When it comes to hawker food in Singapore, we generally tend to stay clear of franchises. Hawker food is soul food and the passion and sweat are what gives each dish that endearing hearty edge, after all.
While that is generally true, there are exceptions to the rule and Jew Kit Restaurant is one of them. While you’ve probably never heard of this storied chicken rice and zi char peddler, they actually have quite a sizeable cult following.
Having kicked off their business in 1992, Jew Kit Restaurant has already established five outlets peppered throughout our sunny island. You can find them at places including Sembawang Shopping Centre, Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, and Killiney Road.
I paid a visit to their Killiney outlet and it’s quite a charming space oozing a rustic charm that harkens back to the glorious 60s. Everything from old-school metal grill gates, vintage radios, and glamorous retro posters just add to the magical touch.
I quite enjoyed the throwback even if it might feel slightly tacky to some—we need more restaurants in Singapore that pays homage to our history methinks. And Jew Kit Restaurant’s Killiney outlet does it so tastefully.
What I tried
Hainanese chicken rice is supposedly the signature item here and the founder’s authentic Hainanese roots made the prospect of digging into their rendition of our national dish even more promising.
Being a sucker for the tender meat the drumstick boasts of, I had to get the Drum Stick with Rice (S$6.50). How did the chicken actually fare? Jew Kit Restaurant nailed the texture honestly—bouncy skin, tender flesh, and lacking any hint of stringiness that sometimes plague even the most renowned chicken rice stalls.
Sadly, I found the chicken rice itself quite lacking when in juxtaposition to the excellent chicken. Fluffy and fragrant but while it wasn’t dry per se, it lacked a touch of that slight grease and richness that I find crucial for chicken rice.
Other than that though, Jew Kit Restaurant’s combination of sauce and piquant chilli also provided a nice boost of flavour to the chicken and helped add a bit more oomph to the rice.
Despite all the heritage behind their signature chicken rice, Jew Kit’s true star here is actually their Fried Hokkien Mee (S$7) which has gotten quite a lot of rave reviews.
Perhaps not one of the best plates of Hokkien mee you can find in Singapore, what you can get here is a pretty satisfying plate with a unique flavour profile to it.
First, you’d get hit by a gratifying whiff of wok hei from the beautiful plate of noodles drowned in dark brown gravy, but that’s not all—there’s a strong depth of flavour to the overall profile too. Besides a robust stock used in frying, they actually add a splash of dark sauce to bolster the umami further.
While it’s a wetter style of Hokkien mee, Jew Kit Restaurant’s rendition is not even remotely starchy or slimy. Each strand of noodle is separated and sported a crunchy bite—especially those peculiarly thicc yellow noodles more commonly found in KL-style Hokkien mee.
So with a swig of sprightly lime and a gloriously spirited chilli, each mouth is a tantalising burst of flavour and textures. Above all, the squid’s texture was crazy tender compared to the regular chewy rubber rings you’d find elsewhere.
To cap my meal, I also ordered my go-to zi char dish of Sweet & Sour Pork (S$15). What I like about Jew Kit Restaurant’s version is that they threw in some lychee to add a delectable fruity sweetness to the sauce.
With an ample airy crunch and the piquant sauce, this was quite an enjoyable dish and I daresay just a notch below my favourite lychee sweet & sour pork from Michelin-starred Putien.
While the quirky retro decor may mislead some of us into thinking they are one of those “modern bistros” that just prey on nostalgia without any substance, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You can taste Jew Kit Restaurant’s years of history in their food. Even if it’s a franchise, I can taste the sincerity in their food and I would return for flavoursome Hokkien mee from this under-the-radar franchise. It’s not a typical place people would look but they do genuinely fry up an awesome plate of Hokkien mee.
Expected damage: S$5 – S$15 per pax
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