Believe it or not, when I saw the name on Food Panda, I thought “Hai Kee” in “Haikee Brothers” meant “Beach”. Come on, don’t you agree that Beach Brothers sounded catchy?
Yo! Beach Bros!
The first thing that caught our eyes was the price – we knew the outlet was a full-scale restaurant in Chinatown Point, but the price was food court level. With the low price, our appetite for risk increased, because we won’t be so heartbroken should the food turned out meh-ish.
Turned out we were right. My Laksa Fried Rice was literally Dried Laksa except the noodle was swapped with rice (and because it was fried rice, there was the added wok hey); Fried Black Carrot Cake was bouncy, covered with a layer of fried shrimps (that was super fragrant), though it was a tad too salty.
Therefore, when I walked past the store about 2 weeks later, I thought I should drop in to taste the food in its freshest, hottest state.
Hai Kee Brothers is an old name and like most old brands, they also undertook a rebranding effort which was apparent in the décor of this outlet: soft pastel-beige chairs, svelt tables, open kitchen – all proclaiming they are going for a fusion style.
Their menu also tried to match that. The staples like Soy Sauce Chicken (with options for noodles, hor fun, rice or on its own) were there, so were dim sum, roasted meat and Yong Tau Foo. They also did some twist, like Laksa Fried Rice, Soy Sauce Chicken Ramen and Black Glutinous Rice Porridge with Ice Cream.
Since I had Laksa Fried Rice the last time around, I ordered something else. (I was glad I did, cos I saw the portion delivered to an ang moh next table and the portion was for birds, which was unlike my takeout version, which could feed a family).
My order for the day was Soy Sauce Chicken Noodles (the noodles being Mee Kia a.k.a the skinny, rubber band noodles) and Prawn Balls (Heh Zor, which is something like minced prawn mixed with tonnes of unknown (but yummy) spices and fried into a ball).
I was rather upset that they served chilli with my noodles, when I only said yes to green chilli – the Sambal Chilli could seep into the gravy and “contaminate” the taste in general – which it did – so I could not enjoy the noodles in its original taste.
That aside, the noodles retained its rubber band texture, both in chew-ability and hard-to-bite-off standard. That was said in a good way, cos like I mentioned in my other post on Soy Sauce Chicken Noodles, the noodles should be that springy.
I particularly liked the chicken. You know how the sesame oil flavour tend to be on the surface / skin of the chicken for most soy sauce chicken? Haikee made sure that umami perforated every strand of chicken meat served on the plate, like a tiramisu that soaked up the alcohol right from bottom to the top.
And you know how, for the boneless chicken, even though it was already cut into pieces, they were usually too big for a single bite and requires one to chew half of them off? While you are trying to chew off that infinity noodles and afraid that by the time that half piece of chicken finally settles inside your mouth, the noodles would have been gone?
The chef somehow managed to cut the chicken such that when I picked up a piece, it automatically dislodges from the bottom half (and it still looked uncut). So it looked presentable, but still easy on the mouth.
N.B: If you can’t understand this concept of eating a cut meat that looks uncut, I recommend you go try it yourself in Chinatown.
The Prawn Balls were nothing short of amazing. Unlike Ngor Hiang or Popiah where the skin would be fried to a crisp, there was no “skin” on the Heh Zor, so the frying was all done on the outer surface of the ball – that made it more difficult to get the balance right – to have the balls crispy on the outside without drying out the inside.
You know what was amazing? My first thoughts when biting into the ball was, “that was full” (like fully packed full), but when I stopped to evaluate the texture, my verdict was, “it was fluffy”. I think for a meat ball to be made with such a balance of polarising quality, the chef must have been very skilled in managing the cooking process (火候, or temperament of the fire)!
Heh Zor is usually served with sweet sauce as an accompaniment (somehow the creators weren’t confident the fried balls won’t be addictive enough and wanted to top up the eating experience). Here, I would say the balls are good enough on their own.
Another dish we tried was its Lor Mee with Soy Sauce (Braised Flat Noodles with Soy Sauce). Basically, it was Lor Mee, but with its signature soy sauce. On top of the usual noodles and bean sprouts, one gets a slab (but cut into pieces) of roast pork (shio bak) and breaded fish fillet. Add on $1 for one Heh Zor.
The noodles was a bit underwhelming, which lacked the strong braised taste of the usual Lor Mee. That, despite us mixing the garlic and added 2 saucers of vinegar. Guess soy sauce just can’t fight with the authentic and memory-hooking Lor Mee gravy.
I liked their XO Fried Carrot Cake so much that I ordered it again when I returned to Haikee Brothers subsequently. It was cooked Hong Kong style, with the carrot cakes cut into huge cubes, pan fried to be crispy on the outside, then stir fried with black XO sauce. They topped the dish off with a spoon of fried spiced shrimps.
The fried shrimps were a tad too salty, but it made the whole experience more shiok! Their carrot cake were a bit different from those we find at Hong Kong cafes like Streats, because the skin weren’t too crispy and the overall density of the cake made it very chewy and sticky.
The whole serving is best shared, as the saltiness, even though exciting to the senses, do get too overwhelming after a while.
For their Onion Omelette, I found it to be the most disappointing dish I ever had in the store. They failed to caramelise the onions before mixing it with the eggs. That not only meant the onions tasted raw a la Western omelette style, the fragrance of stir-fried onions therefore was not mixed in with the eggs, thereby rendering the rest of the omelette bland. It really didn’t matter that they managed to make the omelette so thin that the resulting surface was bigger than my fat face stuffed with Carrot Cake!
We also bought the Yong Tau Foo, where the flavour of the soup was so deep, you could drown in bliss. With that final breath in me, I deduced that the soup was made from scratch, not from stock. What jerked me back from the edge of blissful death was the stuffed chilli. Bleah for me, but I know there are Singaporeans who judge food by their spiciness, so yup…
Haikee’s older outlets are all in the East Coast/Katong area which are damn difficult to reach if you don’t drive (like me). Most likely you’ll be eating your own sweat when the food finally gets to your table, so people like me will definitely appreciate having an outlet located in such a convenient location – at level 2 of Chinatown Point (the part of the building where Singapore Pools is).
Food wise, I can’t compare it to the “old outlets”, partly because I have never tried the “old” versions. They’re definitely better than the just-wanna-make-a-living stalls found in food court, except the food is served in a restaurant, but priced at food court level.
I wouldn’t mind dropping by whenever I run out of dining ideas or when I just want a sure-comforting food at an affordable price.
By the way, if you’re not Chinese-savvy and are wondering what “Hai Kee” means, they literally mean “Sea Brand”, “Hai” means “Sea” and “Kee” means “Brand” (as in Old Chang Kee’s “Kee”).
Subscribe to my blog for my update next week on airline lounges in Hong Kong International Airport. Till then, Happy New Year!
133 New Bridge Rd
Singapore 059413 (inside Chinatown Point, Level 2)
+65 6244 4408