Chicken Rice is about 3 things:
- The chicken
- The rice
- The condiments2
The good Chicken Rice places offer you 2 varieties of the chicken — boiled or roasted. The meat should be cooked through, tender, and juicy. Depending on which type of chicken, the skin must be firm and have a little crisp3 to it. You want it to be busting with chicken flavor.
Wee Nam Kee’s chickens check all of these boxes, although I think that the roasted chicken’s skin is a bit try. I usually just go for their boiled chicken4. It must be served with a light soy and cucumbers. The Personal Set, which comes with a quarter chicken, soup, and the Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice, is very reasonably priced.
If you’re dining with a few more people, consider the other sets, but you will have to order the Wee Name Kee Chicken Rice by the cup. For the quality, it’s a fucking steal.
The rice part is so often overlooked, probably because Asians are used to eating rice and white-ish rice just doesn’t look appealing. A lot of work goes into this simple component. They fry the rice grains with garlic, onions, ginger, and some other stuff before cooking the rice with the chicken stock from the bird that you’re eating. Wee Nam Kee’s version is flavorful without overpowering the chicken flavor unlike some other places *koff*bananaleaf*koff*, who overpower the rice with garlic or ginger when (again) it should be about the chicken.
And if the rice feels ignored like the middle child, the condiments must feel like bastards5. These give the chicken and the rice the oomph that takes the dish to a different level. There’s no wonder why the oyster sauce, the chili, and the ginger sauce feel like bastards. Fast food joints tend to bastardize them by using cheap alternatives. I feel strongly about this because there’s a distinct difference when done right. How is Wee Nam Kee different then? You can clearly see that the chili and the ginger sauces are finely chopped and diced. Details fucking matter. You will taste a hint of acid (either from lemon or orange juice) in the chili sauce, which is how the great places in Singapore do it.
In Singapore, Wee Nam Kee is considered to be one of the top Chicken Rice shops. KF Seetoh of Makansutra brought the Top Chef finale contestants to Wee Nam Kee and they supposedly went back there every day for the duration of their stay. They also serve other mean cze cha dishes but they might have changes the dishes when they opened in Manila.
First, just ignore the Honey Crispy Squid. It was dry and overcooked more than crispy.
Second, some Iced Lemon Tea to wash stuff down. I honestly could not recall how this tasted.
But do get the Stir-fried Clams in Spicy Sauce. This is genius. I mentioned that the national dish of Singapore is Chili Crab. If you don’t want/can’t spend that much on crab, get this dish. If you’re a snob and do not want to get your hands on saucy crabs, get this dish.
If you’re a slut and don’t want crabs… Well, you get the idea.
It’s clams with the Chili Crab sauce. It’s not the best, mind you. The sauce isn’t as good as the ones I’ve tried in Singapore, but it’s not bad. It’s flavorful, packs a punch, but could use a bit more heat. You do have to order the Fried Mantou separately, but it’s a no brainer that you have to do so. Just an awesome alternative to Singapore’s national dish.
The Warm Roti with Milk Tea Sauce was probably the only interesting dessert. Wasn’t bad, but there’s a reason why Wee Nam Kee is known for their Chicken Rice and not their desserts.
Hands down, best Singaporean joint we have in Manila by far. The Chicken Rice is the one I prefer the most and very reasonably priced, especially if you consider the work they put into it. And my god, the Chili Clams!