Keng Eng Kee Seafood for zi char in Tampines
If there’s one thing I’ll miss if I were to move overseas, it’s zi char. Loosely translated to “cook and fry”, zi char or tze char refers to a spread of Chinese-style, home-cooked dishes usually served to share. One notable stall that’s been doing it for three generations and counting is Keng Eng Kee Seafood, a family-run business with multiple accolades under its belt.
On top of being featured in numerous TV programmes, the third-gen zi char restaurant has also been awarded the Michelin Plate for six consecutive years since 2016. With close to 50 years of operating at its OG location in Bukit Merah, Keng Eng Kee recently opened a second branch in Tampines, giving Easties a taste of their famous zi char fare.
Keng Eng Kee Seafood Opens New Restaurant In SAFRA Tampines
Food at Keng Eng Kee Seafood
The restaurant is currently run by siblings Paul, Jia Min, and Wayne—who helms the kitchen.
We started with one of their famed dishes, the Signature Moonlight Hor Fun (from $7.80+). Available at both outlets, this staple stars a dark hor fun wok-fried with lup cheong, prawns, and sliced fish, topped with a raw egg or two depending on your portion size.
This had all the right makings of good hor fun; it was sweet, savoury, and greasy enough. The flavours were well-balanced, with the eggs coating each strand of chewy kway teow for a richer mouthfeel. We only wished for one thing: more wok hei.
The Coffee Pork Ribs (from $15.80+) overshadowed our plate of hor fun, coming in hot with its strong coffee aroma and crispy thin batter.
It’s not surprising that this dish is one of Keng Eng Kee Seafood’s signatures. Each piece of tender pork was extremely addictive, thanks to the generous coating of coffee-spiked sauce that although leaned sweet, was full-on flavour.
Another staple you’ll find at most tables in Keng Eng Kee’s original location is the Golden Pearl Roll (from $14.80+). This visually appealing snack features a shatteringly crisp crust that’s deep-fried to golden goodness, exposing an intricate centre that comprises a mix of prawn, mushrooms, tau pok and more.
It’s unique in its own right and delicious on the first bite, but we felt that there was too much going on. I’d say skip the roll if you lack the stomach space, though I’m sure it’ll be a hit with the kids since it’s fun to look at and easy to enjoy.
A personal favourite from the spread was the Claypot Premium Collagen Soup (from $24.80+), an outlet-exclusive item on the menu. This rich, tonkotsu-like broth was flavourful and packed with ingredients including fish maw and tau pok.
I’m not usually a fan of innards, but the pig stomach was delightfully chewy, without the unnecessary funk.
The creamy soup was the highlight of my meal. My photographer felt that it could use more seasoning, but I found it just right. I liked how unadulterated the flavours were, and appreciated that I didn’t feel too thirsty even after going back for seconds.
The Homemade Tofu Loofah with Sliced Fish (from $18.80+) is also another new item.
Featuring deep-fried tofu chunks accompanied by snakehead fish slices and loofah gourd, doused in a silky egg sauce, this dish was like a hug in a bowl. It wasn’t anything spectacular, though the lighter flavours here would probably cater to those who want to balance out the richness of the other dishes.
If you’re out to splurge, I’d highly recommend the Claypot KEK-style Vermicelli Crab ($88+/kg), also debuting on the Tampines menu. The showstopper came with a whole mud crab swimming in a heady, garlicky stock, drizzled with even more garlic oil right before serving.
The plump crab meat was sweet and juicy—a sign of freshness, and excellent cooking technique.
However, the star of the show was the tang hoon, which soaked up all the garlicky goodness and intense seafood flavours. Paired with a bite of the gorgeous crab claw flesh, it was a party in my mouth.
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Ambience at Keng Eng Kee Seafood
Keng Eng Kee’s new restaurant is located within SAFRA Tampines, which is an eight-minute walk from Tampines West MRT Station. It’s not the most accessible if you don’t reside in the area, but I’m pretty sure Easties would be pleased with this new addition as the eatery has been in the West for many years and counting.
Tables are aplenty at the spacious 120-seater, air-conditioned restaurant. Should you want more privacy, there are three private dining areas that can seat up to 10 people each, available for booking with a minimum spend of $300. The restaurant overlooks the pool, adding to the relaxing ambience, while floor-to-ceiling windows allow ample natural light to stream in.
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Keng Eng Kee Seafood’s latest opening is a welcomed addition to the hood—especially for Easties who are big fans of the OG eatery. While prices aren’t exactly the cheapest for a zi char eatery, the comfortable and relaxing dining experience made up for it, so I’ll gladly pay the premium. The dishes, which aren’t your typical kopitiam fare, were also consistently delicious and not overly salty.
If you’re thinking of crossing the Causeway for your zi char fix, read our guide to some of the best zi char restaurants in JB! Otherwise, another noteworthy zi char eatery worth checking out is 18 Seafood in Serangoon for champagne spare ribs and XO fried mee pok.
Address: 1A Tampines Street 92, #01-K2, SAFRA Tampines, Singapore 528882
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm
Tel: 6979 3668
Keng Eng Kee Seafood is not a halal-certified eatery.
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Photos taken by Melvin Mak.
This was a media tasting at Keng Eng Kee Seafood.
The post Keng Eng Kee Seafood Review: Famous Zi Char Restaurant With Coffee Pork Ribs And More appeared first on EatBook.sg – Local Singapore Food Guide And Review Site.