One of Singapore’s best Teochew restaurants, Huat Kee, has relocated from its shophouse along Amoy Street to their new premises at RELC Building on Orange Grove Road near Shangri-la Hotel. We understand that their new location started operations on 1 June 2015. We were there at Huat Kee Teochew restaurant RELC Building soon after that to check our their new place.
We noticed two things immediately when we stepped into the newly opened Huat Kee Teochew restaurant at RELC Building. First, it is obvious that people running Huat Kee have many friends, as you can see rows of bouquets lined up along the walls of the place as soon as you step out of the lift on the second floor of the RELC Building. The second thing was that things like ambience and atmosphere were probably low on their priorities as the new restaurant was set up with a very simple and fuss free decor which can be summed up in two words : bright and white.
The layout of the restaurant was a bit curious. Some tables seem to spill out into the open space near the lift lobby, in addition to the enclosed the restaurant space where there were a few private rooms.
As it was still the first week of operations, Huat Kee was still using the old menu from Amoy street. Anyway, with traditional Teochew restaurants, the familiar dishes do not change much and you can safely order your favourite items without looking at the menu. Which was what we did – the only concern was whether there will be any departure from their quite reasonable pricing now that they have moved to RELC Building.
We ordered a quintessential Teochew dish – cold crab. This was listed as “seasonal price” on the menu. We only found out the cost when the bill came at the end – $45. It was a reasonable price to pay for a medium-sized crab with a lot of roe. It was fleshy and the meat was firm. A good start to the meal. Two types of sauces were provided – the traditional sweet Teochew sauce and a vinegar with ginger slivers (a more modern development mirroring that Cantonese sauce used for hairy crabs in the winter months). Both are suitable and it is a matter of personal preference. We think the crab meat parts go better with the sweet sauce while the roe parts taste better with the vinegar.
Our second item was the prawn rolls (hae chor) ($12). These were deep fried and probably not very healthy. We reasoned that we don’t eat these every day and so were not deterred. The taste was good and the skin was crispy. These are good to go with a beer or crisp white wine such as the bottle we had brought along. Huat Kee continues their practice of not charging corkage which is welcomed.
Our last savoury dish, and the main event, was the threadfin (or ikan kurau) fish tail. This was also a “seasonal price” item on the menu which also turned out to cost $45. We thought it was also reasonable for the size and quality of the fish. The fish was deep fried so as to have a crispy surface with the meat still moist. The fish was fresh and served in a tasty broth which uses the traditional Teochew bean sauce. This was the best dish of the day. We recommend this as an alternative to the more commonly ordered steamed pomfret.
A meal at a Teochew restaurant would not be complete without the traditional yam paste dessert – oh nee. We ordered one to be shared as the earlier dishes were really substantial. The oh nee ($4) had a smooth texture and had a generous topping of gingko nuts and pumpkin. It was just nice when shared by two persons. That brought our meal at the newly opened Huat Kee Teochew Restaurant at RELC Building to a sweet ending.
If you thought that the old premises at Amoy Street was plain, Huat Kee Teochew restaurant at RELC Building is even plainer, except for a corner where some traditional Chinese elements were featured. But that is fine with us as the quality of the food remains high and there appears to be no change in their prices. The location is also more convenient (for us at least). You don’t have to struggle with roadside coupon parking. The carpark charge here in the evenings and on weekends is $3.50 per entry.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee (1998) Pte Ltd
#02-01 RELC Building
30 Orange Grove Road
Tel: 6423 4747