This week sees the return of our beloved cookbook author, restaurateur & Makan Kaki, Violet Oon, who’s been keeping very busy with the launch of her third and latest restaurant, Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay. Lucky for us, she’s taken some time off her very full plate to share with us a few more of her current favourites to dine at in Singapore, so let’s start with this famous, classic Teochew institution that has seen many location changes, but thankfully the quality of food has remained largely unchanged! Violet has been eating at Huat Kee since the 1980s, but this authentic Teochew Restaurant has been around since the late 1960s, first operating out of Wayang Street, before moving to the old Ellenborough Market (present day Swisshotel Merchant Court), then Happy World in Katong, followed by a longish stint along Amoy Street, before finally settling at the RELC Building along Orange Grove Road. But what about the food? Here’s what Violet really enjoyed at her last visit:
The suckling pig is excellent with a shatteringly crisp, fragrant skin.
Also try their Teochew Fried Kway Teow with kailan, which has a tremendous “wok hei” and lovely depth of flavour because theu use two types of chye por (preserevd radish) – the sweet and salty kind.
If it’s crispy, typically Teochew snacks you crave, they have it all – Hae Cho (Prawn Rolls) and the Liver Rolls too.
Another stand-out dish which Violet raves about is their Seared Sea Cucumber, which is first braised for hours in a rich pork broth, before it is seared in a hot pan for an extra smoky flavour. Now in itself, sea cucmber is tasteless and is usually eaten for its texture, but in this dish, you get the best of both worlds – delicious flavour from the arduous cooking process and amazing crunchy texture from the spongy, collagen-y meat!
To round off your feast at Huat Kee, you simply can’t go wrong with the classic Orh Nee (steamed, mashed yam cooked in oil, with hand-peeled ginko nuts).
If you prefer, the labour-intensive traditional Tau Suan is also good, as is the Teochew-style Cheng Tng, a cooling, nutritious brew of longan, white fungus and other herbs. Best thing about it is the hint of persimmon perfuming this dessert!
Violet loves Huat Kee for several reasons. Firstly, it continues to serve up wonderful Teochew cuisine after all these years in the business. Secondly, it’s a family business that has been passed on from generation to generation and continues to do well with the passing on of traditional recipes. Also, they’ve gone into food production, sourcing good quality, all-natural seafood like abalone and sea cucumber from countries like New Zealand, before distrubuting far and wide to places like China.The abalone, in particular, is unbleached, which means you get a natural, less processed product, free from bleach and other nasty chemicals. That’s why their abalone has a greyer hue. As for the sea cucumber, they semi-dry it for good texture and it is available to buy and take-home for your own future cooking endeavours. But why take home when you can let them cook it for you? And finally, location location location! It’s current RELC venue is big enough to seat 200 diners comfortably and there is ample parking.
So there you have it, the many reasons why Huat Kee remains Violet’s Teochew favourite – if you want quality produce cooked the proper way, maintaining the original taste and traditions, look no furthur than this family-run restaurant!
Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee
30 Orange Grove Road
#02-01 RELC Building
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm; 6 – 10pm
Tel : 6423 4747