Lee Fan Nam Kee at Toa Payoh Lorong 4

Lee Fan Nam Kee - Soya Sauce Chicken

This blog wonders what the fascination with the word “Kee” is with Chinese Restaurants, especially the chicken rice specialists who seem to also favour “Nam”. There is Wee Nam Kee in Novena, Nam Kee on Thompson Road, Lee Nam Kee (recently changed to Lee Fan Nam Kee) in Toa Payoh Lorong 4. Must be a Hainanese thing.

This blog was looking for a nice dinner place around Toa Payoh during a lunch (this blog likes to plan meals ahead of time) with friends at Poppi.

“I wonder if the Lee Nam Kee soya sauce chicken is still around,” asked the recently elected leader of the Singapore chapter of the world’s oldest food society, “it’s been 15 years since I last visited. The last time we had one and a half chickens because the rice was so good.”

When you hear such comments, there is no alternative but to seek out Lee Nam Kee; it is almost a geas except that it is a chicken, deliciously soya-sauced.

Supposed to be the first Soya Sauce Chicken Rice Restaurant in Singapore (since 1968), the restaurant is a simple coffee shop that serves mainly chicken and duck rice with side dishes. The restaurant is still in the same location at Toa Payoh Lorong 4. It’s a little stuffy; according to the longtime staff there, it’s due the the “new” multi-storey carpark “blocking” the breeze. The price of progress I guess. They do offer a “Hainanese Steamboat” but this blog cannot determine the difference between that and other steamboats.

Of course, ordering in a Soya Sauce Chicken Rice Restaurant presents little difficulties.


The roast pork belly was a tad dry and the Char Siew was surprisingly tasteless. After a few visits, the butcher noted that up to now I’ve never ordered any vegetables.

To remedy that I ordered the Kai Lan with oyster sauce. It was great because they added a huge mound of pork lard to make up for this moment of vegetarian weakness.


The soya sauce chicken was excellent. Juicy and flavourful. While it does not quite have 11 herbs and spices, it had that deep earthy herbal taste that can only come from Star Anise, Cinnamon, Tang Kwei, 5-spice powder and some other taste that I cannot identify.


The main thing about chicken rice, be it steamed “white” chicken, roasted or soya-sauced, the two most important things are actually the rice and the chilli sauce. The rice was well infused with the flavours of the chicken as well as herbs.

The chilli sauce was well balanced; it’s not the fiery type that numbs your tastebuds. It was sweet with a slight heat that brought out the flavours of the herbal soya sauce chicken to the fore.


Lee Fan Nam Kee has gone through a lot of changes through the years. From the attempt at going upmarket at serving wine (I would recommend a nice Barolo to go with the thick herbal sauce) to franchising. Whichever the case, Lee Fan Nam Kee provides a comfortable eating place for the family; the food is good, generous and comforting.

Definitely the place to bring a hungry Cha Xiu Bao.

Lee Fan Nam Kee is at Blk 94 Toa Payoh Lorong 4, #01-04 Singapore 310094.


Posted on 13th May 2007 in Food and Drink, Hainanese, Singapore


There Are 2 Comments


beaulotus commented on September 2, 2007 at 6:22 pm

I grew up with Nam Kee Kai Fan in Toa Payoh (used to live at Blk 58), my chldhood consisted of eating there at least once a week! And till this day, not only do I remember their chicken and rice, but also something that I couldn’t seem to find easily again – chicken blood. Silky smooth slices of chicken blood tofu in soy sauce, it was heavenly…


Ivan commented on September 3, 2007 at 10:08 am

@beaulotus: Definitely. There is really nothing like a warm fragrant plate of chicken rice and silky smooth cold chicken. I have not had their chicken blood, so it’s something to order the next time I’m there.

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