Wednesday, 1 May 2013

New Swee Kee 新瑞记 Chicken Rice in Senai, Johor Bahru

New-Swee-Kee-新瑞记-Chicken-Rice-Senai-Johor-Bahru

Swee Kee 瑞记 Hainanese chicken rice ruled the chicken rice world in Singapore for two generations from 1949 before closing in Feb 1997. The plan originally was to renovate and expand the old shop in Middle Road, Singapore which had become an icon for locals and tourists alike. Meanwhile, the family and workers returned to Senai in Johor where they came from. In Jun 1997, the relatives set up New Swee Kee 新瑞记 with the blessing of the founder Mr. Po 莫瑞安 who (for unknown reasons) did not proceed with the plans to expand Swee Kee in Singapore.


I have (unfortunately) never tried the original Swee Kee in Singapore but the worker who had been with the old shop told me some interesting snippets about it. He said that every day the founding boss 莫瑞安 would personally select the live chicken one by one at the market, picking only the best ones. The chicken were then slaughtered at the old shop ensuring that the meat was super fresh. The old shop also used the best imported Thai fragrant rice.

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Other than these two (critical) aspects, New Swee Kee followed the traditions of the old shop as the owner (who is a nephew of the founder) and some of the workers are from the old shop. This is the current boss, the younger Mr. Po 莫泽安's son-in-law who will help take Swee Kee into the third generation. 

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New Swee Kee has done rather well - it was named one of the Top Ten chicken rice shops in Malaysia by Guang Ming Daily 光明日 in 2007. New Swee Kee now occupies two shop lots in Senai. On the wall are several pictures of visits by celebrities and familiar dignitaries.

Now, Swee Kee is popular among the workers from the nearby Senai industrial park and golfers from the nearby Palm Golf Resort. Travellers using Senai airport also drop by.

Chicken-Rice-Johor-Bahru

The chicken are laid out in the old Hainanese way in traditional large enamelled pans. Those in the foreground are normal American broiler chicken 肉and those in the background are kampung chicken.

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We had half of a normal farm chicken . The chicken meat was tender with a firm, springy chewy bite (not soft). The meat had a nice subtle chicken flavour and aroma.

The chicken was served without sauce as in the old Hainanese way. Some people may find this unappealing but neat is the only way to be able to taste the chicken's natural flavours. Unfortunately, American broiler is a pretty much flavourless breed. (Kampung chicken would be more suitable for this style of Hainanese poached chicken but it comes at a premium price.)

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The rice was fragrant, fluffy, flavoured with chicken oil but was not overly greasy. 

Chicken-Soup-Johor-Bahru

The clear chicken soup that comes with the order was aromatic and tasty. The umami flavour come from slow boiling these chicken heads and necks.

Ginger-Sauce

Swee Kee's ginger sauce is outstanding. It has the aroma and taste of ginger blended with savouriness from chicken oil. 

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The sourish chili sauce was the watery, drippy kind - not as good. My preference is for my chili sauce to be like a paste. 

Fried-Bean-Sprouts-Johor-Bahru

We liked this fried taugeh (bean sprout) side dish. The fresh taugeh was stir fried with bits of salted fish and lard crackles.

Our total bill for half a normal American broiler chicken, taugeh and two herbal drinks came to RM25.

Swee Kee chicken rice is certainly one of the better chicken rice shops in Johor. But, it's dressing sauce free, old style may not be appealing to people accustomed to chicken served bathed in sesame oil, "oyster" sauce or soy sauce. 

I will eat at Swee Kee again, if I am nearby.

Swee Kee's chicken rice is quite similar to Singapore's Yet Con chicken rice.

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New-Swee-Kee-新瑞记-Chicken-Rice-Senai-Johor-Bahru

Restaurant name: Swee Kee 瑞记海南鸡饭
Address: 98, Jalan Bintang, Taman Bintang, Senai, Johor
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/HAKB8
GPS: 1.614658,103.659009
Hours: 9:00am to 7:00pm (close at 3:00pm on Mondays)
Non Halal

Date visited: 29 Apr 2012

Return to Johor Kaki homepage.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Tony, sorry to say but this is nothing like the original Swee Kee. It's pretty bad chicken rice even for JB standards.

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    Replies
    1. Yup, I've not tried the original Swee Kee - how I wished I had :P This New Swee Kee is not the best chicken I've tasted but compared to the numerous stalls in JB, imho, this is still better than the average. I'll eat this, if I want to eat chicken rice when I am in Senai.

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    2. Hmmm...try this one in Taman Century (1.486190, 103.760051). I think this beats New Swee Kee anytime. Let us know what you think. They have chicken porridge which is something different from other chicken rice stalls. Overall, JB chicken rice is pretty lacking compared to other states and Singapore, which I think is best represented by Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell.

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    3. Ah Thanks, I will give the shop you suggested a try. Yes, I also feel that chicken rice is not strongly represented in Johor. The best one that comes to my mind is Jit Fatt in Muar, imho. I am still searching :))

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  2. Good that someone point it out, else I would have another long drive from Loyang (where I stay) to Senai and come home with a lousy feeling.

    Really appreciated the comments.

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  3. Over rated. A wasted detour from nse for me. Grossly over priced for a tasteless breast and a run of mill fried half drum stick. The soup is really bland with bits of fresh cabbage. The rice is typical hainan style but less fragrance only. Only the taugeh is good. Total 2 stars.

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  4. It has been 3 years since we last try out Swee Kee, Senai. Remembered the ever so fragrant rice taste. Good on its own without needing any chicken to go with it. Thought to give it a try today and it was a total disappointment. The rice was not as fragrant as before. The chicken tasteless. The Ginger was sour. Chili was also nothing to shout about. Overall... I think their standard and quality dropped tremendously since we last tried it 3 years ago. Pretty quiet for a lunch crowd too.

    ReplyDelete

I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is the same as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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