Wee Nam Kee

3 04 2011

Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice (half roasted, half steamed)

FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNER, two of my best friends, have each been in Singapore for close to three years.  Each of them opened a world in my life that I never knew existed until they arrived.  Naturally, I would want people that important to me to become really good friends too.  Being 1485 miles away from them, I didn’t know how to make it happen.  Until they told me they’ve been planning to do a Hainanese Chicken Rice dinner.  Bonding over food.  Now they’re talking my language.

Unfortunately, with the schedules they keep, a trip to Novena Ville could never be prioritized.  Well, until I arrived.  On just my third day in the city, long-standing plans to go to Wee Nam Kee, finally came to be.

Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of my ultimate comfort food.  I first got acquainted with what so many people call as arguably Singapore’s national dish in Penang in Malaysia.  Once back home in Manila from that first of three Malaysian sojourns, I started asking hotel chefs if they could make the dish for me.  The most memorable was the one made for me by the lobby coffee shop chef of the Makati Shagri-La Hotel…  at past midnight!  He made an authentic rendition of the dish, complete with all the requisite condiments and the perfect rice, that I couldn’t help but write him a very heartfelt note of thanks.  That was the very first time I wrote a note of thanks for a chef.

In Singapore, I wouldn’t have to worry if a chef would be considerate enough to go out of his way and make me Hainanese Chicken Rice.  It’s made at hawker food stalls, at restaurants, and is in every hotel in-room service menu I got my hands on.

But for this special dinner, Partner and Friendship agreed to have it only at Wee Nam Kee.  Unlike in the first couple of days when they would pick me up from the hotel, they probably felt it was time to take the next few baby steps in my “immersion” in the lion city by telling me to take the (MRT) train to Novena.  Aided by my trusty printout of the MRT system – folded four times to fit into my wallet – I found Novena to just be a couple of stations away on the same red line (North-South line) my hotel was.  Before I knew it, I was already at Velocity Mall where Friendship decided to pick me up.  She told me we where just a little walk away from Hainanese heaven.

Wee Nam Kee is a no-frills dining place. They had even put extra tables and chairs outside, shielded just enough by umbrellas against the here-and-then-gone drizzle.

Wee Nam Kee prides itself to serve one of the best – if not the best – Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore, enough to brandish “Chicken Rice” on the sign at the restaurant storefront.  Perusing their menu, one would realize that they offer quite a selection of delicacies.  So we decided to get the Hainanese chicken – half roasted, half poached/steamed – as the centerpiece of the dinner spread and around it built a menu of cereal prawns, tofu two ways (braised and deep-fried), crispy lemon fish fillet, and poached baby kai lan.

Arguably the best Hainanese Chicken for me!


I couldn't get enough of this alone!


Cereal Prawns! The Boy Wonder loves these though he would get hung up on the fact that the restaurant leaves the shells on still.


Crispy Lemon Fish Fillet


Braised Beancurd with Vegetables


Deep-fried Beancurd


Poached Baby Kai Lan. Partner loved this too! And I think Friendship, who is very particular about vegetables, liked this as well.

Wee Nam Kee has got the secrets to the perfect Hainanese Chicken Rice down pat.  It is in how the chicken is cooked (definitely NOT overcooked, just brought to one boil ever so lightly, and then left to simmer in the broth for between half to a couple of hours); how the rice is cooked; how the accompanying chicken soup tastes; and of course, the condiments – grated ginger in oil, thick sweet soy sauce, and chili.  Besides the braised tofu with vegetables and the poached baby kai lan I would pierce with my fork every so often, all that demanded my attention was the steamed chicken.  And oh, yes, a couple of cups of the chicken rice!  The rice alone made me moan at my seat.

Lest I be remiss in reliving my Wee Nam Kee experience, I have to say that it was there that I first tried Fresh Barley Juice.  It was love at first sip.  I totally defied my eating practices – not having a sip of drink till I’m done eating – at first just so I could get a taste, then just so I could ask for another glass!  Sadly, they’d run out.

My new love, "natagpuan ko na sya!"... Fresh Barley Juice!

Another item ticked off my list – Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice.  And one item added – Fresh Barley Juice.  They are in great company with (Tung Lok) chili crab, fishball noodle soup and oyster omelet.

Wee Nam Kee... I miss you. I've got to be back!!!


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