Keng Eng Kee started out selling Hainanese Chicken Rice in a small coffeeshop at Havelock Road in the 1950s. During the 70s, they expanded their operations to the tze char business and moved to the current location after the closure of the former Havelock Road Hawker Centre.
Keng Eng Kee Seafood Restaurant (or KEK for short) operates out of an entire coffeeshop with the outside seating arrangement spilling over to the next block where a small air-conditioned room is available upon booking.
We were there around 6pm on a Saturday and the place is jam-packed with customers. I noticed that a short queue of walk-in customers waiting for a table is already forming by the side.
Business is brisk and it is hard to get a table for a large group without reservations. Thankfully, my brother has already called them the day before to reserve a table for five as well as a crab.
Yam Basket $20
I have a love-hate relationship with Yam Basket because I love the stir-fry ingredients inside although I cannot say the same about the yam.
I tried a small piece of it which is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside but no, I still do not like it. The only yam I like is the dessert kind like Teochew Yam Paste or even Yam Ice Cream.
The "treasures" in this particular Yam Basket is fresh and had a very strong aroma of wok hei.
Salted Egg Sotong $18/$28/$38
Next, we had the Salted Egg Sotong (Calamari) which is encased within a light and crispy batter. The salted egg flavor is pretty addictive making it hard to stop at one.
Coffee Ribs $12/$18/$25
When I walked past the neighboring tables, the alluring smell of the Coffee Ribs attracted my attention and I knew we have to give that a try!
When the dish arrived on our table, the aroma infiltrated our senses and that invigorating moment was divine. Everyone had nothing but praises for this Coffee Ribs.
The ribs were deboned for easier eating and are smothered in a caramelized sweet and savory sauce that's lip-smacking good.
Chinese Spinach with three Eggs $10/$15/$20
The Spinach were blanched just right as it still retains the crunch and there were thick cubes of century egg and salted egg.
However, the sauce came thickened with corn starch which I did not take a liking to. I would have very much prefer for them to leave the broth as a clear soup.
Chili Crab $58
Honestly, I do not like to eat crabs outside as it is way too much work for that measly amount of meat. Furthermore, I feel indignant paying for the shells which we have no use for except maybe to hang on the pomegranate tree.
Since it was already ordered, I might as well help myself to it. I had the claws but the meat were sticking to the shell so hard I have to pry them out with the chopsticks.
Steamed Mantou $1 each
I love the Mantou here!
They are so good, you can even eat it plain!
These steamed Mantous are much larger than the usual fried ones and they are so light and airy.
Mum ordered two more to take away for her next day's breakfast.
The Mantou soaking up on the unimpressive Chili Crab sauce
You know there are times when the Chili Crab sauce is so good that you wish there are more Mantou for you to wipe the plate clean? Well, not this. The sauce just did not impress me enough to have a second helping.
Would it have been better if we ordered the Salted Egg version instead?
Despite the crowd here, food is served pretty fast hence we do not have to wait for long. The food are reasonably priced while portion is also generous. At the recommendations of the server, we ordered the smallest portion for all our orders but it turned out to be quite a pretty generous portion that we even had leftovers to pack away.
I will still come back to this place though I might give the Chili Crab and Chinese Spinach with three Eggs a miss.
KEK is just minutes away from IKEA Alexandra so you can always go walk off some calories before heading home.
*Payment by credit card is available with a minimum spending of $30.
The dinner was a pre-celebration for Mum's birthday so sister-in-law bought a Blackforest Cake from Crystal Jade. It was not too sweet and everyone liked it.
KENG ENG KEE SEAFOOD 瓊榮記海鲜
124 Bukit Merah Lane 1
Mon - Sun: 12pm - 2.30pm, 5pm - 10pm
Reservation: +65 6272 1038
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/MJzC1RLWBBx
GPS Coordinates: 1.2857419,103.8014435
GPS Coordinates: 1.2857419,103.8014435
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