Johor Kaki Travels for Food

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

Friday, 3 August 2018

Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant 黄金端记餐室 Singapore

I first came to Thien Kee Steamboat at Golden Mile Tower at Beach Road in Apr 1979. It was to celebrate end of BMT (Basic Military Training). Thien Kee was a top gathering place for NS boys (conscripts). The Army Market at Golden Mile Food Centre was across the road and the NCO Club where Singapore boys were initiated to alcohol with duty free beer was further down along Beach Road.

As almost all the makan kakis had been to Thien Kee Steamboat before but had not been here for decades since, I suggested that we meet here for nostalgia sake. Recent reviews of Thien Kee were mixed, so I was eager to find out for myself how our old favourite was doing today. After our lunch, I am glad to say that I still haven't lost that loving feeling for this old icon.

Thien Kee Steamboat was founded in 1952 at the old, colourful Bugis Street where nearly naked happy men danced on table tops (but that's a story for another post). Now located at the basement of the Golden Mile Tower, Thien Kee Steamboat looked exactly as I remembered it decades ago - the glass cabinet where they hang the chicken and roast meat was exactly where it was way back then 😄

Though a steamboat restaurant, my favourite thing at Thien Kee is their Hainanese chicken rice. In my mind, when the chicken is good, Thien Kee is good 😄

One thing I like about Thien Kee Steamboat is the simplicity - the steamboat ingredients are all put together on one plate. Want more, then just order more plates 😄 We had three plates of this.

Each plate has blood cockles, pork liver, pork slices, beef tripe, fried fish maw, sea cucumber, fish slices, squid, fish ball and prawns. The ingredients are simple, fresh and clean - Hainanese steamboat has that comforting familiarity.

We also had plates of fresh leafy green vegetables.

The idea is to cook these ingredients simply by boiling them in the pot of chicken soup. The steamboat dishes simply relied on their natural flavour for taste and that is enough so good.

Everybody cook their own meal but sharing the same pot of chicken soup. The staff constantly tops up the soup as it dries up rather quickly from the cooking.

The chicken stock was nicely mildly savoury sweet at the beginning but became quite salty towards the end of the meal as it was saturated with all the flavours from the meats that passed through it.

We had a whole chicken served in two large plates.

Thien Kee's poached chicken was good (as good as any on the island). The bird was cooked through and chopped in large chunks with bones in (I like it this way as most of the bird's juices are intact). The meat and skin were smooth and tender. The juicy meat was sweet with natural chicky flavour balanced with a mild savouriness from the dressing sauce.

The greasy rice grains were mostly broken but they were tender and well infused with savoury flavours and robust garlicky chicky aroma. I love it.

We also shared a large plate of Hainanese style pork chop. The deep fried pork chop was cut into strips and blanketed with a savoury tangy ketchup based sauce, onion, tomato and a few baked peas. It's an iconic Hainanese Western dish. The couple of pieces I had was on the dryish side and didn't have much flavour.

I am always in awe about how Sock Peng of 蓝天白云数格 blog is able to juggle taking photos, taking notes, journaling, engage in banter and taste food all at once. Then, post it all on social media in great detail before I even got home 😄

👉 Forty two years between 1979 and 2018, with different folks but same place and same loving feeling at Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat. If I have visitors from overseas coming, I will take them to Thien Kee Steamboat, the basement restaurant, as there are stories to tell about the place and us Singaporeans. The food is good, especially the chicken rice, and they will hear some things that delve a bit deeper about Singaporeans.

Ten of us, our total bill came to S$165 inclusive of drinks.

Restaurant name: Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat 黄金端记餐室
Address: 5001 Beach Road, #B1-20, Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199588
GPS1°18'07.8"N 103°51'49.9"E | 1.302167, 103.863867
Tel: 6298 5891
Hours: 11:00am - 10:00pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 2 Aug 2018

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't. All comments with genuine identities are published.