Hainan Chicken Rice - Wee Nam Kee, Singapore
I had always aimed to eat at Wee Nam Kee, after hearing through the grapevine and on the internet regarding its extra special renditions of the classic Hainan chicken rice, perhaps the national dish of Singapore. A family business, Wee Nam Kee has been digging its fans in since 1987, and when Mui Na suggested the branch along Thompson Road in Novena, I did not protest. My first experience there lived up to my expectations. The chicken is moist, flavourful and addictive. The rice is pleasant, tasty and tender. Some of my Aussie mates flinch at chicken served on the bone, but in this case, this is essential for the optimal taste to come out.
By noon on a weekday, the crowds had gathered - office workers, families, tourists like me mates and more. Initially I was curious why there were so many staff at this Wee Nam Kee joint - for a two shopfront place. I soon understood fast, as the lunchers quickly occupied all available tables ad people started forming a standing queue. Customers were not averse to sharing tables with strangers, and the crowd was as cosmopolitan as Singapore gets. I got hooked on the mild but delectable "water dogs" (siau kow in Cantonese) - steamed dumplings with pork mince with shrimp and vegetable ingredients inside (picture below).
One of the curiosities in this business is the need for customers to be there on a timely basis. Some dishes are not available if you come too early or too late. Interesting enough, there is a viable delivery service operated by Wee Nam Kee within Singapore Island. Other signature dishes for consideration are crispy roast pork, deep fried tofu, crispy stir fried kai lan greens (picture below), cereal prawns and another national icon for Singapore, the curry fish head. Master Chef Loh has been heading the kitchens of Wee Nam Kee for twenty years now, and outlets include a franchised outlet in Manila.