Tang Kay Kee – Traditional Zichar Stall Launches New Wok Hei Lunch Bowls!
Hong Lim Food Centre boasts a delectable selection of culinary treasures. Apart from the famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa, which was awarded a bib gourmand in 2017, you’ll also discover traditional hawker food stalls (Dong Fang Hong Sotong Ball Seafood Soup) alongside modern day hawker fare (such as Beng Who Cooks) all under one roof. One of these hawkers stands out from the rest and it is none other than Tang Kay Kee- a zi char stall which marries the best of both traditional zi char and modern zi char lunch bowls into one stall!
Tang Kay Kee Fish Head Bee Hoon has been a household name amongst regulars of Hong Lim Food Centre. While the stall has been “wok–ing” zi char fare for dinner goers since 1946, it has finally opened its doors to the lunch crowd with its newly launched modern-day wok–hei infused lunch bowls in January 2018! Fourth–generation hawkers, Debbie, 27; and Kamen, 21, are the brains behind this new concept. “Before the stall shifted into Hong Lim Food Centre, my great grandfather was peddling along Upper Hokkien Street prior to the establishment of Hawker Centres. Tang Kay Kee is actually derived from my great grand father’s name Tang Pak Kay,” Debbie revealed. “We were initially known as Kay Kee 祺记, but added a “Tang” in front of only after the renovation of Hong Lim in 2009 because we wanted to better commemorate this long tang heritage that is important to my grand Aunty, who is also the stall owner!”
A fresh spin is put on the classic hor fun. The Mixed ($5), which features hor fan stir–fried with garlic tender pork slices, fish slices, battered enoki mushrooms, and sous–vide egg, really won us over. “We infused modern ingredients into our hor fun for the younger crowd. This is very different from our traditional hor fun served at dinner time, which comes with the usual liver slices and prawns,” shared the duo. We couldn’t agree more. I was hooked on the battered enoki, which was made using 4 different flours and salt. The result was a uniquely salty and crispy mushroom which was extremely addictive! “Also, we use a sous–vide machine to cook perfect eggs at 63 degrees” Kamen added. While the choice of ingredients was captivating, it was the alluring wok–hei that really had me going for spoonfuls.
I opted for the Cai Po as part of the fried rice menu, which comprised of fried rice with eggs, chinese sausages, crab meats, spring onions, preserved radish as well as a sous–vide egg. Unlike the Mixed hor fun, the wok–hei here was much milder. Like good zi char–style fried rice, the grains were nicely oiled and separate. You definitely need to spoon a big portion of rice to savour all the elements of the fried rice, including the distinct sweet and salty cai po. I do wish that they could be a bit more generous with the cai po though!
The fun (or rather, crucial) aspect of zi char is ordering a ton of dishes to share with your loved ones. While Tang Kay Kee serves numerous traditional ala carte zi char dishes in the evening, their lunch menu also consists of a lean selection of snacks that are inspired from their traditional menu. For example, the Prawn Paste Chicken ($10) (which is also an excellent choice to have). Their version of har jeong gai comes in boneless cubed, bite–sized portions that are perfect for the working crowd to chow on while avoiding the hassle of removing the chicken bones. The chicken were juicy and crispy (and dare I say, finger lickin’ good!) and made even more perfect with a touch of their homemade mustard mayonnaise sauce. I doubt there would be any leftovers from this extremely toothsome snack. Traditionalists need not fret though as the regular har jeong gai wings are still available during dinner.
There’s something for everyone here at Tang Kay Kee. With modern wok–hei dishes by day and traditional zi char fare by night, I’d say Tang Kay Kee deserves multiple return visits. I mean, where else in the hawker scene would you be able to find such an unusual yet classic take on tze char?
Tang Kay Kee Fish Head Bee Hoon
Address: 531A Upper Cross Street, #01-70 Hong Lim Food Centre, Singapore 050538
Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays 11am to 2.30pm (for zi char lunch), Tuesdays to Sundays 4pm to 10pm (for zi char dinner)
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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