In the wake of other well-known Hong Kong F&B concepts like Kam’s Roast and Tim Ho Wan opening in Singapore, comes Mui Kee. Brought in by restaurant group Les Amis, the popular congee store from Mong Kok will be having a 6-month long pop-up at Casa Verde, right in the heart of the Botanic Gardens.
Famed for the Cantonese-style porridge, or congee, Mui Kee was established in 1979 by the current chef-owner’s grandmother, who decided to open her own dai pai dong in Mong Kok, Hong Kong after working in other congee stalls. The Mong Kok store today is run by Ah Tung, her grandson, who spent two years training under his father and grandmother before taking over the reins at the young age of 22. Today, the stall sees large crowds of both locals and tourists lining up for delicious, comforting bowls of their congee – you know you’re doing things right if the locals flock.
Why all the fuss about a bowl of rice congee? The deceptively simple dish requires an arduous five-hour cook time for their porridge base, which begins using alkali, mashed century eggs to break down raw rice grains (similar to the way alkaline solutions are used to break down raw corn in Mexican cooking, in a process called nixtamalization). The rice is then cooked with beancurd skins before being slow-cooked with pork bones and fish for five hours, resulting in a flavour that’s moreish yet clean, and a silky-smooth homogenous texture that’s prized in Cantonese-style porridge. Depending on the order, extra ingredients are then added to the porridge base and cooked in handmade copper pots, which provides unparalleled heat distribution.
While the restaurant tried to expand with a branch at Sheung Wan in 2007, the venture didn’t last as it was hard for them to ensure the same quality offsite. The pop-up in Singapore however, will be helmed by sous chef Er Suen Liang from the Les Amis Group, who has personally trained under Ah Tung for an entire year to ensure consistency with the Hong Kong stall.
There’ll be 8 different variations at the pop-up (the original Hong Kong branch offers over 20 different kinds of congee), including Mui Kee’s signature fish belly congee ($14.50), where the porridge is topped with dace fish that’s been sauteed separately with rice wine for a distinctive wok hei. Other options include their meatball congee ($12.50), which features moist, flavourful homemade pork balls. Diners can also get side dishes like drunken chicken ($10), and kai lan ($7) to go with their comforting bowl.
The Mui Kee pop-up will start 30 June 2017, and will be open 7.30am to 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
1 Cluny Road Singapore, Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre Singapore 259569 .Tel: +65 6467 7326