KEK Pandan Gardens: Modern Zi-Char with some of the usual suspects

Keng Eng Kee's modern rendition opened up in a make-shift box-like fixture at Pandan Gardens, just a stone's throw away from my maiden church Pandan Calvary Bible Presbyterian. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the tze-char institution had found residence near a spot I've been trying so hard to avoid for the last 5 years of my life (Yes, I admit to being a backsliding Christian; but the orthodox and rigid practises of the church just rubs me in the wrong way). So, contrarily, with little resistance, I packed my bags in search for enlightenment to the establishment coined as serving up 'modern zi-char'

While most of the dishes at the Pandan Gardens are new, owner Wayne has decided to keep some of the signatures like the Moonlight Hor Fun ($6) and Chilli Crab and Coffee Pork Ribs ($10) as mainstays in the menu since regulars know that a trip down to KEK wouldn't be complete without sampling these dishes. Nonetheless, the restless will find delight in perusing the menu which showcases a whole bunch of Mod-C dishes ranging from tapas servings of Salted Egg Potato Fries and Prawn Paste Chicken spaghetti more suited for a lone ranger.

The Moonlight Hor Fun ($6) validates your sole reason to visit the new joint. Crowned with a raw egg which to my dismay suffered a cruel fate before greeting the table. Though the wok hei is slightly poorer in this version as compared to the Alexandra outlet and the ingredients seemingly less abundant; there was none heard but sighs of approval around they table as my crew dug in.

Always hits the spot.

Are you a secretly a fan of salted egg dishes despite the over-use and abuse in recent local culinary escapades? Well, KEK's Salted Egg Yolk Crab Spaghetti ($15) will be right up your alley. Pasta imbued with a bit of smoke from the wok hei and its strands coated evenly in 'made-from-scratch' salted yolk sauce. The winning factor, the two huge slabs of large soft shell crabs deep fried till golden brown and crispy brown, squirting out hot juices when bit into.

Despite the controversial Mod-C dish getting a bunch of mixed reviews, my opinions remains on the positive side seeing its somewhat seamless melding of two cultures in one reasonably priced dish.

There's also the Salted Egg Squid ($12); perfectly cooked morsels with not so much of a chew and engraved in liquid gold crusty batter. However, I would strongly recommend the salted egg yolk prawns (deshelled) instead, the beguiling pool of thickened chalky sauce gathered at its feet - perfect for tainting that insanely pure white steamed mantou in.

Other dishes worth ordering include the signature Coffee Pork Ribs ($10) - yummy kopiko slicked crust pork ribs with a healthy swaddle of fat tucked between succulent flesh and the Hot Plate Beancurd ($10) - propped up with tons of jewelled treasures such a crystal clear sauteed prawns and swaying bonito flakes for theatrical effect.

Despite my cowardly foray into the world of Mod-C zi-char; KEK maintains a healthy performance rate with its more traditional dishes and that warrants many repeated visits for slight pushes towards exploring the rest of the innovative menu.

KEK Pandan Gardens
Keng Eng Kee Seafood
200 Pandan Gardens
t: 6694 3044

Operating Hours: 
Daily: 11 30am - 2 30pm; 5pm - 10pm

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