The hype: Hong Kong porridge icon Mui Kee sets up shop permanently in Singapore, in its first brick-and-mortar outlet outside the motherland (the original store is a stall in a market in Mongkok). Originally a family business, the new franchise is operated by the Les Amis Group—though rest assured that the brand’s signature, soothing congee remains exactly the same, and even comes with new offerings on the menu.
The vibe: Modern and cozy, but with accents of heritage decor, the 50-seater outlet at Shaw Centre pays homage to Mui Kee’s roots in Mongkok, Hong Kong. Innovative little touches like the cashier counter being tiled with Mahjong tiles (22 sets’ worth, to be specific) update the physical space; but the non-stop bustle of servers and hungry diners retain the lively market atmosphere that Mui Kee was born in.
The food: A team of chefs trained by third-generation owner Choi Kok Tung ensure that the classic Mui Kee taste is unchanged even when Choi is back home in Hong Kong. Following heirloom family recipes, they whip up hand-prepared bowls from scratch, cooking for five hours in traditional copper pots. The proof is in the pudding—or more specifically, the creamy congee, whose flavor lies perhaps in its unique process of incorporating century eggs into the grains, then cooking with a base of pork bones and fish stock.
Consider the Sliced Beef Congee ($9.80) an entry point for those unfamiliar with Mui Kee’s style of congee—completely unlike your usual milky, grandma-approved chok; instead more watery, but never bland. Still, to say you’ve had the authentic Mui Kee experience, go for the “wok-hei” porridges, prepared in a way that teases a smoky aroma into the rice grains, so a robust fragrance envelopes the whole spoon even from your first mouthful. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and we were floored. “Wok-hei” congees include the signature Parrot Fish Belly ($11.80) and the more premium Threadfin Belly ($18)—both of which contain bones in the fish, so devour with caution.
In addition, the restaurant has expanded its dedicated congee menu to include hot sides, a selection of claypot dishes and even desserts. The Fried Fritters ($4.50) are a crunchy favorite that also come as part of Mui Kee’s lunch sets (priced at $10.80), as is the Drunken Chicken in Shaoxing Wine ($10)—icy cold chicken breast with a slight boozy punch. But if you can only pick one side, make it the Plated Steam Rice Noodles, so slippery smooth and with an impressive resistance to sogginess even after you’ve left it out for a while; the Roasted Duck & Preserved Vegetables ($5.50) is our favorite. End your meal the right way—with a shaved ice dessert unique to the Singapore branch. The Yuan Yang shaved ice ($5) is an oriental hipster’s dream, with coffee and tea ice surrounded by springy coffee and earl grey jelly; truthfully, a refreshing treat any time of the day.
The drinks: You can’t go wrong with a Hong Kong-style beverage—from the cooling Homemade Snow Chrysanthemum Red Dates Tea, to Soya Bean Milk and Hong Kong Tea or Coffee (all $2.50-3.50).
Why you’ll be back: Granted, for what it is Mui Kee’s prices can seem a little steep. But the heart behind the comfort food and the stellar taste make any trip down worthwhile; we promise you’ll find yourself itching to come back for another sumptuous bowl of the “wok-hei” congee.