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Zhi Char @ Keng Eng Kee Seafood (aka KEK Seafood) March 27, 2013

Posted by gurkhason in food, singapore.
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KEKOne of the more popular food choice with heartlanders is zhi char (煮炒)because they are a cheap alternative from eating at a restaurant.  Upon a recommendation of a friend, we travelled all the way to Bukit Merah Lane to try out KEK Seafood or Keng Eng Kee Seafood in its long form.

If you visit a good zhi char store just like KEK Seafood, it gives you an economical seafood fare at hawker centre prices.  One gets a good zhi char in its unpretentious style near the local food centre or coffeeshop.  No fuss about travelling out to town or dressing up.

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For once, the zhi char trade has been dwindling to extinction because of inflation and inefficient modus operandi.  There were stores which held on to low prices admist increasing cost of materials and labour and competing at higher rental stores.  Many store owners once shut down the business because they simply couldn’t really manage the cost.  There were some who kept up with the pace of change – marketing and branding themselves that alleviate and distinguish themselves, but still providing the wallet-friendly version of homecook flavours to the general public.

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Deep fried Prawn-Paste Chicken ($10) are a absolute must have especially if you have children in tow.  The aroma from the fermented prawn paste is a very distinctive chinese-styled fried chicken.  I would say the taste beats the secret formula of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  At KEK Seafood, they used chicken parts instead of mid-joint wings goes to show how they care about cooking it in the old-schooled way.

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This is the Chinese Spinach with Three Eggs ($10).  A very delightful dish because of its really smooth, starchy gravvy.  You can see chuncks of century eggs, salted egg yolks and egg whites in this dish.

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One of my favourite dish in the zhi char outlet is Prawn Rolls ($8).  This prawn roll sets the standard of the store and a key determinant of whether I would come back again.  KEK’s prawn roll are crispy on the outside.  They are well flavoured with minced pork, prawns, carrots, and most importantly the water chestnut which gives the crunchy bites.

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Claypot Pig Liver ($10) with spring onion is a dish I seldom venture because eating innards are not everyone’s taste.  KEK’s pig liver are cut in generous, big chunky portion.  Because it is cooked in a claypot so it retains the warmth but yet the liver does not hardened making it hard to chew.

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This delightful dish – The Claypot Drunken Prawns ($15) is one of the highlights for the meal.  Big tiger prawns are used which are cooked in the herbal soup which was very quickly mopped up when served.  The prawns were like really huge!  No wonder this is my friend’s all-time favourite order when she visit KEK.

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A zhi char visit is never complete without an order of crabs.  We had the Salted Egg (Fried) Crabs that was finger tasting good.  I was a little weary with eating seafood because of my last bout of allergy attack from eating seafood so I went easy with this.  I didn’t know the price of the crab because my friend treated us the meal.  (Thanks Jessica!)  After the crab, we gave a testament to come visit KEK again.

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When the final order of the Moonlight Hor Fun (月光河粉) ($5) came we really had a shock.  Can you imagine 4 people having all the dishes above?  This name of this noodles comes about is because a raw egg was cracked above the fried hor fun and looks like a full moon.  I think we ordered the small version but it came in a portion that we think can feed more than 4 hungry man.  The hor fun was; I repeat; a generous portion with fish slices, pork, and cuttlefish.

The final verdict: a repeat visit is in order!  I like most of the dishes we ordered above and remember there were many which I would like to order.  Although the service was a little lacking but that’s the zhi char style because you are left alone eating your own dinner without the service stuff fussing around you.  The atmosphere was great because there were a lot of patrons.  Just be prepared to roll up your sleeves a little as most of the seats are in non-airconditioned units.  Reservations are mandatory otherwise there might not be a table for you and your guests.

KEK Seafood
Blk 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1
#01-136
Singapore 150124
Tel: +65 6272-1038
Open daily
Lunch 11.30am to 1.45pm
Dinner 5pm to 10.45pm

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