Keng Eng Kee Seafood: Tze Char Heaven

My wonderful Mother turned 60 years old and she requested Tze Char for her birthday meal. Her favourite cuisine. My family was only too happy to oblige to her request. Secretly, the break away from our usual (snoozefest) Japanese for Sunday family lunch was a relieved for me. Keng Eng Kee Seafood (“KEK”) has been high on my family’s Tze-Char-bucket list for ages! Many friends highly recommend it. For Tze Char, non-Brunch or Western, that is rare feat. There must be something good about KEK. So on Sunday, we finally made it! My Mum’s birthday celebration was an extremely good reason to justify ingesting all those calories. In the end, the thousand over calories was so worth it. Every dish we ordered was simply outstanding! It made us fall in love with Chinese food all over again. However KEK is a strange place. The ugly pictures of the dishes do the food no justice. They don’t look as appetizing as in “real” life. Time for the restaurant to update its menu! Or maybe these days with the convenience of social media, who still flips through menus? Check out our spread.

We arrived at the empty air-conditioned restaurant just before 12pm and my Dad was convinced the emptiness meant our food was in danger of being just so-so. We were so wrong. Within 15 minutes, all tables in the air-conditioned room were occupied. Every table ordered large portions of classic Tze Char dishes.

For our lunch, we played safe too. We selected the most popular dishes featured on food blogs and Instagram. We expected the dishes to be good but we ended up being blown away by seven out of eight dishes! In fact the 咸蛋(炸)螃蟹 SALTED EGG (FRIED) CRAB was the best salted egg yolk crab I ever had! Think thick, creamy and luscious salted egg yolk sauce imbued with notes of curry. The 1kg crab may have been pricey at $65 but the flesh was sturdy. Instantly we could taste the freshness in the flesh! Our other crab dish, the classic 辣椒螃蟹 CHILLI CRAB was outstanding too. Spicy with subtle sweetness, the addictive thick egg-y sauce caused us to drink it like it was soup! My favourite part of the two crab dishes was the abundance of crab roe.

It has only been less than five hours and I am already craving for KEK’s crabs.

Other stalwarts of KEK we had: 黄金三拼(明珠卷,虾棗,油条) MIXED PLATTER (MINGZHU, PRAWN ROLLS & YOU TIAO). In the center of the platter, the Mingzhu rolls were stuffed with mushrooms, prawns, egg yolk and ham encased in beancurd skin and deep-fried. This is a rarely-seen appetizer and we were instantly sold! The prawn roll balls were stuffed with minced prawns and cubes of vegetables. Highly addictive.

If you love your coffee, KEK’s 咖啡排骨 COFFEE PORK RIBS is unmissable! The aromatic smell of coffee will hit you the moment the plate arrives on your table. Not only did we fall madly in love with the smell, the freshness and tenderness of the pork were unbelievably impressive. In love.

For our vegetables, I could not resist insisting on the 鱿鱼应菜 KANGKONG W/ CUTTLEFISH. This boring-sounding dish was anything but! The crunchy KangKong stems were engulfed in a spicy-sweet sauce with heaps of crunchy cuttlefish. Marvellous.

My brother-in-laws likened the cuttlefish sauce to Thai Chilli Jam. Whatever it was, we liked it.

On the internet it seemed like you couldn’t visit KEK without ordering their 月光河粉 MOONLIGHT HORFUN and for good reason! A simple yet perfectly-executed dish rich with smokiness. The raw egg cooked by the heat of the flat noodles, that retained a bite, provided a sultry texture. My low-carb diet was swiftly thrown out the window with this one. Certainly my happiest problem for the weekend.

My parents liked this one: 砂煲姜葱猪肝 CLAYPOT PIG LIVER. I found it too liver-y or organ-y. But the braised brown sauce was arresting.

Here’s our ONLY disappointing dish of the afternoon: 脆皮烧鸡 ROASTED CHICKEN. When making reservations, I was advised to “reserve” this dish in advance. However this dry-to-the-bone chicken was just so-so. I doubt many of us went back for a second piece.

With seven out of eight dishes outstanding, KEK won our hearts. This is by far the best Tze Char restaurant I have ever visited! Classic Tze Char dishes prepared with utmost respect and care, the hype was warranted. For us, KEK exceeded all expectations.

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