Lee Tong Kee (李东记) – The Pioneer of Ipoh Hor Fun in Singapore!
Situated in Chinatown, Lee Tong Kee has the longest history out of any of the eateries that I’ve covered thus far. Back in 1948, the founder, Mr Lee Tong Kee (李东记), opened up an Ipoh Hor Fun stall in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. The business proved to be a success, so in 1969, he opened a branch in Tanjong Pagar, Singapore! It has since moved a couple of times, but South Bridge Road has been its home for the past 30 years. In 1997, Mr Lee left his business to his daughter, Jillian!
Even though Lee Tong Kee’s latest outlet opened before I was born, the restaurant’s interior is nostalgia evoking. 59-year-old Jillian shared that she’s changed nothing since the place opened — the chairs, tables and even plates and utensils have remained the same! It might not be the prettiest, but it has a charming old-school appeal.
Jillian shared that Ipoh hor fun is unique because the hor fun is slimmer and smoother, and is bathed in a rich and savoury broth. The broth is simmered for many hours with chicken bones and prawn shells. Obviously, the ‘LTK Special’ (经典鸡丝虾河粉) is their signature dish. However, as the resident beef lover, I had to dive straight in to the LTK Beef Hor Fun (牛腩河粉).
The LTK Beef Hor Fun ($8) had my mouth watering just from looking at it. The hor fun was smothered in a dark brown gravy, and topped with three glistening chunks braised beef brisket. They normally serve the dish with choy sum, but chives were used as a substitute as they had run out of choy sum.
The beef hor fun might very well have been heaven in a bowl! The gravy hit all the right spots for me. Thick and luscious, the gravy had the subtle aroma of five-spice, and an intense punch of beefy flavour. Each strand of the silky hor fun was coated in the delectable gravy. Adding the chilli sauce in took the dish to the next level. You must add it into the beef hor fun! It adds a tantalising acidic tang, which cuts through the richness of the gravy.
I’m not one to use hyperbole, but the beef brisket was absolutely sublime. The hours spent braising the meat paid off! The sizeable beef chunks were incredibly succulent and juicy. It had a chewier texture that’s typically associated with brisket, but the melt-in-your-mouth fat made it oh-so delicious. There’s not much to say, other than I am definitely returning for Lee Tong Kee’s beef hor fun!
On to their signature dish, the LTK Special ($6.20). I’m normally a fan of strong and bold flavours, so I wasn’t expecting much from this soupy hor fun dish. However, I was pleasantly surprised! The broth has been thoroughly infused with the flavours of chicken, and has a tinge of sweetness from the prawn. Slurping up the hor fun, which had been soaking in the broth, was so satisfying.
There was also a generous amount of shredded chicken, and a few pieces of prawn. The chicken wasn’t amazingly tender, but the prawns were nice and fresh! I was unaware that this dish is commonly served with a plate of bean sprouts (you can get a plate for an additional $0.50). So, I guess I’ll have to come back to give it another try!
Lee Tong Kee also serves up handmade dumplings! I ordered the Prawn Wanton Soup ($7/$10.50/$15), though Jillian shared that their fried version is also very popular. The soup was pretty decent, but the star of the dish was definitely the wantons. Not only did the wantons have the perfect skin-to-filling ratio, each one also contained one whole prawn! I gobbled up each and every single wanton. The prawn was incredibly springy and fresh. $7 is quite a steep price to pay for a bowl of wanton soup, but it was well worth it!
Having been around for 70 years, Lee Tong Kee’s recipes have withstood the test of time. I’m still raving about their beef hor fun — I can’t wait to go back!
Lee Tong Kee (李东记)
Address: 278 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058827
Phone: 6226 0417
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 11am to 9pm, Monday: 11am to 4pm.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
Let’s build a food community that helps to update the food news in Singapore! Simply comment below if there’s any changes or additional info to Lee Tong Kee (李东记). We will verify and update from our side. Thanks in advance!