I used to get my soya sauce chicken noodle fix at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken & Rice until this happened - in July 2016, the good stall won the honour of being the world's first Michelin starred hawker stall and the world's least expensive Michelin meal. We are extremely happy for Mr Chan the owner, but it also means that we have to wait one to two hours for our usual soya sauce chicken noodle fix 😂
But this is Singapore - when it comes to food, we are never short on choices and alternatives - and, very good ones at that. Some say, even better (palm flat on chest honest).
For baby boomer Singaporeans, the first shops that come to mind for soya sauce chicken are Chew Kee and Chiew Kee, 釗記 and 釗記. The two famous soya sauce chicken stalwarts are less than 100 metres apart along Singapore Chinatown's Upper Cross Street.
Both Chew Kee and Chiew Kee came from the same family. Chew Kee was founded in 1947 and Chiew Kee was a sibling spin off some years later. Both shops have become synonymous with Cantonese soya sauce chicken in Singapore, each with their own fiercely loyal following (yes, Singaporeans are passionate about their food).
This morning, I tried both in succession - first at Chew Kee and then walked 100 metres to Chiew Kee.
Chew Kee's serving (red plate) costs SGD4.50 - it's egg noodles with a drumstick. Chiew Kee's serving (blue plate) costs SGD4 - egg noodles with a chicken wing. Both are more costly compared to soya sauce chicken poster boy, Liao Fan's SGD2.50 benchmark.
It's comparing Chew's drumstick with Chiew's chicken wings here, so it's as flawed as comparing apples and oranges. Bearing that in mind, both Chew and Chiew got their chicken texture spot on - tender and juicy with a bit of natural chicken taste.
As for the braising sauce, the flavours of Chew's sauce is more pronounced compared to Chiew's. Both Chew's and Chiew's are savoury sweet, just that Chew's is more robust though not by much - and, both shops' chicken are milder in flavour than Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle & Rice (the Michelin starred stall).
- Chew Kee - more savoury
- Chiew Kee - milder savouriness, sweeter.
Both Chew and Chiew use generic egg noodles which felt light. Both shops cooked the noodles to soft al dente doneness i.e. soft with a slight bouncy spring.
Both Chew and Chiew use a drippy sweet savoury soya sauce blend. Chew leans on more savoury while Chiew's was sweeter. Again, compared to Liao Fan, the flavours were mild whereas Liao Fan's savouriness was slightly too intense for my tastebuds. At Liao Fan, I prefer to eat my soya sauce chicken with plain white rice to balance the saltiness of their sauce.
Noodle sauce 👉
- Chew Kee - more savoury
- Chiew Kee - sweeter.
Overall, Chew Kee has slightly more pronounced flavours than Chiew Kee, though both are mild compared to Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Noodle & Rice.
👉If you can stand and wait an hour or two for Liao Fan's Hong Kong soya sauce chicken, you will enjoy a Michelin Star credential meal and it is more flavoursome as well. As for me, the wait is a little too long (for now), so I am happy with alternatives like Chew and Chiew while I check out other soya sauce chicken in Singapore. There are quite a few in Chinatown food complex itself, where Liao Fan is.
Restaurant name: Chew Kee Eating House
Address: 8 Upper Cross Street Singapore
GPS: 1°17'01.9"N 103°50'44.6"E / 1.283852, 103.845735
Hours: 9:00am to 7:00pm (Fri & Public Holiday off)
Tel: 6222 0507
Restaurant name: Chiew Kee Chicken Noodle House
Address: 32 Upper Cross Street Singapore
GPS: 1°17'03.1"N 103°50'42.5"E / 1.284186, 103.845153
Hours: 8:00am to 7:00pm (Weds off)
Tel: 6221 3531
Date visited: 21 Aug 2016
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