The market for Singaporean food is fast becoming popular here. Many Singapore based restaurants are now opening their branches here in Manila (such as Toast Box, Bread Talk, Ya Kun Kaya and many more), reaching out to Filipinos and even foreign nationals who are used to these restaurants / cafes in Singapore and one of which is Wee Nam Kee.
Wee Nam Kee has been an “institution” in the art of making Hainanese Chicken in Singapore. When news broke out that a branch of Wee Nam Kee will be opened here in Manila, Filipinos (and many others) who frequent the restaurant in Singapore were thrilled. This means that we can have Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken anytime we want to!
Inside Wee Nam Kee, Makati
I visited Wee Nam Kee on the second day of their soft opening. As expected, there were still things need to be polished. I was there with my boss and an officemate of mine. The waiters were still confused of what to do, our orders took some time before it arrived our table, the bill took a while too and lastly, there were no softdrinks (it’s not me complaining on that, my officemate is a softdrinks addict 😉 . Decided to go their at 2 pm because I know that the waiting list during lunch is just terrible. Anyway, I understood that they’re still on their second day and it’s not expected of them to be oh so perfect.
After 1 week, the PR agency of Wee Nam Kee (Stratworks) invited us to the food tasting event. In my mind, I wished that they have improved a bit. While we were there, the son of the owner of Wee Nam Kee, Mr.Wee Jr. was there and was kind enough to answer our questions. I learned from Mr. Wee that the Restaurant here is actually very posh compared to their restaurant in Singapore. He said that the air conditioner affects the whole Hainanese chicken meal itself – the chicken and the chicken rice dry up easily. Mr. Wee Jr. was a very jolly man and welcome to any kind of criticism. I’ve told him about my experience the first time I was there and he said that the staff is still learning – even the Filipino – Chinese owners here.
And so let the showcasing of their food begin.They served us with their best seller dishes – of course the Chicken was definitely there. For my drink, I ordered Barley Juice – a popular drink in Singapore. By the way, order their iced tea because it’s made of real tea and not like other restaurants who serve powdered iced teas.
They served us Baby Kai Lan sauteed in oyster sauce and garlic as our vegetable dish. By the way, Kai Lan is also called the Chinese Brocolli.
Quite got disappointed on the Cereal Prawns because it wasn’t spicy at all. The ones I had when I was in Singapore was spicy. According to Mr. Wee Jr., they had to adjust this to adapt the Filipino taste. I am not quite sure if they have added a little spice now, I guess you’ll just have to tell the waiter if you want it to be spicy. But anyway, it tasted good (if I will not compare it to the Cereal Prawns in Singapore).
And now my favorite part, the chicken! We were served with a large plate of chicken – a combination of steamed, soya and roasted chicken. My favorite is the roasted chicken. All of their chicken are very tender and moist. It doesn’t have lots of meat. If the chicken has more meat, it won’t be as tender and moist. Mr. Wee Jr. said that the chicken that they use in Singapore is fatter than the ones here. It may not be as good as the ones I’ve tasted in Singapore but definitely much closer the ones in Singapore. Most of the Hainanese chickens in other restaurants here aren’t as tender and moist as Wee Nam Kee’s. Whenever I’m in Wee Nam Kee, I always order the roasted chicken personal set.
You can enjoy the chicken by yourself or with company. Their personal set, which includes chicken rice and soup, costs PHP 168. They also have sets for groups of people with prices ranging from PHP 168 – PHP 888.
Sauces (Chili, Ginger and Sweet)
What I love about Wee Nam Kee is the abundance of the sauces for the chicken. It’s just sits on the table and you don’t need to ask this from the waiter. Of course the proper way of eating Hainanese chicken is to mix the three sauces, depending on which ones you’d like to have more flavor. For me, I like mine with more ginger and chili sauce.
Wee Nam Kee is always packed with people during lunch and dinner. Here’s a tip, go there early if you want to avoid being in the waiting list. They only accept reservations during weekdays. Or if you want, have the Hainanese chicken rice to go. Sometimes, during lunch breaks, I go to Wee Nam Kee and order a personal set. It’s much faster than dining inside the restaurant. 🙂