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Wee Nam Kee: A Singapore fling with hot new dishes

Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -There’s a lot more to love about Wee Nam Kee than its time-cherished Hainanese chicken. To stir anew its loyal diners’ passion for Singaporean food, Wee Nam Kee recently added a lot of new items (four appetizers, 21 main courses, and one dessert) to its ever-growing menu list.

I love bread and Wee Nam Kee’s Crispy Mantou Bread, dipped in condensed milk, brings sheer breaded bliss.

“We started serving mantou with the chili crab; traditionally, you order it with the chili crab,” says Linfred Yap, the young enterprising franchise owner of the Singaporean brand. “But a lot of kids also wanted mantou and they’d ask for condensed milk on the side, so we decided to include that in the menu.”

But don’t load up on the bread as your Singapore fling has only just begun. For starters, on top of the mantou, we order the Pork Spring Roll Bouquet (P168), which looks like breadsticks, sticking out of a tall glass with a sprinkling of flowers. You can dip the salty/savory spring rolls in Thai chili sauce.

Also on the new appetizers’ honor roll are the Prawn Rolls in Bean Curd Skin (P218) — fresh prawns mixed with onions, garlic, and wrapped in bean curd skin. The prawn rolls can serve as pulutan that’s shrimply nice to wash down with Tiger Beer, Singapore’s first locally brewed beer.

“Before, we didn’t have an appetizer section,” Linfred shares. “Now we have an assortment of appetizers.”

Flying off the menu is this hot appetizer — Prawn Paste Chicken Wings (P218, fried chicken wings in a mild prawn paste batter).  “It’s marinated overnight in Singaporean shrimp bagoong,” Linfred tells us more about his favorite appetizer.

For something truly egg-citing, try the new salted egg dishes — Salted Egg Chinese Style Fried Chicken (P295) and Salted Egg Pork Ribs (P330), both crispy fried in a yummy salted egg batter. Here, salted egg sauce, not soy sauce, is used to coat the fried chicken.

Some like it hot (and kicking) and they’ll surely love Wee Nam Kee’s new Spicy Sambal Rice Noodles (P295). Sambal, as you probably know, is a sauce made from a variety of chili peppers, but you won’t get burned and there’s no need to call the fire department because the spice is just right.

What else is new on the noodle menu? The Hainanese Chicken Curry Noodles (P225/solo, P368/sharing), the resto’s own take on the popular Singaporean laksa, that’s got Hainanese chicken and Thai noodles with curry sauce in a clear chicken broth.

The noodles come in big servings that are good for sharing. “For Filipinos, value is important, na nakasulit tayo,” Linfred stresses.

For something fishy, try the Butterflied Tilapia with Chili Crab Sauce or Citrus Tamarind Sauce (P385) — it’s a whole tilapia with your choice of the house’s sweet-and-sour citrus tamarind sauce or the sweet-and-spicy Singaporean chili crab sauce. Whatever you choose, I say they’re both sure Wee-ners.

“It’s an easy way to have your crabs without cracking open a crab,” Linfred notes. “You can polish off the sauce with mantou bread.”

Wee Nam Kee’s other fish offerings are the Tamarind Lemongrass Fish Fillet Stew (P310) and Hainanese Curry Fish Fillet (P310).

Those who go for bold and full-flavored dishes should try the new Wok Fried Chicken with Cashews & Sun Dried Chili (P270) and the Sautéed Beef Fillet with Sate Sauce (P350).

For a fruit treat with a twist, you’ll love the Prawns with Lychees and Peaches (like I did, for P495).

Those who want to rib it up will surely enjoy the new Honey Garlic Spareribs (P298).

Meanwhile, now you can make your own cuapao (open siopao) with the Stewed Pork Belly with Steamed Buns. Fill it up! I like mine with plenty of crushed peanuts. Belly good!

Wee Nam Kee has also added five new rice toppings variants, all served with the resto’s signature Hainanese Chicken Rice: Salted Egg Chinese Style Fried Chicken Rice, Honey Garlic Spareribs Rice, Stewed Pork Belly Rice, Sautéed Beef Fillet with Broccoli Rice, and Tofu Roasted Pork with Black Bean Rice. And if you want a hint of sweetness in your rice, try the new Pineapple Fried Rice with Pork Floss (P250).

Of course, perfect companions to these all-new Singaporean dishes are the new drinks: Mango Mint Smoothie, Cucumber Lime Refresher, Milo Dinosaur (a traditional Singaporean drink that makes a great pick-me-up energizer), Strawberry Passionfruit Cooler, and Green Tea Vanilla Freeze.

Finally, cap off your Singaporean fling on a sweet note. On top of its Wee-ning desserts (mango sago pudding and three-flavor chocolate truffle buchi), the resto added the Fried Milk Ala Mode  (crispy fried fresh milk bread pudding topped with a scoop of decadent chocolate ice cream or served with condensed milk or chocolate sauce).

“We’re introducing all these new dishes ahead of our fourth anniversary in November this year,” says Linfred. “We want to offer something new to our diners so there’s something to excite their taste buds anew every time they visit.”

He adds, “Except for the tilapia dish, all are genuinely Singaporean. In Singapore, there’s a sauce called assam, which is basically made of tamarind lemongrass and other spices. But if we used the word assam, people wouldn’t understand so we spelled it out for them.”

Singaporean chief chef Ah Xu heads the bustling Wee Nam Kee kitchen in the Philippines. Working with him are our own Filipino chefs who are sent for training in Singapore.

What more can I say but you’ll surely love these new Singaporean dishes, lah!

* * *

Established in 1989 in Singapore, Wee Nam Kee now has eight branches in the Philippines: Ayala Triangle Gardens, Serendra, Glorietta 2, Alabang Town Center, Promenade Greenhills, TriNoma Mall, Shangri-La East Wing, and the new Fairview Terraces Mall.

CHICKEN FRIED LINFRED NEW RICE SAUCE SINGAPOREAN WEE WEE NAM KEE
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