Lee Kui Teochew Restaurant in Mosque Street is a top ‘must try’ Teochew restaurant in Singapore. It is a Teochew restaurant to go to not only for the food but also its authentic traditional atmosphere. The full name of the restaurant is Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Restaurant 李貴(亚蟹)席館. Enter this restaurant in Chinatown and be transported back in time to a restaurant in Singapore in the seventies.
The decor and furniture of Lee Kui Teochew Restaurant bring back nostalgic memories of the old days when such a place would probably be considered quite prestigious. In fact to eat out (to ‘jiak tok’) in a proper restaurant of any sort was a big deal in those days and that only happened on special occasions. The Chinatown of Singapore had been transformed significantly in recent times with the entry of hotels, pubs and tourist-centric retail businesses. But thankfully some of the old local businesses survive to still (barely) retain pockets of the old feeling of Kreta Ayer (牛车水).
The menu at Lee Kui Teochew Restaurant is predictable (even boring) as it contains the usual Teochew staples. But that was not a problem for us as we are also creatures of habit and tend to order the same old dishes each time we go to a traditional Teochew restaurant. A menu was shown to us but it was not really necessary as we had the items we like in mind. The menu does not have prices which could be a bit scary, but we trust that reasonable prices will be charged and that turned out to be the case.
We ordered deep-fried prawn balls ($12), fried oyster omelette ($12), a steamed pomfret ($42) and yam paste ($4) for dessert. This list of items is as quintessential Teochew as you can get!
The prawn balls were bouncy and flavourful. Various ingredients can be detected, such as the crunch of water chestnuts. A great starter, especially to go with the bottle of dry white wine that we had brought along.
The next dish was the oyster omelette. The version served here is oysters fried with just egg (orh neng), which is lighter than those fried with starch (orh luak). The oysters were medium sized and succulent. They look so good when individual portions were served onto small, super retro plates.
The highlight of the meal was the steamed pomfret. It felt so luxurious to eat a whole fish between the two of us. It was a glorious fish. The secret to the wonderful Teochew-ness of the dish was the freshness of the fish and the generous amount of condiments used – Chinese parsley, mushrooms, sour plum etc. You can see that these garnishes were stuffed into every nook and crevice of the fish. The result – no fishiness at all. The other by-product is the tasty fish soup. We can eat this every week!
Of course, all these tasty dishes should not be eaten on their own. They go best with rice or porridge. This time we decided on Teochew ‘mueh’ ($0.70 each). This style of porridge is very watery, and differs from the Cantonese ‘chok’ in that the grains of rice are still intact and provides texture to the porridge.
For dessert, it has to be oh nee. Yam paste with gingko nuts and pumpkin. That brought our meal to a sweet and heavy end. Lee Kui Teochew restaurant continues the traditional of being BYO friendly. Our bottle of 2010 Heritiers des Comtes Lafon Macon-Milly-Lamartine Clos du Four was opened, chilled and served without any fuss or corkage charge. Of course the glasses may not meet the high standards of some oenophiles, but we were quite satisfied with these arrangements.
Finally, speaking of Teochew nostalgia, nothing brings back images of old Singapore Teochew better than our two favourite Teochew comedians. Wang Sa and Ye Fong. We hope you like this old video.
Overall Rating: 5 TOPs
Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Restaurant 李貴(亞蟹)席館
8,9,10 Mosque Street
Tel: 6222 3654
11:00AM – 2:30PM; 5:00PM – 10:00PM