especially among foodies who are keen to try out something new.

Tan says that ducks for him are underrated because consumers tend to favor chicken because it is more accessible but given time, it can hold their own.

“There needs to be more awareness talked about this type of domestic bird.”

He cites that duck meat has more protein compared to chicken and it is not as fat as the likes of pork meat.

It is just that over the years, it became exotic because it is less accessible unlike now, where there are more farmers engaged in rearing ducks.

Demand would pick up once consumers realise the value of it, said Tan.

He then cooked up a storm to unveil his best dishes, saying his outlet is not solely about ducks – he has salmon and chicken too besides vegan dishes for the diet conscious.

He starts with the own creation of apple ducky bloody ducky and crazy duck carbonated drinks, followed by the starters of smoked duck soup and cream of mushroom as well as breaded smoked duck bites or smoked duck salads.

There is also the duck lover platter of trio – a reflection of the chef’s love of ducks.

The mains can be chicken fricassee, herb crusted salmon and the signature of duck confit and the deserts is a highlight – sizzling brownie and salted egg ice cream.

Seldom does a desert come in a sizzling hot plate – but Tan is a unique chef.

He hopes innovation and his love for duck can quack enough for foodies to hear.

And do look at his menu and the prices online – Tan has a Facebook account where he is now promoting the “delicious Nanyang” menu.

Conscious that inflation is driving up food prices, especially since Malaysia or his home state of Penang is regarded as a gastronomic haven, Tan has taken pains to ensure affordability and taste reigns supreme in the What The Duck restaurant.

He is now also promoting the Hainanese Chicken Chop, Kerabu Bee Hoon, Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken, Spicy Sour Lemongrass Fish Noodle, Hong Kong Olive Vegetable Fried Rice, Lemongrass Grill Chicken Rice Steam Bun with Curry Chicken.

For more details call Tan at 04-6386 084.