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Dining With Some Din: Chew Kee Eating House

This picture is of the glass panel in front of the kitchen/soya sauce chicken chopping station.

This weird picture is of the glass panel in front of the kitchen/soya sauce chicken chopping station.

Just off the corner of Upper Cross Street and South Bridge Road there’s a shop called Chew Kee Eating House. For as long as I can remember, it’s been serving Soya Sauce Chicken Noodles.

The ‘Eating House’ is uncomfortably warm at lunch time, dimly lit, and really noisy. And it struck me then, that that’s why I like it:

There are better iterations of Soya Sauce Chicken Noodles around Singapore, but this place reminds me of Chinatown before Chinatownification, of when the Hokkien-speaking called the area Gu Chia Zhui. There’s another shop on South Bridge Road that’s been around since I was child, but that one’s been air-conditioned and iPadded (i.e. some POS vendor sold them an menu and ordering system using PIC grants).

Chew Kee Eating House has stayed the same in terms of the food they serve, the place it’s served in, and the staff who serve. The only thing different is the price. (I paid $6 for lunch on Monday – a Soya Sauce Chicken Drumstick Noodle with a Cold Barley Water).

It is noisy, with staff – family members who own the business – shouting orders in Cantonese, scolding younger wait staff in Hokkien, and taking orders in Mandarin. There are an equal number of people waiting for a seat as there are waiting to take out.

I was ushered into the premises to share a table with an Aunty who was equally as unperturbed by the brusqueness of service and the messiness of the food slopped onto our plates a few minutes after we made our order, the efficiency of which an iPad ordering system can never replicate:

Waiter: Sek Mutt? (May I take your order please?)

Me: Gai Bei Meen (Can I have a plate of Chicken Drumstick Noodles, please?)

Waiter: Sui Gao? (Would you like a bowl of piping hot dumpling soup to accompany your meal?)

Me: Yee Mai Sui. (No thank you, but I would like to have a tall glass of your best home made Barley Water.)

Waiter: Dong? (Would you like it cold or warm?)

Me: Hai. (A cold one would be lovely, thank you).

My late mother used to ask her driver to stop on the way home from the office (illegally on the double-yellow lined Upper Cross Street), while she yelled her order to a staff member who’d be on the lookout for ‘drive-through’ orders. The order was always filled within five minutes, and Mom was only ever fined once. She did offer the traffic cop the most elaborate excuse of needing to eat urgently because she had gastric.

I was quite sure no-one ‘drove through’ any more, but I spotted one motorised customer as I was leaving after my sweaty, noisy meal.

Chew Kee Eating House from Benjamin Lee on Vimeo.



Something Is Seriously Wrong With SingPost/SpeedPost

For a few years now, we’ve experienced phantom attempted deliveries from SingPost/Speedpost – where we get a slip either under the door or in our mailbox saying that delivery of a package was attempted but unsuccessful because ‘no one was in the premises’.

Sound familiar? Been home all day and not a peep outside the door, and doorbell’s completely fine? It seems that the modus operandi of the SpeedPost/SingPost delivery person is to just leave the packages in their office/base and carry a stack of ‘attempted delivery’ slips to deliver to recipients, who have no choice but to make a trek down to the nearest StinkPost office to pick up their item.

Customers who complain are simply asked to write a formal complaint, and the ‘matter would be looked into’. It never is, and after so many years, THIS IS STILL HAPPENING!

Check out this thread on FB:

And here’s a little exchange on Twitter I had today with @SingPost:

So if you’ve any similar stories about SingPost’s phantom attempted deliveries, leave a comment here – surely strength in numbers can fix their damned service.



I Have Old Stuff From My Dad’s Office Too: Part 1

28 October 1972: Check out the hand-painted banner

Since PM Lee Hsien Loong is slowly going through his family’s treasure trove of historical artefacts, I thought I might join in with mine.

The picture above is of former Minister of Culture Mr Jek Yeun Thong giving a speech at the opening of the Oriental Development Corporation Limited (Marble And Plastic Factories) in 1972. My father is seated at the extreme left in the photo.

I was really excited as a three year old when my father told me he was helping to set up a marble factory, and was very, very disappointed to learn that it actually made ornamental marble slabs and vases and not the kind of marbles one could bring to marble battles with the other kids in the neighbourhood, with the other kids protesting, “Wah lao, liddat he sure win one lah, his father open marble factory one leh!”