New Branch for Chicken Wings PM Famously Queued For

img_8041For a dependably indulgent chicken wing, Eng Kee Chicken Wings is the one many flock to. Even our Prime Minister once famously stood in line for half an hour to get his chicken wing fix at the Redhill branch back in 2014. Indeed, the taste of Eng Kee chicken wings is as fresh and delicious as it was when I first started having supper at their original Commonwealth stall twenty years ago. And joy of joys, they now have a new branch serving up the same famous wings in West Coast Drive.

img_8047Opened just last year, the family behind the famed wings has taken over management of an entire kopitiam at Block 505. With a daily best of three thousand chicken wings sold across all three branches, I needed to check if things were up to scratch at the newest Eng Kee branch. My concerns might have been premature, because owner Mr Lim informed me that their seasonings are “all standardised” and the wings (imported from Brazil) are marinated overnight at Commonwealth before being distributed to all three branches. For the perfect signature product, they even have one staff member whose sole purpose is to choose only frozen chicken wings of similar size to ensure an even cook.


For the next six hours or so, the chosen wings luxuriate in a marinade of oyster sauce, light soy sauce, salt, white pepper and other “secret seasonings”. The next day, they get a vigorous massage so that the marinade melds into every nook and cranny.

The next step is preparing a simple, light batter of rice flour and water, in which the marinated wings get a dip, before their final destination – a wok full of sizzling-hot vegetable oil. For wings that are juicy on the inside, yet crispy on the outside, Mr Lim said two factors need to be well-controlled: temperature and time.

How hot the oil gets is crucial. Too much heat and the wings’ exterior burns but interior remains raw. Too little heat and the wings absorb too much oil, resulting in unappetizingly greasy chicken. Less experienced staff might use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil, but his more experienced staff need only eyeball the wok to know.

How long the wings are fried for is also important – seven to eight minutes is the optimum cook time in their boiling bath of oil, which is changed often so it doesn’t darken or turn stale. Mr Lim insists that the wings need to be wok-fried by hand, not in an automated fryer, because they require constant watching and turning for that coveted even, golden colour.


Their adherence to tradition activated a powerful nostalgia in me. These were the kind of wings you remember eating as child, the kind mum might fry up for a special occasion like a birthday or class party. Eng Kee’s fried chicken wings smelt enticingly savoury and were becomingly burnished, with a light crusting over tender, juicy meat. A gentle umami had penetrated right down to the bone and the light flavour of its oyster and soya sauce marinade permeated the chicken.

img_1110I especially appreciate a chicken wing for the different textures you get – the winglet portion is smooth and succulent, the drumlet portion is slightly drier yet yields a meatier bite, while the wing tip is all about the texture of crispy-fried chicken skin. Surprisingly, the deep-fried wings were not too oily, especially when eaten hot. Chilli sauce was provided for a sweet and not-too-spicy contrast to the wings, but I didn’t need it. The decadent dish was good enough on its own. I easily polished off four wings in one sitting.

img_8049Eng Kee’s secret to success was evident. It’s all about consistency, keeping to tradition and preserving the original taste of the wings without skimping on quality or ingredients. “No shortcuts,” Mr Lim said firmly. That, and maintaining their low prices, which have remained unchanged for years. “Our wings are still $1.30, noodles only eighty cents. Very affordable.”

img_8051The signature dish of Eng Kee has always been fried chicken wings, but they’ve also supplemented their menu to include fried noodles ($0.80), along with extra ingredients like ngoh hiang ($1.10), fishcake ($0.50) and vegetables ($0.50). Kind of like econ breakfast beehoon, except served through lunch and dinner.

For all these reasons, Eng Kee has always enjoyed brisk business, with generations of loyal customers who continue returning for their favourite chicken wings, in spite of the long lines. For now though, the new West Coast outlet appears to be the best bet for a queue-free experience. But to cut any wait time, Mr Lim left me with this parting hack: get online and order your wings for pickup or free island-wide delivery!


  • TASTE:
    Denise ate at the Eng Kee Chicken Wings branch located at
    Block 505 West Coast Drive, Singapore 120505. It’s open Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am to 2pm and 4pm to 8pm. Closed on Mondays.

Nostalgic Bakes

Click here to listen/ download the podcast for this week’s episode – hot & fresh out of the oven!


This week, our Makan Kaki Chef Anthony Yeoh of Summerhill Bistro in Sunset Way shares with us his discovery of more eats in his ‘hood, in particular a super-nostalgic bakery that serves up the very taste of our childhood! Balmoral Bakery is an institution for Sunset residents and it’s the good, old-fashioned kind of confectionary you’ll find in most HDB estates.

Continue reading “Nostalgic Bakes”

Wanton Mee – Wan of Singapore’s Most Wanted!

Click HERE to listen/ download podcast of this week’s saucy episode!


Hello Foodies! We see the return of last week’s Makan Kaki, Head Chef of Burnt Ends, Jake Kellie, who’s off to Western Australia this weekend to headline the Feast in the Forest at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. We caught him just before his departure to recommend more makan and he offered up his favourite Wanton Mee stall at Hong Lim Food Centre, which sees relentlessly long lines at lunchtime. Of course, Singaporeans know that a long queue means good things at the end of the wait and Chef Jake is no exception – he’s willing to wait in line because their noodles are just that good! A typical visit to Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist sees Chef Jake start off with some crispy, tasty, deep-fried Wantons that are packed full of minced pork and shrimp.

To follow-up, he gets a bowl of dry Wanton Mee with Char Siew. He loves the fat, juicy parcels of boiled dumplings floating in soup, which he scoops into his noodles and mixes in with the sauce. This way, the soft, pillowy, boiled Wantons take on lots of flavour from the sauce mixture.

Continue reading “Wanton Mee – Wan of Singapore’s Most Wanted!”

DIY Hum Jin Pang

Click here for Denise’s interview with the resident Masterchef Singapore Judges Audra Morrice, Bjorn Shen & Damian D’Silva:

Click here to listen/ download podcast of Judge Bjorn Shen‘s recommendation for Hum Jin Pang!


This week’s makan recommendation is the first of our Masterchef Singapore series, starting with Judge Bjorn Shen’s go-to place for Ham Chin Pang (咸煎饼 – literally, salty fried cake), or in this case, Hum Jin Pang, which is also the name of the stall found at Maxwell Food Market. The stall serves up two deep-fried varieties – savoury or sweet. In Bjorn’s words, this stall is “so gangster” that you have to cook your own food.

Continue reading “DIY Hum Jin Pang”

Ole Ole Ole, Ola Ola!

Click here to listen to this week’s episode!


Hey Foodie Friends! Looking for some really sublime seafood done Spanish-Latin-American-style? This is THE place chefs love to go and you should too! This week, ur Makan Kaki Chef Bjorn Shen of Artichoke Restaurant recommends OLA Cocina Del Mar, a wonderful contemporary, open kitchen restaurant and bar that serves only the freshest and sustainably sourced seasonal produce. Helmed by Peruvian chef-owner Daniel Chavez, OLA has been making waves since it opened back in 2013.

Continue reading “Ole Ole Ole, Ola Ola!”


Click to watch the full video!

In Singapore where you can have sashimi for breakfast, prata for lunch, bulgogi for dinner and just about anything else in between, you’ll excuse this Hokkien girl for not having the chance to acquaint herself much with the food of her people. Until recently, that is. In my quest to get in better touch with my Hokkien roots, I’m grateful to my Makan Kakis – restaurateur & food writer, Violet Oon and Theatre’s Broadway Beng, Sebastian Tan – for pointing me in the right direction, starting with deep-fried snacks, steeped in hand-made Hokkien tradition. If you love Ngor Hiang, Liver Rolls and the like, let us take you from the Heart of the City to the Heartland of the North, and give you two tempting options.

TRY THIS: China Street Fritters
Stall 64, Maxwell Road Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184. Tel: 92386464. Open 12-8pm Tuesday – Sunday (Closed Monday).
This is a stall that takes Violet Oon way back to her early days as a professional food taster in 1974, but goes back even further to when hawkers literally sold their wares on the street. This Hokkien snack stall is a family business that used to operate out of China Street in the 1950s and moved to China Square in the 1970s. These days, China Street Fritters is run by the affable Ng Brothers over at a stall in Maxwell Food Centre. Many have been bowled over by the traditional flavours, the “original” taste of the fritters and the richness of the delicacies, as many older folk who flock to the stall will testify.

In this day and age of factory-made products, it’s heart-warming to see hawkers who are still proudly making their food by hand, according to the same recipes that have been passed down through generations. I definitely got a crash course in typically Hokkien snacks during my visit to China Street Fritters, so here’s a quick run-down of some best-sellers:

• Guang Chiang – the traditional pink Hokkien sausage made from a lean pork & a flour paste mixture, enhanced by the typically Hokkien deep fried flat fish called Pee Her, which gives the sausage a delightful umami. This mixture is stuffed into pig’s intestine and the distinctive pink is actually food colouring, which gives the Guan Chiang its traditional look.
• Ngor Hiang – Rolls made from minced pork, good quality Five Spice powder, all wrapped in bean curd skin, steamed, then deep fried.
• Liver Rolls – cubes of cooked liver, Chinese chives and slivers of pork fat (their secret ingredient for ultimate flavour!). The Ng brothers proudly call this their Hokkien version of sushi, because of the way its cross-section looks when cut and fanned out on a plate
• Egg Slice – Eggs beaten with flour, lard & other flavourings, steamed, sliced and then finally pan-fried. This has a firm texture similar to luncheon meat.
• Century Egg with ginger.
• Fried Bee Hoon – this reminds Violet of the kind served up in our old school canteens. Plain bee hoon fried with soya sauce & bean sprouts. The thing is, plain bee hoon is very hard to do well, but theirs is fragrant and tasty despite being “plain”.

Everything needs to be doused liberally with their wonderful starch sauce & chilli sauce. The starch sauce is not gloopy, but silky and fresh, with silver threads of egg running through. The sweet, runny chilli sauce has a strong, solid flavour from the chilli powder.

OR THAT: Old Chong Pang 老忠邦五香虾饼
#01-166, Chong Pang Market & Food Centre,104 Yishun Ring Rd, Singapore 760104. Open 6-10pm Tuesday – Sunday (closed Monday).
This stall in the North of Singapore is a popular one and has been frying up Hokkien snacks since 1986. Old Chong Pang is owned and operated by a friendly husband and wife team who also just happen to be Sebastian Tan’s uncle and aunt on his maternal side of the family. Interestingly, just like the owners of China Street Fritters, they are also Ngs!

Their stall sees a steady stream of dinner-time customers who have a staggeringly vast array of snacks to choose from. Here, you’ll find the usual hand-made favourites like Ngor Hiang, Liver Roll, Sausage and Egg Slice, along with Tau Kwa, Fishballs and Century Egg with ginger. And then there are other goodies like prawn rolls, shredded yam fritters, and 2 kinds of prawn fritters that Mrs Ng says are also hand-made with pride. Fried bee hoon with bean sprouts is also served here at Old Chong Pang, along with a similar sweet, runny chilli sauce.

What Old Chong Pang has going for it is the sheer variety of choices and the deliciously briny prawn fritters (one is much like a small pancake studded with tiny shrimp, and the other is a huge, crisp, yet fluffy explosion of batter embedded with crunchy prawns). Another must-try is their stewed soy-sauce pork. Tasty morsels gleaned from a pig’s head – from lean meat framed by layers of fat and gelatinous skin to crunchy cartilaginous slices of ears – are slow braised in soy till tender and go so very well spooned over the bee hoon, which just sops up all the fats and juices like a sponge. Add all the other crunchy deep-fried elements and you get a very textured, satisfying, albeit calorific sampling of Hokkien street food culture.

A lot of the snacks are essentially protein with a lot of flour mixture and if I were to hazard a guess, this is part of a thrifty tradition of stretching out the use of pricier meats and egg. Frying preserved the ingredients and added flavour. Eaten with bee hoon, these would have made for a substantial, but relatively cheap meal for those engaged in manual labour.


Fat, Lucky & Quintessentially Singaporean

Hi Makan Kakis,

All this month we’re celebrating Singapore’s 52nd Birthday by asking our rolling panel of foodie friends what they consider some of the most unique Singaporean food, so you can really look forward to a very sedap and patriotic August 2017!

This week, I’m thrilled to welcome yet another Makan Kaki, who’s long been an avid cook and entertainer, besides holding down her career as a food writer and award-winning book author. Please meet Annette Tan, who’s been making headlines after her private dining concept took off in a big way! She’s the brains, beauty and brawn behind FatFuku, which offers you the experience of dining at her home as she whips up a menu from her childhood memories. From her family’s Chinese New Year staple of Mee Siam fried into a crispy pancake, to Curry Devil Pie inspired by her Eurasian friends to her Bak Kwa Jam Baklava, Annette is all about re-imagining local favourites that are hearty, witty and delicious. Today, she kicks off our run-up to National Day with her recommendation of a quinessentially Singaporean-style restaurant in the East Coast…



Annette grew up and still lives in the East, so trust her as she takes us for a deliciously retro feast at Hua Yu Wee, a very traditional, Singaporean Seafood restaurant, which has been serving hungry Singaporeans classic zichar dishes since the 1970s. Annette has been eating there since she was a child and she remembers her cousin’s Grandma living just next door, so they literally used to bang on the Hua Yu Wee’s fence, calling out, “Auntie, chao fan (fried rice)!”. Hua Yu Wee remains a neighbourhood stalwart, operating out of the very same house it began in, one of the last structures of its kind along East Coast Road. It exudes the charm and culinary bustle of a bygone era and its retro, nostalgic atmosphere is probably also what keeps diners flocking back again and again. That, and the undeniably yummy food, of course!

There are a handful of dishes that Annette always orders when she visits Hua Yu Wee and we recommend you do too! Definitely get the Chilli Crab, which Annette says is, in her opinion, one of the best in Singapore.

On balmy evenings, bring your own booze, sit outside in the backyard at one of their stone tables and get your hands dirty digging into this awesome Chilli Crab.

Indulge in crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside deep-fried Man Tou, succulent fresh crab with a thick eggy gravy that’s sweet, but with enough spice to balance things out. This is truly a taste of old Singapore!

Be sure to add the classic Cantonese Har Lok (fresh prawns wok-fried in a sweet caramelised soy gravy with ginger and spring onion) to your order and get that sauce all over some fluffy white rice.

Hua Yu Wee is known for their traditional dishes, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t kept up with times, bringing together classic cooking with little modern twists. For example, try their Lala Clam Hor Fun, which is soft and silky but topped with a crispy garnish of deep-fried noodles for texture. The Feng Sha Chicken is also a wonderful rift on Ayam Penyet.

This is the Chinese version of flattened chicken – roasted to a mouth-watering golden-brown, this chicken is indeed flat (in fact, if you order it as takeaway, it comes in what looks like a pizza box tied with pink rafia string!), juicy and boasts a crispy skin to die for!  Add their sambal or the addictive spring onion, garlic, ginger dipping sauce and fireworks will go off in your mouth!

Hua Yu Wee remains a charming throwback to old Singapore, from the chatty staff still dressed in their “SQ” batik-print shirts & kebayas, to the colonial house it still occupies, to the open courtyard for al fresco dining (although back in the day, it used to be much closer to the beach and the sea!). If you prefer dining in air-conditioned comfort, sit inside the house and also watch out for the “show” – the long kitchen is housed separately and the line of cooks juggle live seafood, roaring flames and hot woks is indeed a sight to behold!

462 Upper East Coast Rd, Singapore 466508
Open Daily: 4 – 11.30pm
Tel: +65 6442 9313


Where Chefs Eat: John Kunkel of The Bird Southern Table & Bar

Denise with CEO & Founder of The Bird, John Kunkel
On a recent work trip to Miami, a friend from Houston recommended I try Yardbird, a restaurant renowned for its signature Southern-fried chicken and waffles. I was not disappointed by my visit there as a solo diner. Great food, cocktails and service got me all excited when I discovered upon return to Singapore, that they were opening a branch here at Marina Bay Sands! Even better, I got to meet the man behind the brand and pick his award-winning brains about everything from food, to creativity and music. The affable John Kunkel was recently in town for the official launch of The Bird, but made a little time to discuss with me his favourite things on the menu and also to recommend some makan places he’s enjoyed in Singapore.

First of all, the Yardbird restaurants in different locations are not cookie-cutter – while the classics like their fried chicken with cheese waffles, Bourbon-maple syrup & house-made hot sauce and minty watermelon salad remain the same, Chef Kunkel has taken time with his staff to come up with new cocktails and dishes that are specifically designed for the Singapore palate. Take their Low Country Laksa – a South US meets Singapore dish that gets inspiration from New Orleans Creole-style cooking, featuring seared Snapper in a ginger-coconut broth. There’s also the Black Pepper Crab Cakes, where Maryland meets Singapore. Don’t miss their deviled eggs, given a little umami twist with smoked trout roe topping. Wash everything down with a yummy Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade – dangerously refreshing & fruity, with an alcoholic kick.

Click here & here for more of my interview with John Kunkel
Click here for a few of his favourite places to eat at whilst here in Singapore

Highlights from THE BIRD’S Menu:

Bourbon Blackberry Lemonade

Deviled Eggs

Preacher’s Ham & Cheese Biscuits

Bone-in Beef Short-Ribs

Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles
B1-07, Galleria Level
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
LUNCH Daily 11:00am – 4:00pm
DINNER Daily 4:00pm – 11:00pm
DRINKS & LIGHT SNACKS Daily 11:00pm – 2:00am
WEEKEND BRUNCH SAT & SUN 10:00am – 4:00pm
TEL: +65 6688 9959

Some Local Places John Kunkel recommends:

1. Burnt Ends
Modern Australian Barbeque for that open fire-style of cooking. Try their signature Sanger – made from pulled pork shoulder, homemade cole slaw & chipotle aioli sandwiched in a brioche bun.
20 Teck Lim Road
Open Tues-Sat
Lunch: Wednesday – Saturday 11:45am – 2pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 6:00pm to Late
Tel: +65 6224 3933

2. FOC for excellent Catalan-style Spanish Tapas, including their grilled octopus, croquetas, patatas bravas & squid ink paella.
40 Hong Kong Street
Open Mon – Sat 12 – 2pm, 6 – 10:30pm
Tel: +65 6100 4040

3. Atlas Bar for great cocktails in a gorgeous Art Deco environment.
Parkview Square
600 North Bridge Road
Singapore, 188778
Open Mon – Sat (Closed Sun)
Mon – Thu: 10am – 1am
Fri: 10am – 2am
Sat: 3pm – 2am
Telephone: +65 6396 4466

4. Roti Prata from Lau Pa Sat – for that perfect balance between crispy, fluffy pastry and mellow, spiced curry.

Lau Pa Sat (Telok Ayer Market)
18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Open 24 hours Daily
Tel: +65 6220 2138