Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) at 8 Mosque Street, Wink Hotel, S(059488) - Dad's Lunar Birthday Celebration

Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Teochew Restaurant is one of the few standing Teochew restaurants still dutifully serving classic Teochew Cuisine using authentic traditional Teochew recipes & ingredients. The restaurant was founded in 1968 by the late Lee Chye Hock, father of the current Chef Owner Lee Huat Kee.
The nickname of Lee Chye Hock was Ah Hoi & he used to operate a stall in a coffee shop called Lee Kui located at former subordinate courts. The name Lee Kui somehow stuck with him, that was how the name Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) became an item & eventually became the name of his Teochew Restaurant. 
Today the restaurant still serve more than 70% of the original Signature dishes that late Founder Lee Chye Hock developed over the years. Some of these Signatures include : Ngor Hiang (Pork & Liver Roll), Deep-fried Prawn balls, Braised Duck, Duck stewed with chestnuts. 
It had survived 3 other traditional Teochew restaurants such as Mong Hing Teochew Restaurant at Keypoint which pull down its shutter in May 2014 & Da Seng Teochew Restaurant which also closed in 2013, as well as Ah Orh Teochew Restaurant which recently ceased operations in end May 2015. 

I felt so sad for my nephew's generation & the generations after him for it may be even more difficult in their times & their children's times to be able to savour pure authentic Teochew Cuisine here in Singapore after the older generation of Teochew Cuisine Restaurant retires & their children do not wish to continue the family business. 

Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Teochew Restaurant pride itself in serving authentic traditional classic Teochew Cuisine which includes Signatures such as:
Cold Crabs, Steamed Pomfret Teochew Style, Cold Combination Dish, Braised Goose, Braised Sea Cucumber with Mushrooms, Fish Maw & Spinach, Stewed White Cabbage with Scallops, Ngor Hiang, Yam Paste.

Displayed prominently at the entrance of the restaurant of Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) is this square panel photo display (*above) of close to 49 & another rectangle panel of 14 traditional Teochew dishes concocted, invented, developed by the late Founder Lee Chye Hock. 

Second generation Lee Huat Kee is the eldest of 3 sons & is the current Chef Owner of Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) as the late Founder Lee Chye Hock finds the eldest of his 3 sons has the talent, passion & aptitude & is therefore suitable to be his successor to carry on the family's Teochew restaurant business. 

Lee Huat Kee started his apprentice training in the kitchen at 15 years old, what started as a family duty eventually became his personal choice to be Chef to help out in the family business. 

Lee Huat Kee is 58 this year & will soon hit 60 years old in two years' time. He lamented that he could not find a willing successor among his children to take over Lee Kui (Ah Hoi). Fortunately he is able to still operate the business by hiring Teochew Chefs (**below**) who are trained & are well-versed in Teochew Cuisine.  

A Typical Weekday Dinner Crowd 
On a typical weekday evening dinner crowd, you can see at least about 50% occupancy at any time. 
A typical Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) dinner table consists of round table covered in white cotton cloth of restaurant grade, flanked by stainless steel foldable chair with red seat padding - a decor very typical of traditional older, classic Chinese restaurants.

There are approximately about 17 tables, with total seating capacity of about 170 pax, suitable for large group functions for Teochew clans, as well as Teochew weddings.

The Occasion - Dad's Lunar Birthday falls on 28 May 2015 this year.
Dad chose Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) as he knew Founder of Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Lee Chye Hock personally & had always ordered Chinese New Year Reunions dishes from Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) during CNY period for many years as early as when the Founder was alive. 

The Birthday Dinner Menu totals S$368

The Starter 
The Longevity peach-shaped buns with lotus paste filling is usually served when someone Senior in the family celebrates his/her birthday at a typical Teochew restaurant - to signify wishing the Senior a long & healthy life. 

The Longevity peach shaped buns served at Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) has a bright pink hue with a generous serving of lotus paste inside the soft fluffy bun.

The First Dish 
This is the Cold Dish Combination ($75) consisting of combination of 6 different types of finger foods such as : chicken meatballs, jellyfish with sweet sour plum sauce & ground peanuts, Ngor Hiang, prawn salad with salad cream, smoked duck, century egg gelatin, garnished with cucumber, tomato slices around the circumference, chinese parsley at the centre display. 

The Second Dish 
This is the pork meat & pork skin in gelatin a classic Teochew dish largely savoured & loved by Teochews. Notice this dish is served cold with ice atop the pork meat in gelatin. You can eat it with the chili served or with vinegar. 

The Third Dish 
This is the large Pomfret steamed Teochew style using ingredients plums, mushroom, carrots to garnish, the result is fresh succulent juicy sweet pomfret fish meat with firm texture.  The soup that accompanies the fish is laden with lots of goodness & tastes savory. 

The Fourth Dish 
This is the Braised Sea Cucumber with Large Mushrooms & Fish Maw in X.O. sauce served in a claypot. This is another classic Teochew dish well like by everyone. The sea cucumber, fish maw & mushroom are fully infused with the deliciously savory X.O. sauce, braised for hours to achieve that tender softness yet still piping warm, thanks to the claypot used to contain these rich goodness. 
The mushrooms used here are of premium quality for they do not have the sourly flavor that comes with inferior quality mushrooms. 

The Fifth Dish 
This is the Dried Large Scallop with Stewed White Cabbage.  The white cabbage are stewed like for hours till they are totally infused with the superior stock soup broth & reach a melt in your mouth consistency. The dried large scallops are stewed together with the white cabbage till they are soft flaky and infused with the soup stock, contributing largely a sweetness to the tender cabbage. It's a dish great for elderly with dentures as the cabbage simply glides through your throat. 

The Sixth Dish 
This is the half portion of Roast Chicken served with some pickled cucumber, keropok. A modest portion. The chicken meat is tender, not overly dry. I love the skin as it is crispy savory fragrant. 

The Seventh Dish 
This is Zhui Jia Bao (Teochew name) translated as crystal dumpling, a traditionally loved Teochew dessert that comes in both sweet & savory flavors : Red Bean paste (sweet) & Radish with Carrot & Turnip (savoury)
Here the Chef does the Crystal dumpling really well, I tried both the sweet & savory & I must say they both wow me over. 
The savory flavor is bigger with more filling where the radish, turnip & carrots are steamed cooked till they are soft flavorful sweet & crunchy. The red bean flavor is sweet with a smooth consistency. 

The Eighth or Last Dish 
This Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts & Pumpkin in Lard is the last dish for the evening & perhaps one of the most classic traditional Teochew dessert I grew up with. 
I remember during my younger days Dad used to order Lee Kui (Ah Hoi)'s Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts & Pumpkin for our CNY Reunion dinner. The flavor is so nostalgic. 
Here the Chef steams the yam paste, pumpkin, boils the Gingko nuts. To serve, he adds simply warmed lard to the Yam Paste, tops it with the pumpkin & Gingko nuts. The overall sweetness comes largely from the yam & pumpkin, the lard gives it a rich flavor, the gingko helps to balance out the sweetness. 

Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Restaurant is located at:
8 Mosque Street, Wink Hotel, S(059488)
Tel : 62223654 
Nearest MRT - Chinatown MRT Exit A
Opening Hours :
Monday to Sunday 11.00am to 2.30pm
                                 5.30pm to 10.00pm

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