Hainanese chicken rice was brought to Singapore by Chinese immigrants. Eventually, the Singaporeans have adopted this dish and was aptly renamed the Singapore chicken rice. Unlike the original dish, the Singapore variety does not use pork in it’s broth, just chicken and a lot of ginger for both the sauce and soup.
The Hainanese chicken rice’s use of ginger strongly reminds me of our local Tinola. Steeped in history, the Tinola was once the a dish reserved for the well-off having been the favorite of Carlos Celdran’s favorite Rizal character, Padre Damaso. Worthy of being served among the dishes of the Philippine aristocracy, the Tinola employs almost the same elements as that of the Hainanese Chicken Rice; it has lots of ginger and chicken fat oil which lends a strong flavor to an otherwise bland chicken dish. This lends credence to my personal theory that Philippine cuisine is a close cousin of the Peranakan style of cooking because of the strong Chinese influence on both ingredients and methods.
Wee Nam Kee is another one of those restaurants that are leveraging on that particular kinship in taste preferences and yet providing something different to attract the younger and more moneyed customers. Though not like our own Tinola, Hainanese Chicken Rice is easy on the palate because of the Filipino familiarity with the same chicken-ginger savory flavor combination. Anyone living in the province and tries the Hainanese Chicken Rice for the first time will most likely to love it rather than spit it out. It’s close to home but then it’s not Filipino.
The price of Wee Name Kee is Singapore is SG $9.00 or about P308. The local Wee Nam Kee serves the same plate at P168, talk about savings without the airfare! Not to mention, the Hainanese Chicken Rice is healthier less saturated fat than a boiled pork dish or a hamburger without cheese. The rice is made by boiling it in chicken broth for maximum flavor.
I recommend you visit the Ayala Triangle Gardens this holiday season. After seeing the light show, have your dinner at Wee Nam Kee. Remember, the light begins at 6.00 pm and every 30 minutes thereafter. It’s a wonderful show to see! Be early so you can get a table at Wee Nam Kee.