Thriving as a legend in the ever-changing and cut-throat F&B industry for decades is no easy endeavor, even more so in Singapore. It takes guts, perseverance and, most of all, a few star dishes to delight and entice its patrons.
Located on Amoy Street, slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the Tanjong Pagar business district, it is easy to dismiss the unassuming sans décor eatery as the otherwise famous Swee Kee if you are not a fan of fish head noodles.
Do not be deceived by the eatery’s name. Other than fish head noodles, Swee Kee does serves up a pretty mean feat of zhi char dishes that will delight your taste buds and satisfy the rumbling tummy.
The milky soup base is achieved through more than 6 hours of intense boiling of fried fish bones (no milk was added throughout the whole process). Kudos to the laborious efforts that went into it. To retain the essence of the original flavor, the broth is kept to its au naturel taste and barely seasoned.
Perhaps, that also resulted in a lack of ‘oomph’ in the broth. However, this was quickly remedied by a few dashes of Swee Kee’s imported ground Sarawak white pepper and special soy sauce. We tried the rice vermicelli and hor fun (thick flat rice noodle) version and even though they were cooked the same way, I do prefer the silky mouthfeel of the hor fun. No complain on the fresh toman (snakehead) sliced fish.
Not to mention the crispy bits of pork lard too, which made a lasting difference to the mix.
To make a good dish of classic sweet and sour pork, balance is everything.
Swee Kee’s rendition brings back the old school soul food taste, as the chef has perfected the harmonizing of this seemingly simple and common zhi char dish.
The fried pork pieces gleaming in tangy ketchup sauce is crisp on the outside and tender to the bite. This dish has the perfect union of sweetness and tartness without the harsh vinegar aftertaste, thanks to the use of organic rice vinegar.
This is a dish to order to go along with piping hot rice and is enough to whet your appetite into a frenzy.
The stir-fried Yau Mak (Romaine Lettuce) has got to be one of my favourite dishes. There’s a saying that simplicity can be harder than complexity. The chef has done good justice to the Yau Mak, with nicely executed stir-frying that has a good hint of ‘wok hei’. The amount of fermented bean curd used was just enough to coat the Yau Mak, giving it a savory fragrant taste while retaining the vegetable’s fresh crispness.
This is every kids’ favorite dish; in fact, it’s one of our family go-to order at any zhi char establishment.
Swee Kee’s take on one of the most ordered zhi char dishes deserves a special mention. The fragrance of the mountainous, piping hot crispy cereal, attacked our olfactory senses the moment it hit the table.
The de-shelled prawns buried within heaps of cereals were fresh and crispy. The margarine used to toss the cereals is well cooked to bring out the full fragrance of this drool-worthy star dish of the day. It’s so addictive that we packed the remaining cereal home for snacking.
The deep fried boneless pork ribs needs to be eaten when it is hot, and is pretty decent when paired with the sweet dark sauce as its accompanying dip. Its fermented bean marinade lent a pleasantly sweet undertone to its taste.
Most run-off-the-mill fried hor fun is stir-fried in all its glory, while tasty, I often find it lacking in moisture. Swee Kee’s version involves cracking a raw egg right in the middle of the rice noodles. After a few stirs, a velvety texture coats each strand of hor fun, and the dish stays smooth and silky even when left at room temperature.
After spending decades in the business, Swee Kee could jolly well be deemed as one of Singapore’s grand old dames of zhi char. It still holds its own, well against the vast myriad of zhi char stalls on the island. Whenever you are in the mood for good old school Cantonese zhi char, this is surely one of the places to go.
Stay tuned for my upcoming post where I take you behind the scenes at Swee Kee to uncover the kitchen secrets of their zhi char masters!
*This is a collaborated post in partnership with Swee Kee Fish Head Noodle House.
Swee Kee Fish Head Noodle House
96 Amoy Street, #02-01, Singapore 069916
Tel: +65 6224 9920| Website
Lunch : 11:45 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm – 10:45 pm (last order)