Makansutra: Chuan Kee Seafood still delights
Expansion has not hurt the quality of food at Chuan Kee Seafood
I am always cynical of any eatery that expands after it receives recognition.
Many are not designed or structured for the masses.
It's in my DNA to revisit some of these popular places and re-rate them.
I came across a humble-looking Chuan Kee Seafood about eight years ago when they were a tiny stall at the Tanjong Rhu hawker centre, where they churned out impressive family dinner fare and zi char favourites like chilli crabs and cereal prawns.
They have since opened two bigger outlets and expanded the menu.
Are they cashing in or doing even better?
First up is the breathtaking visual draw as you pass by this spot in the Lower Delta area on a weeknight.
The densely-packed industrial canteen (they were the only food stall operating at night) had tables spilling out onto the empty carpark spaces, with a few families still waiting for tables.
Each table had at least three of their signature dishes being demolished by diners.
I saw salted egg yolk crabs, Nonya assam fish heads, their Si Fang tofu and even a family-sized hotpot. Most importantly, the food came out reasonably fast for a tiny kitchen of about six chefs - led by Malaysian-born Jeff Low - handling over 200 people.
Ten minutes in and I was staring at the Nonya assam fish head ($24).
The light tones of torch blue ginger flower (rojak flower) rang beautifully through and the rempah delivered just enough punch - sour, spicy, not overly thick and with a hint of sweetness.
The seabass fish head was fresh and steamed well.
Then the humble garlic, pepper and salt crispy tofu cubes ($10) came a-calling.
The Four Heavenly Kings ($10) arrived, featuring okra, string beans, petai, brinjals and topped with crispy ikan bilis. Only a sad sambal and bad wok work can kill this combination. None of that happened, thankfully.
I was drawn to the next dish, Crispy Ginger Chicken ($10), just by looking at the menu. A must-order, it came crispy and coated in a sweetish ginger caramelised sauce.
Their signature Bi Fen Tang fried prawns ($22) was a usual crowd-pleaser.
The best part?
Prices are very reasonable and parking is abundant in this quiet industrial estate at night.
Chuan Kee Seafood (Tanjong Rhu)
Blk 1091A, Lower Delta Road\
Tel: 9878 9924