Por Kee Eating House 1996

Who’d have thought eating in a carpark could be such a charming experience? Us, for one. We’re longstanding fans of this classic tze char place; and it’s a reminder that it’s not just the new stuff—40 Hands, Books Actually—that makes Tiong Bahru worth visiting.

There are old school gems aplenty here, too (although this one’s only been here a comparatively juvenile 15 years). In fact, it’s not even the only great dining destination in the one carpark—De Classic Golden Spoon, 10 parking bays away, is perhaps even better known.

We’re by no means the only ones to have cottoned on to Por Kee though; the place gets packed from 6:30 onward, despite having some dozen tables indoors and room for a 100 or more out back (don’t even get us started on how busy nearby Le Le Pot gets).

Like the other restaurants in the vicinity this is no-frills dining, with lackadaisical, sometimes brusque service. The food though is outstanding.

The sweet and sour pork ($12, small portion) is among the very best in town (a confession: We’ve been known to come here just to take a doggybag home with us), the Champagne pork ribs ($14) fully merit their city-wide reputation, and the broccoli and garlic ($10) could convert even the most determined of carnivores.

New favorites from our most recent visit include the tender and flavorful homemade beancurd with mushrooms and long beans ($15), and some incredibly moreish butter prawns ($30, medium portion). Not everything is perfect—the scallops and asparagus coated in a thickened cornstarch sauce ($26) lacked any real flavor; the frog fried with ginger ($20) was only so-so; and the sambal kang kong ($9) was the only plate we didn’t finish.

But we’re nitpicking, because, as much as anything else, it’s the atmosphere we keep coming back for: Lively until well into the night, and with a nice breeze blowing through that carpark.

Hell, even if you have to walk here, it’s worth the effort.

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