Union Chee Pow Kai – Famous Paper-Wrapped Chicken Returns
Union Farm Eating House is probably the most famous place for paper-wrapped chicken (or chee pao kai) in Singapore. Ex-students of Singapore Institute of Management will definitely remember this place. Union Farm started as a chicken farm in 1953 and served their signature paper-wrapped chicken, which was created by Kar Wing’s father. The idea came from a Hong Kong singer, who suggested that the owner create a dish of his own with the chicken that he was rearing. She gave Kar Wing’s father the idea of using paper to wrap the chicken.
The restaurant is unique for its kampong-style setting which we don’t see anymore. I tried the chicken twice, and I can never forget how fresh and juicy each piece of chicken was. Sadly, they had to close shop about a year ago after the landlord sold the land. I have good news though! Union Farm’s second-generation owner, Mr Chia Kar Wing, has recently brought Union Farm back! You can find them in a coffeeshop along Toh Guan Road.
Kar Wing continues to serve Union Farm’s signature paper-wrapped chicken, along with their egg noodles. In the old location, the preparation of the dish was much longer — the customers picked their chickens from the farm and hand them over to the kitchen. While waiting, the customers would have some mangosteen from a nearby tree.
With a much smaller space, this is not possible anymore. But of course, the preparation of the chicken remains the same. The chicken parts are marinated for 2 to 3 days before being wrapped in parchment paper. Upon order, the paper-wrapped chicken is dropped into the deep fryer. Wrapping the chicken is a real skill because you need to ensure that the marinate is sealed within the paper.
Once the chicken is served, it’s time to test your chopstick skills. Or you can just use your hands to unwrap the “envelope”. The meat was firm and tender, but I thought that the flavours weren’t as intense as they used to be. There was a pleasant balance of savouriness and sweetness. The recipe is kept a secret, but I could taste the strong ginger juice in the meat.
Do you know that Kar Wing was a trained actor in the past? It was after his father’s passing that he decided to take over and carry on the business. At the moment, Kar Wing said that there isn’t a next-generation for him to pass the business down to. Now, this is probably the only place where you can get your Chee Pow Kai fix now!
Union Chee Pow Kai
Address: Blk 262 Jurong East Street 24, Singapore 600262
Opening Hours: Thur to Sun 12pm till sold out
MissTamChiak.com made an anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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