Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant has been around since the 1950s and my parents used to frequent this place on their dates. For a trip down memory lane, my dad suggested having a family dinner on a Saturday here.
There are many different types of steamboat in Singapore. We have the buffet style steamboats, with a concentration of them located around Liang Seah Street (behind Bugis Junction) that serves unlimited seafood and meat for a fixed price. We also have the non-buffet style and pricey ones like Hai Di Lao, Imperial Treasures and Crystal Jade (which also has buffet as well). Then there’s the Teochew Style fish head steamboat together with Thai Mookata, Japanese Shabu and the list goes on. Thien Kee is none of the above – it’s a traditional Hainanese steamboat restaurant that serves Hainanese Chicken Rice with steamboat and the famous Hainanese Pork Chop. I have been to Yet Con a few times but never been to Thien Kee as I have heard that the queues are really long even on weekdays.
Afraid of waiting with kids, we went really early at 5:45pm and got a table immediately. We were so relieved because right after we ordered, the crowd built up. There were about 30 over staff in the restaurant, mostly conversing in Hainanese (which is about the only dialect I don’t comprehend). Our food was served promptly with an efficient and experienced service crew.
The Hainanese chicken is highly regarded in Singapore, so much that it’s world famous like Tian Tian that I have featured before. Thien Kee’s chicken is not overly oily, just firm and fragrant. The chilli is however not as spicy nor flavourful like Tian Tian’s chilli, just average. The most impressive was the chicken rice – each grain of rice seemed to be infused with chicken oil and fragrance, making it enjoyable to have it on its own. It was so good that the kids asked for second helping of rice.
The platter had sliced fish, lean pork meat, pork liver, shelled prawns, fishballs, fish maw, sea cucumber and cockles. They were fresh but a little overpriced in my opinion just like Yet Con.
The key reason why I am not a fan of Hainanese style steamboat is the bland broth. It did start to taste decent after cooking the two plates of meat and seafood but still too plain for my tastebuds.
The star of the meal is definitely the pork chop. This is a must-have, crispy thick pork slices with generous tomato-vegetable sauce. Better than Yet Con’s for sure.
We also had the pork satay as the kids love satay. I didn’t manage to capture a picture of it but it was pretty mediocre. The meal cost about $130 for 5 adults and 2 young kids.
I would return to Thien Kee for the chicken rice and probably skip the steamboat. It’s the sort of place that you hope will never disappear and you can bring your grand kids here one day to tell them the history. Thien Kee is open 11am till 10pm daily. Do be prepared to wait if you are there at peak timings and they do not take reservations for weekends (I tried =P).
Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant
6001 Beach Road
B1-20 Golden Mile Tower