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We love Wee Nam Kee |

Food and Leisure

We love Wee Nam Kee

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes -

The long wait is finally over.

Foodies need not travel to the Lion City to have their fill of the much-talked about Singaporean chicken rice as Wee Nam Kee opens at the newest happening place in the metro — the Ayala Triangle Gardens. This is the original Wee Nam Kee franchise from Novena Ville, Singapore whose chicken rice is something former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and a lot of our kababayans can’t get enough of.

A loyal fan of Wee Nam Kee, Erap would have the chicken rice delivered to his hotel suite whenever he was in Singapore. And from what I’ve heard during the opening, tycoon Lucio Tan is also enamored of the Singaporean staple that he even had a chef from his hotel apprentice with the best establishments in Hong Kong just to get the best recipe for the dish.

So imagine the excitement of food-loving Pinoys when word leaked out (on Twitter and Facebook) that Wee Nam Kee would soon open here in the country. It was definitely the talk of town for months, which was enough to whet my appetite even more. I haven’t dined at Wee Nam Kee on Novena Ville, Singapore so I looked forward to my one-day trip recently to the Lion City. Sadly, I didn’t have spare time to savor the famed dish so I just contented myself with a serving of chicken rice at the food court of Changi Airport. The stall was manned by an old man, who simply couldn’t keep up with the influx of travelers hankering for comfort food, Singaporean style. I had to stand in line for 15 minutes to be served, but the wait was worth it! His chicken rice is tender and flavorful, and a steal for only S$4. While I was so satisfied with my meal, I just couldn’t take my mind off Wee Nam Kee’s chicken rice, which is touted to be the best in Singapore. I had no idea I would soon find out the difference here on our shores.

Cereal killer: The cereal prawns is another best-seller at Wee Nam Kee.

Not the same, lah!

So how do I love Wee? Let me count the ways.

Wee Nam Kee’s chicken rice is steamed or roasted fresh daily. What gives the dish its special allure is the bowl of rice, which is cooked in a specially prepared chicken stock. The flavor of the chicken is absorbed into each grain which makes it moist and simply delectable.

The chicken skin doesn’t fall off the meat and has no gel-like substance underneath — unlike the one I had at Changi Airport. It’s pretty hard to achieve this texture, I was told, but this is one of way of determining if the chicken is fresh and well-cooked. It’s served with generous dips of hoisin sauce, crushed ginger and chili paste, which enhance the natural flavor of the chicken. It was definitely love at first bite.

Chicken Confidential

With the popularity of the Hainanese chicken rice among Pinoys, a lot of Filipino restaurateurs have expressed their desire to bring Wee Nam Kee here in Manila but to no avail. In fact, it took young entrepreneur Linfred Yap and his partner Weiser Co more than three years to get the elusive franchise.

In 2005, Linfred left for Singapore to work for a multi-national company. Throughout his stay in the Lion City, Wee Nam Kee was something he would crave for during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

“Wee Nam Kee’s chicken rice was one of the very first meals I had over there and it instantly made an impression. I knew that Filipinos would feel the same way, too, if only they had the chance to try it,” shares Linfred.

Some like it roasted: The roast chicken rice variant

Linfred so loved the dish that when he came back to Manila, he still craved for Wee Nam Kee. “I knew that I definitely had to bring the franchise in,” he says.

Linfred met with the owner Wee Liang Lian in 2006 and expressed his desire to acquire Wee Nam Kee’s franchise.

“It was only in 2009 (when I was already back in Manila) when he confirmed that he was ready to go back on the negotiating table,” relates Linfred. “We’re very fortunate to finally get the franchise. I think for the Wee family behind Wee Nam Kee, it was never about money. They’ve done so well for themselves with just two branches in Singapore that branching out abroad was never part of their plans.”

“I think the reason why the family gave us the franchise is because they felt they could trust us with the brand they’ve nurtured for more than two decades. They felt that we would take as much care of it as they have,” Linfred adds.

Wee Nam Kee managing director Wee Toon Ouut, operations manager Wee Ling Lian, and franchise owners Linfred Yap and Weiser Co during the opening of Wee Nam Kee at Ayala Triangle Gar-dens

Located at the corner of Makati Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas in Makati City, Wee Nam Kee offers the renowned chicken rice in three flavors: roasted, steamed or soy. Another must-try item is the all-time favorite cereal prawns.

 Wee Nam Kee brings to the country its seasoned chefs from Singapore to ensure the quality and taste of its signature dishes.

Touted by the Singapore Tourism Board as one of the top restaurants that serve the best Singapore chicken rice, Wee Nam Kee’s flavorful chicken doesn’t disappoint and leaves the palate truly satisfied.

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For inquiries, visit Wee Nam Kee’s Facebook fan page at, or follow them on Twitter @WeeNamKeePH.

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