“A chicken rice stall on Instagram? Must be run by youngsters,” my friend quipped when I first mentioned Hai Kee Soy Sauce Chicken Rice to him.
Indeed, Singapore has seen a surge of millennial hawknerpreneurs stepping up to preserve our local hawker culture, whether by putting their own spin on traditional fare or simply sticking to the classics – as is the case for the brother and sister team running this hugely popular stall at Kim San Leng Coffeeshop on Changi Road.
Walking in at quarter to noon, I could already see Hai Kee in full swing for the weekend lunchtime crowd. The stall front is decidedly modern, the atmosphere among the cooks young and energised, and to top it off – a TV screen showcasing Hai Kee’s menu, complete with pictures.
With the steady sound of the knife chopping up meat in the background, we started on the Double Happiness Platter ($10 ala carte, $12 meal). For 2 pax, a full meal includes two bowls of fragrant rice (top up $1 for egg noodles or hor fun), choice of 1 meat, and 1 choice of 1 vegetable.
The secret, as they say, is in the sauce. Actually, let me rephrase – the sauces were EVERYTHING in all the dishes. The soy sauce chicken, the star of the platter, was deliciously tender, with the crisp skin and cucumber as the cherry on top. Wait a while before dipping your chopsticks into the chicken, and you can enjoy the taste of soy sauce soaked chicken meat. Unlike some stalls that drizzle barely enough sauce, Hai Kee was unbelievably generous with it.
For $4, you can enjoy an additional plate of Char Siew and Roast Pork. Again, the sauce made all the difference to me. Both types of meat were perfectly done, with the sauce yielding a very interesting texture while not verging on overly sweet in taste! I’m not one who often prefers pork over chicken, but this is good enough to sway me over to the other side.
For vegetables, choose between Bean Sprouts with Cuttlefish or Oyster Sauce Vegetables ($3-5 ala carte). Personally, I preferred my vegetables to be a slightly “wetter”, although I did appreciate the generous toppings of fried spring onions and oyster sauce.
While most soups at chicken rice stalls are way too oily, Hai Kee hit the all the right notes with their broth – piping hot, fresh tasting and reminiscent of the soups I used to drink growing up!
To Hai Kee, I say well done for preserving local food – and my favourite childhood dish of all time! While the queue does get long during peak hours (by the way, they were the only stall that faced this situation on a weekend), it moves quite smoothly and quickly as the cooks work hard to plate up their delicious offerings.
Address: 324T Changi Road, Kim San Leng Coffeeshop
Nearest MRT: Eunos
Opening hours: 9am – 6.30pm
Contact: +65 98329732
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