Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant
Address: 43 Jalan Besar
Operating Hours: 5.00pm to 3.00am (closed on first Wednesday of the month)
Johor Bahru has this third storey bee hoon (三楼米粉) that is unique to Malaysia food culture. One side of the bee hoon is intentionally fried till crisp while the underneath of the bee hoon remains moist. While Singapore does not has exactly the same dish to offer, we have a few variations of it. One of them is the crispy chao ta bee hoon at Jalan Besar. Chao ta literally means burnt in hokkien (one of the dialects in Singapore).
Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant is situated in an old school coffee shop along Jalan Besar, diagonally opposite Sim Lim Tower. It is not exactly a restaurant but a Cze Char stall. They offer various signature dishes like Pig Trotter, Egg Yolk Crab, 上汤苋菜 (Chinese Spinach served in soup stock), steamed salted chicken and of course the Crispy Bee Hoon.
Cripsy Bee Hoon
Unlike Johor’s version, the charred side is pan fried till really crispy, to the extend of the texture of eating crackers. This also means that it will be slightly dryer. However, the other side of the bee hoon remains moist. The ingredient used is similar to our seafood Hor Fun that includes Prawn, Squid, Fish Cake and slices of Meat. Fried crispy pork lard and bean sprout are scattered onto the Bee Hoon to complete the dish.
I personally think that every Cze Char stall should have a unique signature dish and it’s this Bee Hoon for Yong Kee. This dish didn’t disappoint with it’s flavorful stock infused Bee Hoon. The texture is something new and refreshing. I would enjoyed the Bee Hoon even more if the pricing can be more affordable. A small size cost $6 while a medium and large cost $12 and $18 dollars.
Chinese Spinach serve in Soup Stock
Typically, this dish is served in restaurant. It’s served in a big bowl with the Chinese Spinach soaked in soup. Yong Kee’s version is served in small pot over a small flame. Fried Ikan Billis (anchovies) are scattered generously over the vegetable.
The soup taste abit like chicken/ikan billis soup stock cubes. But of course, such cubes are actually widely used in hawker food so I think I will give it to them, because I like the soup. The soup is more flavorful than the usual one in restaurants. Vegetable is soft enough and yet remain crunchy. It cost $10 and is good enough to be shared by two.
Steamed Salted Chicken
From the name Salted Chicken, I was expecting something like Salt Baked Chicken but apparently the taste is totally different from what I imagined it to be. In fact the chicken is not at all salty and taste more of chinese herb with a tinge of Danggui (当归).
There is also a layer of jelly-like stuff, which i assume is a layer of starch because it is rather tasteless which the taste only comes from the sauce that it absorbs. I don’t particularly enjoy this dish.
Yong Kee does not offer the comfort that seafood restaurant can offer. The construction work for the new MRT line around this area made the coffee shop looked really run down and unappealing. I took a short walk from Bugis MRT to OG Bugis, cut across Sim Lim Square, then to Sim Lim Tower to reach this place, but i think it’s worth the walk. Maybe not for the steamed salted chicken, but for their Bee Hoon.
This Cze Char stall opens up to 3am in the morning so if you are feeling hungry at Jalan Besar, this stall may just be fix for you. You also can read up on Swee Choon Dim Sum at Jalan Besar that opens up to 6am in the morning.