I did not get to celebrate my birthday properly this year. Far from it, as a matter of fact. This was one of those birthdays: the kind when nothing seems to go right and you find yourself bluer than the sky at dusk. And, alas, it did not help that I got yelled at. (Long story.) So I rode out the storm for the better part of a week following my birthday – then went and took my parents out to Wee Nam Kee for a rather belated celebratory lunch.
Wee Nam Kee is a Singaporean franchise that has been thriving in the Philippine restaurant scene for the better part of the last five years. It’s primary stock-in-trade is Hainanese chicken rice or rice cooked in savoury chicken broth and served with one’s choice of either white chicken (steamed chicken rubbed down with a peppy blend of sesame oil and grated ginger) or roast chicken marinated in soy sauce with star anise, ginger, and rice wine.
The chicken is tender, flavourful, with a crisp skin with the classic burnished look of soy-roasted chicken. The chicken is set on top of a bed of thinly sliced cucumber which serves as a delicate, crisp-textured foil to balance the richness of the poultry. A small (quarter) portion, as shown above, handily feeds two.
The soy-roasted chicken is also featured in the chicken curry noodles shown at the top of this post. A part of Wee Nam Kee’s Laksa Festival specials, this features a portion of sliced fowl atop that classic combination of noodles in a thick coconut broth flavoured with laksa leaf, ginger, and chilies. You will be given the choice between steamed chicken and the roast, of course. I say: go with the roast as it adds smoky nuance to a Nonya favourite.
Wee Nam Kee also does a number of non-poultry dishes, of which the tofu roasted pork with black beans will appeal to anyone who either loves the classic combination of pork and tofu (as in the local tokwa’t baboy) or classic Oriental braises. Here, deep-fried pork with a deliciously crisp crackling skin is braised with fried tofu (taupok) in a rich, dark sauce made with fermented black beans. You get a little of the sweetness of the pork balancing the earthiness of the fried tofu, all coated with the sauce. My only complaint here is that the sauce was a touch on the salty side; still that’s what the rice is for…
The only real flaw in the meal was the dish of mixed vegetables; there was nothing, really, to set it apart from other renditions of the dish. Better, indeed, to opt for the steamed greens with either garlic or oyster sauce if you’re craving for veg.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable meal and it somewhat made up for a rather harrowing birthday. Now for other things to celebrate…
Wee Nam Kee: Ground Floor,