From ducks to chickens — Patrick Teoh can’t seem to stay away from feathered creatures.
Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that Patrick Teoh is one of Malaysia’s most iconic personalities. And why haven’t you been hearing him on the radio, you ask?
That is because the 62-year-old is busy rearing poultry — organic free-range ones at that. But wasn’t it birds that got him in so much trouble in the first place?
For those old enough to remember, Teoh played an April Fool’s joke in 1995 on his radio show when he had his friend call in to complain that her advertising agency was putting ducks on hot plates to make them dance for a commercial.
This upset many people and police reports were lodged before people realised that the “dancing ducks’’ were a hoax. To cut a long story short, many were not happy that Teoh used national radio to play pranks and called for his resignation. Teoh was suspended from radio soon after.
“Come to think of it, it’s quite a silly matter actually,” says Teoh. “The issue was blown out of proportion and even the Ministry of Information got involved. This goes to show that Malaysians can’t really take a joke. But never mind that.
“I decided to get involved in the poultry business when Allan Phoon, who is now my partner, ate this delicious chicken in China. The meat was so tasty that he had to ask the restaurant what type of chicken it was.”
Phoon, 36, found out that the meat tasted different because the chicken, called cho kai in Chinese, was being fed and reared the organic way.
“We both like chicken but the meat we are used to is mostly from factory chickens, like the ones you get with your Hainanese chicken rice. The meat is always very smooth, tender and succulent-looking but is relatively tasteless. The flavour is all in the soya sauce,” points out Teoh.
As Phoon’s family is involved in the farming business, he and Teoh decided to rear their own organic chickens and ducks so that Malaysians would be able to enjoy the delectable meat.
So what makes their organic chickens and ducks different from factory birds?
“For the first 60 days, the chickens are allowed to roam freely, fed grains, corn, fruit and vegetable scraps and eating worms they find in the ground. We do not feed them chicken feed and they are not given antibiotics or injected with hormones. This results in their meat being very sweet.
We put them in cages for the last 30 days as we don’t want their meat to get too tough. It will be a nice texture. They will continue to eat the same food they have been eating for the past two months.”
Their two-acre farm in Sungkai, Perak, rears 60% chickens and 40% ducks, all of which are supplied to their newly opened Damansara Village @ Imbi restaurant.
“We can’t produce enough to sell commercially so we are just supplying to our restaurant for now. This makes it exclusive. The organic chicken is available at our Imbi restaurant but the organic duck is not on the menu yet. We will be introducing it in a few months’ time. Our other restaurant, Damansara Village Steamboat @ Damansara Jaya, will offer both dishes eventually,” says Teoh.
Their ducks are reared in a similar way, too, being allowed to roam freely for 60 days and fed fruit and vegetable scraps. Factory ducks mature in less than a month.
Surprisingly, they steam their ducks.
“Ducks are usually braised or roasted and are not usually steamed because of their strong smell. The only ingredient added to our organic chicken and duck dishes is salt. You get to savour the original taste of the meat as no herbs, MSG or spices are added at all,” adds Teoh proudly.
Besides the organic birds, Damansara Village @ Imbi also offers wild haruan or sang yee that is caught fresh from the Perak rivers by the orang asli.
“Most of the haruan you find in Chinese restaurants are farmed. They have a strong ‘fishy’ smell and a mushy taste. The orang asli catch about 10-12 wild haruan each week for us. The texture and taste of wild haruan are totally different as the flesh is firmer, almost cod fish-like, and there’s no muddy smell or taste,” explains Teoh.
Damansara Village @ Imbi,
32 & 34, Jalan Utara, off Jalan Imbi
(opposite Pasar Rakyat), Kuala Lumpur.
Non-halal, open from 11.30am-3pm
GPS 3°08'41.08" N 101°43'01.84" E