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FOOD REVIEW: Wee "NomNomNom" Kee
SPOT.ph’s food reviewer gives his thumbs up to Wee Nam Kee’s simple but flavorful food.
By: JJ Yulo  |   Published on: Nov 22, 2010 - 9:34am
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Wee Nam Kee
Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City
Tel. No. 846-8924
Open from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily

For many, Singapore is synonymous with chicken rice. Everyone there eats it, and it’s truly delicious in its simplicity.

I lost my Singaporean chicken rice virginity to Wee Nam Kee, through my friend Harvey in Singapore. He took me there even if it was a bit out of the way for him simply because it was his absolute favorite, and upon shoving their food into my mouth, I could see why: their food was fresh, full of flavor, and obviously sourced with the best ingredients they could find, plus, it was very reasonably priced. Since it was also located right across a Catholic church, you can bet that a gajillion kababayans have probably stuffed themselves there as well—even former presidents!

Now, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or you couldn’t really care less about food, I surmise that you’ve probably heard that a franchised outlet of Wee Nam Kee has opened alongside some other restaurants in Ayala Triangle. How this happened, I’m not quite sure: WNK in Singapore is a humble (yet justifiably famous) open-air establishment, the last kind of food outlet that you would expect to expand out of Singapore. But it took the persistence of one lone Pinoy customer who ate there all the time to drag them out here to feed us (Take a bow, Linfred!).

Since they opened, I had been waiting to try it out, except that I knew the hungry hordes would be lined up outside, so I chose to wait til it got a little quieter—until I got a call from my friend to join him for lunch there with the owner. Well, gee, why say no to that? So off I went with C, only to find that it was WNK’s media launch. Good thing we went early. In no time at all there was a sea of people rushing in. And, as it turned out, my friend wasn’t going to show up and neither was I going to sit with the owner. But hey, at least it was a chance to try their food (and yes, for free, at that!)

 

Chicken Rice at Wee Nam Kee. Click for more photos.

But before that, a word about chicken rice: for those of you who haven’t had it, it’s basically boiled or steamed chicken, sometimes served with a bowl of broth (the same one used to cook the chook in), and always with some chicken rice (made with chicken broth and chicken fat as well,  which is why it isn’t as virtuous as it sounds!), and a trio of all important sauces: ginger, chili, and kecap manis, a thick, slightly sweet soy sauce. Preparing this is not as simple as dumping some chicken in boiling water--there are techniques to achieving a juicy, perfectly cooked version, and that’s just pertaining to the meat. Of equal importance is the rice and the ginger and chili sauce. The most important thing of them all is that you get the best possible ingredients you can find. Mix and match your sauces to your liking, and devour accordingly. You can see why this dish works—simple flavors are always satisfying.

Now I’ve spoken to some Singaporean chefs about this, and asked what the secret is to preparing this deliciously deceiving Plain Jane dish is, and a lot of them claim that their source for chickens should be impeccable—our Filipino chickens are supposedly not good enough, and that only their Singapore sourced fowl will do.

I am happy to say that the Manila branch of WNK has debunked that theory, as their chickens are all sourced locally from farmers (not huge companies) who dress the chickens themselves. The son of the owner of the original WNK, who also doubles as Manila’s manager for now, is proud to explain that actually everything they serve is sourced locally—this piece of information alone already garnered my respect. Rather cool of them, as they could very well fly everything in if they wanted to, but they know if they work hard to maintain quality, and source everything locally, they can keep their costs down—keeping us ravenous Pinoys happily within our budgets!

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9 Comments
  • plummm
    I was so excited to eat in WNK because we just came from SG a week after it opened in Ayala Triangle and the taste of Hainanese Chicken was still there in my taste buds. rnrnMy friend and I went there at 5:30 p.m. on a weekday so we were still able to get a table. We ordered their steamed and roasted chicken. I immediately compared it with the ones that I've tried in SG's Maxwell Foodcourt (it's not even the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken ha) and I found WNK Manila's version to be slightly inferior in terms of taste. Does this mean they have less MSG?rnrnOverall, it's still not the same as the Hainanese Chicken in SG hawker centers but if you can't afford to go there, pwede na rin siguro sa WNK.rnrnBut if the place is packed and you have to wait for a long time just to dine in, it's better to just go to another resto in the area na lang because it's not worth the long wait.
    Dec 19 2010 @ 08:27am     Reply  
  • the man
    People who cant afford Tao yuens prices this place is a nice alternative, but imo tao yuen parin the best chicken rice in ph, problem you have no choice but to order 1/2 chicken palagi:) rnAlso I find singaporean cooking lacking compared to cantonese cooking, iba parin mga hk chefs:)
    Dec 17 2010 @ 12:32am     Reply  
  • gee
    i think it's overrated. i had lunch there this afternoon for the first time. the soup came at the end of the meal and they only served it when we asked for it a couple of times. the small bowl where they served the chicken rice is chipped. we tried ordering chicken noodle soup and it was out of stock. and so was dessert as in walang dessert daw, i wonder why it was in the menu but maybe dahil soft opening pa lang sila. But the personal set is reasonable when it comes to price.
    Dec 16 2010 @ 11:50pm     Reply  
  • wee nam kee ph
    Thanks for all your feedback! Trust that we are working to improve service. Being the first foreign franchise for Wee Nam Kee, there are certain operational kinks that need to be addressed but we are working 24/7 to provide customers with a better dining experience.rnrnAs for the concern on locally vs. imported ingredients, 90% of our goods are sourced locally. There are, however, some key ingredients that are unavailable in the Philippines and thus have to be brought in especially from Singapore. Hope this clarifies :)
    Dec 02 2010 @ 09:23pm     Reply  
  • maya
    Curious that you quote their manager as saying all ingredients are sourced locally; whereas on their Facebook page, they respond to a fan's comment about a lot of menu items being out of stock when they visited (before the lunch rush) with this: "Thanks guys for your feedback! Some of the seafood items are still out of stock but we should be able to have them all by next week as some key ingredients are still to be imported from Singapore."
    Nov 25 2010 @ 10:56am     Reply  
  • chicken lover
    we had a bad experience with Wee Nam Kee earlier... we purposely went past normal lunch hours because we know it gets crowded. Upon getting our seats, we proceeded to order.. out of stock yung soup... pati hot tea...then 10 minutes after we gave our order, bumalik ibang waiter and said out of stock yung roasted chicken.. so sabi namen cancel na lang... since we ordered 2 other viands naman... my hubby then ordered extra rice and requested for water.. after around 15 minutes.. wala pa din so we followed it up sa ibang waiter.. hala.. another 10 minutes pass wala pa din.. ang dami nilang waiters tapos di naman na crowded ang place but they were kinda loafing around the cashier area.. nakakainis na.. we decided to just ask for our bill... to add insult to injury.. di pa nacancel yung unavailable na order namin at nakalagay pa din sa bill.. I understand na soft opening sila but they were not even apologetic about their lapses after I pointed them out. My hubby was realy disappointed and said we wont be going back there na...
    Nov 24 2010 @ 08:49pm     Reply  
  • christine
    The only thing they served quickly was the hainanese chicken rice. Everything else took AN HOUR! The cereal chicken was just ok, I found the cereal too powdery, and the honey squid very makunat. Sayang.
    Nov 24 2010 @ 10:44am     Reply  
  • princee_t
    Ate there last Sunday, Service was TERRIBLE and food quality was not that good. I don't think I will be going back anytime soon. rnrnrnThe chicken and cereal prawn of Tao Yuan is so much better.
    Nov 22 2010 @ 09:28pm     Reply  
  • candy f
    Waaaaah everytime we go there punong puno! Hopefully today is the day when we can try this. Leaving the office RIGHT NOW!
    Nov 22 2010 @ 10:58am     Reply  
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