Keeping A Recipe Alive: Hai Kee
Hai Kee, which specializes in soy chicken, had a facelift recently. Traditional signboard was dumped and the current new one, on red background with white characters which was really trendy and outstanding. This 7 year old stall at changi road was currently manned by Joseph Wang, 27, the grandson of Hai Kee’s founder and his missus, Bliss, 27 too.
As told by Joseph, their family did not start off with chicken rice though where the grandfather was initially selling chinese buns (包) in Melaka before coming to Singapore to sell chicken rice. He started selling this Singapore iconic dish from year 1955 on a pulley cart to a proper stall space in 1959 along Upper cross street where recipe was passed down to 2nd generation, Jack Wang (Joseph’s father) till today’s 3rd generation.
Hai Kee’s soya sauce chicken rice journey did faced some crisis many years back due to bird flu and bad economy downhill but luckily they came back on track in year 2010. Although 3rd generation Joseph continuing this chicken rice legacy without any f&b background, but he told me he would work hard and try his best to keep this family recipe going.
After some background intro, let’s come back to food. Ordering of food was easy at Hai Kee as there’s 02 lcd displays infront of the stall to show you what’s on the menu. My hubby and I had the “Double Happiness” platter for 02 at $10.00 which comprises of their signature soy sauce chicken, soup and 02 bowls of rice. You can choose other varieties of meat such as roasted char siew and roasted pork belly if you do not wish to have chicken. We had our twin meat combination (双拼) on ala carte basis at $4.00 for a medium portion. Additional top up of dishes available at $2.50 for oyster sauce greens/ bean sprouts, extra $1.00 if you wish to swop your rice to egg noodles/ hor fun. Individual chicken rice bowls and noodles available too from $3.50 to $5.80. Don’t be surprised when you see your chicken rice served in a bowl instead of a plate. The purpose was to make you feel at home, like how you would consume rice at home, in a bowl.
For me, in a good plate of chicken rice, rice was more important than the meat. I liked mine packed with fragrance, a little oily and grainy (粒粒分明). Hai Kee’s version was decent, with grainy rice packed with ginger aftertaste but not fragrant and oily enough for me.
Their signature soy sauce chicken was well marinated and braised to a dark brown skin. So savoury I can have all the skin to myself! Haha.. Meat was very tender, even the breast meat part was good and wasn’t dry. As for the pork belly, skin were really crackling but a pity meat was rather bland. Char siew was the other highlight here. Nicely roasted and caramelized, you wouldn’t want to stop at one piece.
Not forgetting to mention Hai Kee’s homemade sauces to pair with the chicken. I love their chilli that comes with a spicy kick and the semi spiced mashed ginger that I usually mixed in with the chilli and dark sauce.
It was indeed an enjoyable eating experience at Hai Kee’s. Joseph told us that all meat were freshly cooked/roasted daily at the stall to give us the best. His wife helped out in the roasting part too apart from handling the chopping board part! Wowww! He told us he was really grateful to his wife, whom gave up her studies to help him at the chicken rice stall.
Personally, kudos to young hawkers whose willing to bear the tedious hard work, staying in hot kitchens, to cook for customers while pursuing their passion. Thank you. If you ask me is Hai Kee the best chicken rice I’ve had, its not because I yet to find the best. But it’s DEFINITELY the one that made me felt like home, like how my mummy cooked for me. 有家的感觉真好!
(Soy Sauce Chicken)
324T Changi Road
Tel: 9459 2494
Sat to Thursday 9am - 6.30pm
(Closed on Friday)
Also available at:
Blk 217 Bedok North St 1
Food Loft Coffeeshop.
Wed to Mon 9am - 8pm
(Closed on Tuesday)
[This was an invited tasting. Thank you Hai Kee for hosting]