Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Sin Kee Chicken Rice Story from Street Stall to Bib Gourmand Singapore Michelin Guide 2018

Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice at Holland Drive has just been named one of 50 Bib Gourmand winners in the Singapore Michelin Guide 2018. This latest accolade will surely expand Sin Kee's already huge fan base to include more tourists.

The Sin Kee brand is a worthy representative of Singapore's unofficial national dish - chicken rice. Sin Kee is one of the stalwarts of Singapore chicken rice along with Boon Tong Kee, Wee Nam Kee, Swee Kee (now defunct) etc.

For the story of Sin Kee Chicken Rice, we have to go back to Kreta Ayer 牛車水 or Bullock Water Cart of the 1960s. The area was later renamed generically to Chinatown in the 1980s for tourists.

The whimsical moniker Bullock Water Cart 牛車水 came about because of the then ubiquitous buffalo pulled water carts. The bullock carts collected water from the well at Spring Street and distributed them around the area, hence the name Bullock Water Cart 牛車水. The well is gone but Spring Street is still there at the car park serving the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (built in 2007).

For the story of Sin Kee, we have to begin with another stall, Heng Ji 亨记 of Smith Street - the legendary food street of Bullock Water Cart.

Heng Ji 亨记 of Smith Street originally sold chicken porridge 雞粥.

Sin Kee Chicken Rice was founded by Leong Fook Wing 梁福榮. Leong worked for his uncle 雞粥亨 Kai Chok Heng (Chicken Porridge Heng) at Heng Ji since he was 7 years old after Leong's dad passed away.

Working with his uncle, Leong taught himself how to make chicken rice and eventually Heng Ji evolved from selling chicken porridge to become a chicken rice stall. Business boomed.

Leong subsequently founded his own chicken rice stall known as Sin Kee on Smith Street which he later moved to Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre (off Margaret Drive).

Photo credit: RememberSingapore.Wordpress.Com

It was at Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre (off Margaret Drive) in the 1980s that I first became a life long fan of Sin Kee Chicken Rice. I lived nearby here in the 1980s and Sin Kee was my regular dinner and supper hangout.

Meanwhile in 1983, Heng Ji Chicken Rice moved from Smith Street into Chinatown Complex Food Centre. It was part of Singapore Tourism Board's rebranding of Bullock Water Cart 牛車水 to Chinatown.

Heng Ji Chicken Rice in Chinatown Complex still thrives to this day, now run by Kai Chok Heng's son and daughter-in-law Ms 林恩爱.

Leong of Sin Kee had passed on and Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre was also demolished. Leong's legacy is carried on by sons Niven and Benson. The Sin Kee DNA can be found at 👉

🐔 Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice at Blk 40, Holland Drive by Benson.

🐔 Famous Sin Kee 正新記.馳名雞飯 at Compass One mall by Niven.

In addition, there are:

🐔 Heng Ji at Chinatown Complex
🐔 Sin Kee Uncle Chicken at Havelock Road (by Niven's disciples).

Sin Kee serves only poached chicken, known colloquially in Cantonese as 白斬雞 "white chopped chicken". In the Cantonese style, the poached chicken is dunked in cold or even iced water to stop the cooking, and to lock in the juices and natural flavours. (If not cooled down, the poached bird will continue to cook in its residual heat and become more fibrous.)

At Sin Kee, the chicken is cooked through i.e. not pink. The chicken is cut in big chunks with skin and bones in. The flesh is tender and juicy. There is a thin layer of congealed fat between the meat and skin.

The texture is tender, juicy and smooth to the bite. We can taste the chicken's dominant natural sweet flavours with the savoury soy sauce and aromatic oil dressing underlying.

Sin Kee's rice is aromatic and tastes savoury sweet as it is cooked with chicken stock, garlic, lemon grass etc. Traditionally, Sin Kee serves no soup as all of the chicken stock goes into cooking chicken rice. (I remember we used to buy a big bowl of dumpling soup 水餃湯 from Sin Kee's neighbour at Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre - perfect synergy there, chicken rice with dumpling soup.)

If you like to taste one of Singapore's best chicken rice, here are the details (click on the photo for the full blog post) 👉

Click on photo for full details ^

Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice 新记驰名鸡 | Chang Chen Mee Wah 长城美华 Coffeeshop, Block 40, Holland Drive, Singapore (5 minutes walk from Buona Vista MRT station) | 11:00am - 7:00pm (Monday off)

Click on photo for full details ^

Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice 正新記.馳名雞飯 | #02-37/40, Compass One, 1 Sengkang Square, Singapore @ Sengkang MRT Station | 10:30am - 9:30pm

Click on photos for full details ^

Heng Ji Chicken Rice 享記雞飯 | Blk 335, Smith Street #02-131, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore | 3:00pm to 8:00pm (Sunday off)

🎉🎉🎉 Congratulations Sin Kee Chicken Rice. Keep up the great work! 

Date: 21 July 2018

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1 comment:

  1. Martin Goh said on Johor Kaki FB: "Today was heading to Compass One for Sin Kee chicken rice but heard Chef Niven Leong H L not around so decided to go for bcm. I still prefer Compass One not just the chicken is more suitable for me, I found Niven a great friend."


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