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Feb 15, 2013 07:10 PM

Lee Tong Kee – Famous For Ipoh Hor Fun, But Come For The Chicken

**For full post and pics**:

Lee Tong Kee is famous for being one of the first places to bring Ipoh hor fun to Singapore from Malaysia (it moved to Singapore in 1948).

Ipoh is a predominately Chinese city in Malaysia that is known for its Chinese food. I remember when I lived in Singapore people used to always tell me that I needed to go to Penang and Ipoh for great food. Unfortunately (and stupidly) I never went as I always got sidetracked going to other cities in Asia, so I’ve still never been although I’ll make it one of these days.

Anyhow, Ipoh hor fun is flat white rice noodles (he fen 河粉) that can be served in soup or a brown gravy and can have different toppings such as seafood, beef and wontons.

Lee Tong Kee is located in Chinatown and is very close to Maxwell Road Food Centre. We actually came here after eating at Old Airport Road Food Centre and Hong Lim Food Centre (if you’ve been following my recent posts you’ll realize how gross it is that two people ate all this food in one sitting…I literally didn’t eat dinner that night and still wasn’t hungry the next morning). Anyhow, I haven’t been here before, but I’m sure they must’ve renovated recently as the restaurant looks brand new and the décor is supposed to be old school Chinese décor, which I liked and thought was a nice touch especially in Chinatown where most places are pretty sparse in decor. The service was fine and our server was nice (believe she was from mainland China).

Wanton Hor Fun:
The wontons were excellent, nice skins and good fresh shrimp filling. The vegetables on top were cooked perfectly and the noodles were also cooked nicely. The light brown sauce was light and clean tasting although it was a bit on the bland side although I always find the gravy in Ipoh hor fun to be a bit bland. Overall, I liked it, but didn’t love it as I find Ipoh hor fun as a dish is a bit bland for me. 8/10

Lee Tong Kee Tender Chicken:
This was boiled chicken, prepared very similar to how the chicken in chicken rice is prepared with oyster sauce on top. This was a total surprise, it was really good. The chicken was very tender and the skin was perfect and separately nicely from the meat. It was very flavorful and I really liked it with the oyster sauce, which gave it some extra flavor. Surprisingly, this was as good as the chicken at Tian Tian Hainan Chicken Rice, which I had eaten the day before (I love Tian Tian). If this was a free range chicken with a bit more chicken-y flavor this would be a 9.25 or 9.5 for me. I would come back just for this chicken. 9/10

Overall, I enjoyed the food and would like to come back to try more when I haven’t eaten at like 7 places beforehand!

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  1. Unfortunately, Lau, the "Ipoh" hor fun at Lee Tong Kee bore *no* resemblance to the delicate, subtly-flavored versions one gets in Ipoh itself these days. The one in Singapore has evolved to suit Singaporeans' more robust tastes.

    Pic below of how Ipoh hor fun looks like in Ipoh :-)

    3 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      yah i have no idea whether or not this is how ipoh hor fun is supposed to taste like as i've never been to ipoh although I will say the the flavor of this dish is certainly not "robust" and i would consider it to be much more "subtle" as it's a bit bland. Also, as you can see in the picture we got the dry version not the soup version in your pic.

      the chicken was great though, definitely very good

      fourseasons actually took me here, he took me to old airport road, hong lim and here

      1. re: Lau

        The dry version of Ipoh hor fun exists only in Singapore, where it's modelled after the dry version of beef noodles. Perhaps I should have said "rustic" rather than "robust" - the dish is pretty bland and lacked the flavors one find in Ipoh cookoping.

        As you can see, Hokkien tastes predominate in Singapore, whereas Ipoh is mainly Cantonese (most Ipoh-ites cannot understand Hokkien or Teochew).

        1. re: klyeoh

          ahh very interesting, well there you go ive had both versions in singapore, but didnt realize there wasn't an actual dry version in ipoh

          i know ipoh is mainly cantonese, i actually know a girl from there. And yah hokkien / teochew is not mutually intelligible, i can't really understand anything they're saying. i can understand a bit of cantonese as i am part cantonese, but unfortunately i can only really speak mandarin (or i guess fortunately since its alot more useful).

          cantonese is my favorite chinese food although hokkien and teochew are right up there too, so im pretty happy eating any of those haha.

          anyhow i really need to make it to penang and ipoh, definitely one of the top food destinations (along with vietnam and parts of japan) that i have no been to yet

    2. Hello Lau! Happy CNY to you!
      Our first divergent view point?
      I recall the first place fellow chowhounders klyeoh and fourseasons took me to, during our chowmeet in S'pore a few years back, was to try out the chicken rice at Tian Tian!! I was particularly excited because that place was just featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation - S'pore.
      Man!! Was I disappointed!!! The rice and condiments were OK but that chicken!! It was so 'colorless','mushy' and tasteless! A huge huge let down!!
      Thank God, to compensate, I had a much, much better ' free range' version at Hong Kong's TaI-Pa-yoh in Hung Hom's Whampoa Garden. Yellow firm tight skin, Tasty, chewy and full of real chicken flavour. The rice and sauces weren't too bad either! Unfortunately, they are closed now! Sigh!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        Hey Charles Yu - gong hay fat choi!

        yah ive heard that complaint before as well. however, last time i was at Tian Tian the chicken was better that in the past, not sure why, much more chicken-y and better. also i think that if you get an actual order of the chicken as opposed to just the chicken on the rice its better for some reason like they give you better pieces or something.

        you didn't like the rice? i think their rice is so good, thats the real reason i go there as you can read in my Tian Tian review. although i will say when i re-review it i am going to take down my rating on the rice b/c they took over the stall next door and opened a restaurant in geylang and i think their quality may has slipped a little, the rice was as fluffy as before and was a little more oily. when i reviewed it (this is from dec 09) the rice was literally perfect. however, the chicken got alot better (so chicken + and rice -)

        the one problem with chicken in singapore is they don't really have the free range chicken that is just much more flavorful meat, so i'd agree with you on that. i think really good chicken in hong kong that is that free range chicken the actual meat has much better flavor

        btw on a separate note, could you send me an email? I'm debating going to toronto at some point maybe this year and i specifically want to eat chinese food

        1. re: Lau

          You can find my e-mail in my profile