por kee eating house, tiong bahru

decent food at this hidden-away sprawl of a cze char eatery in the newly-hipstered enclave that is tiong bahru. long before the fakely bespectacled, tight-trousered, coiffed hippied teenager took over the now cafe-belaboured estate of tiong bahru, places such as this one must have made the area’s reputation as gastroterritory.

cze char (or zi char or tze char) is home-style food served outside your home – and this place is truly old-school: slightly cantankerous chinese-speaking staff, blue-white plastic dinnerware, and good food unpretentiously plated. the only caveat here is that while admittedly tasty, the food is a little on the rich + oily side – and I’m not one for fatty meats or oily vegetables (but you jolly well could be!)


the restaurant enjoys fantastic business – table spills out from the main airconditioned eating house right out to the corridors of the adjoining building, and the open space next to a carpark; and every table was taken up. particularly surprising since it’s not really along the main thoroughfare, but less curious given the standard of cooking.

we had a teochew-style steamed fish served rather grandiosely on a fish pan, fresh and flaky; a glistening house-specialty of fatty champagne ribs coated in a savory brown sauce; fried signature home-made tofu with mushrooms in a rice-worthy sauce; and two plates of sauteed vegetables.

the tofu was my favourite – it was so soft and silky in the centre, almost spilling out when you cut through the fried exterior. and that sauce with it, serious wok-hei yum with rice. the champagne pork ribs I found a little less enthralling, though quite tasty – much of it was very fatty, and that glisteningness you see in the photo portends to its oiliness.

I think the flavors were good, but the cooks have a terribly heavy hand with the oil. every dish was just a bit too oily, even the vegetables, which left you with a greasy feel on the mouth – rather off-putting to me. I’m a little fastidious about this – so everything ended up getting a dip through a bowl of hot tea.

we’d return more frequently if the dishes were less oil-slippery, the meat less fatty – as it is, there are cze char places out there with a lighter hand in cooking, and similarly expert flavors. so, this place, I’m going to deem as divisive – I certainly can’t begrudge the flavors here, and the cooking style could be right up your alley.

reservations definitely needed, and it’s a good place for family. if you find eating next to the carpark (with parking cars and the sometimes whiff of exhaust) uninteresting – make sure you let them know when you call.

Por Kee Eating House
69 Seng Poh Ln
Singapore 160069
tel +65 6221 0582
$$.5: four dishes + one fish = one-twenty

15 thoughts on “por kee eating house, tiong bahru

  1. the tofu is indeed awesome but don’t u think the champagne pork ribs is a little too tough? everyone raves abt it and says it’s a must-try but I personally found it not fall-off-the-bone enough.

    • it was a tad stringy – but not too tough when we were there. the thing that was way offputting was the oiliness – I came away after biting looking like I had taken a swig from an oil bottle. it’s definitely not a must-try – that one goes to the tofu!

  2. It’s a shame about the oiliness. I wouldn’t dip in hot tea, but I do enjoy drinking down lots of hot tea which I suppose has a similar effect. Isn’t it funny what places get great business? We visited a new yum cha restaurant in the weekend. The food was ok, bill was expensive, the service was horrific yet they were packed with many people crowding at the door waiting for a table. The stars must be shining brightly on them.

    • oh there are places like that in singapore too – I think it’s that whole hypemania we’ve got in this generation. everyone’s so hooked in being at the ‘it’ place, they forget they really ought to be there for the food.

  3. Pingback: ting heng seafood restaurant, tiong bahru | andmorefood

  4. Pingback: Top Zhi Char Restaurants In Singapore - Best Zi Char Places | AspirantSG - Food, Travel, Lifestyle & Social Media

  5. hello . I wanted to make reservation for two for lunch tomorrow at 12.30pm . I called many times but no one pick up the phone . What is going on ?

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