Friday, April 10

Keng Eng Kee Seafood, Bukit Merah Lane 1

Most people would throw huge parties or splurge on expensive dinners for their 60th birthday, but my mother thought otherwise. She wanted tze char, straight up with none of the fuss and frills. My younger sister used this as an opportunity to push for her agenda and the rest of us just rolled along.

I was surprised that walk-ins during Sunday lunch had to be seated at the coffee shop area. Word of caution or friendly advice: Do make a reservation if you want to be seated in the air-conditioned area.

A mixed platter of Sotong Yu tiao, Mingzhu Roll and Prawn Roll showcased the kitchen's proficiency in deep-frying. 

The tightly-detailed Mingzhu Roll looked a dish you would find in a finer Chinese restaurant. Little hammocks of deep-fried beancurd skin stuffed with Chinese mushrooms, salted egg yolk, ham and parsley.

Keng Eng Kee's prawn balls - stuffed with the usual suspects of minced pork, carrots, prawns - took this supposedly homely dish to the next level.

But it was the ghetto Sotong Yu tiao, dough fritters stuff with squid paste, that taught me a lesson in self restraint. Major love, especially with dollops of mayonnaise.

One of my favourite dishes that meal was the meaty and tender Coffee Pork Ribs. I wouldn't immediately think, Ooo, coffee flavour! But the sweetish sticky ribs bore a mellow yet intense flavour that was finger-licking good.

One of their signature items is the Midnight Hor Fun. It was tasty (like most fried kway teow) but I found it hard to find its USP. The raw eggs add a smooth finish to the dish but the hor fun itself wasn't warm enough to "cook" the raw eggs or benefit from its flavour, but at least we were spared the taste of slimy uncooked eggs. Still yummy though there could be other more outstanding carbs.

Assertively flavoured, the tender thin slices of the Claypot Pig Liver would provide offal fans with plenty of joy. 

The Roasted Chicken was the only disappointment of the day. Yes, the breast meat is as dry as it looks. Sorrowfully ordinary, we could not help but wonder why it was one of their most popular dishes. Moving on...

Vegetables dishes, which are usually the forgotten child, are given a fair treatment as exemplified by the Cuttlefish Kang Kong. Crunchy cuttlefish, soppy sweet spicy sauce ladled onto emerald green kang kong. 


Dining with two children under three years old makes eating crabs an Olympic challenge. KW scored gold with two legs while I chickened out on the challenge and only had a meaty pincer claw that my dad cracked for me (thanks dad!). The crabs here are superb, albeit more expensive than usual at $65 per kg.

I, however, lapped up the sauces like a parched desert wanderer who had discovered a magical lake. It is pretty much a fact of life that restaurants such as Long Beach or Jumbo exist to serve tourists, while locals score with heartland hideouts such as Keng Eng Kee.

The Chili Crab sauce was more spicy than sweet; though we didn't want to waste stomach space of mantous, they would have been glorious when smothered with globs of the said chili crab sauce.

The salted egg sauce is crazy addictive. A must-order! This was definitely a standout amidst the proliferation of salted egg dishes. I couldn't partake in the crab feast as Russell was drowsy/ clingy/ edgy but whenever I had the chance, I would indulge in spoonfuls of the sauce. Apparently, there are two versions of salted egg crab - the dry and the wet. As you can see, ours was the wet and I dare say this is the better of the two.

Keng Eng Kee Seafood was most recently selected to represent Singapore at the World Street Food Congress. Kudos to them for their food is, without a doubt, worthy of such an accolade. Hello, can someone commission Keng Eng Kee for Singapore Day in London or New York?

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