Kim Keat Hokkien Mee: Lala clams & pork belly served in large sharing claypot up to 6-pax at TPY

It’s not every day you come across Hokkien mee in a claypot but Kim Keat Hokkien Mee at Toa Payoh Lor 4 Market & Food Centre serves exactly that. After a short chat with the current owner, Kelvin Lee, I did some online digging.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Stallfront

Some might remember when the former owner, Mr Lee Kim Keat, was at the helm. The redemption story of an ex-convict determined to turn his life around with humble hawker fare was touching, even more so with his ex-wife at his side. It was hence a genuine tragedy that news came of Mr Lee’s passing in late 2016. 

His son, Kelvin Lee (pictured above) was poised to shoulder this legacy. “Business was good back then, so I decided to continue my father’s business,” he shared. Until he took over operations, Kelvin had no experience whipping up a plate of Hokkien mee

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Claypot

“When I took over, everybody that saw me ran away,” said the 42-year-old. They told him, “Where’s your father? Nobody will try your cooking, nobody wants to give your skills a shot. You’re new.”

Despite the cruel remarks, Kelvin continued manning the stall with his mother, challenging the scepticism through grit and practice over the years. “I started to ask around, slowly learning as I went. But even now, you cannot call me a Hokkien mee master.”

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Chilli

According to Kelvin, the idea to serve Hokkien mee in claypots actually came from the man behind ieatishootipost, Dr Leslie Tay. Now in its 9th year of operation, Kim Keat Hokkien Mee continues to be a family-run business, with Kelvin occasionally receiving help from his sisters.

What I tried at Kim Keat Hokkien Mee

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Claypot Hokkien Mee

The portion sizes go up to 6-pax (S$33), but we played it safe with the 2-pax Claypot Hokkien Mee (S$11). The 2-person claypot was already brimming with ingredients, which means larger portions should come in bigger claypots.

In place of pork lard, the dish is topped with crispy pork belly alongside the usual cast of prawns. 4, in this case.

Swee Guan Hokkien Mee: Shiok charcoal-fried hokkien mee since 1968 at Geylang

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Single plate

We then got to work with splitting the portions. The short noodles made it difficult to get big scoops with the chopsticks, so the large ladle was definitely necessary. A good mix of mee and bee hoon gives fans of either enough to enjoy. Even though I prefer egg noodles, the balance brings with it stimulating variety in both texture and flavour.

As for the wetness factor, which can be a deal-breaker for many Hokkien mee enjoyers, it was mildly slick with the ‘zhup’ on the higher layers, and more moist at the bottom. So pick as you go, I suppose.

The one lacking element would be a weak, almost absent wok hei. Quite a divisive quality, but I reasoned it was due to inconsistency rather than ineptitude.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Pork belly

As for the pieces of pork belly, the few pieces on top were all we got. They were salty with crisp skin and a bit softer everywhere else. I would have loved for more to come with the Hokkien mee. Despite liking these, I missed having the more conventional pork lard to go with the noodles.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Sotong

We found a fair number of sotong as we dug through the claypot. I’ve never been too big a fan, but if you like hardier textures, these introduced a chewier element to the dish. A good addition and thoughtfully cut up for less bites, just not for me.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Lime drip and Hokkien mee scoop

We squeezed some lime to bring out the Hokkien mee’s full flavour spectrum. The mildly savoury noodles are given a spritely boost and much needed depth to its uniform softness.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Chilli on top

A dollop of sambal laced the noodles with a furious edge. Its potency was already dampened since I’d tossed a minimal amount with my noodles. Alongside the lime’s infusion of zest, we got stronger kicks of sourness and piquancy.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Prawn zoom

The 4 medium-sized prawns were fresh with a nice firmness but since they’re added last alongside the pork belly, there was not much else to them.

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Clam

Another not-so-common ingredient apart from the pork belly is la la, which had to number almost 10. Unfortunately, I encountered 2 unclean clams while my friend met with one. 

Final thoughts

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee - Overall

Overall, we quite enjoyed this unusual presentation of Hokkien mee. Unlike some dishes where I value the wok hei aspect a lot more, it was less pivotal for me here. For a 2-pax meal, the S$11 option was satisfactory but we agreed the 3-pax Claypot Hokkien Mee (S$16.50) might be more appropriate for those that come hungry.

Props to Kelvin for keeping his father’s legacy going.

Expected damage: S$5.50 to S$16.50 per pax

Order Delivery: foodpanda Deliveroo

中泰小食 Zhong Tai: Hidden zi char stall with black pepper Hokkien mee & mermaid eggplant in Woodlands

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee

92 Lor 4 Toa Payoh, #01-264, Singapore 310092

Our Rating 4/5

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee

92 Lor 4 Toa Payoh, #01-264, Singapore 310092

Telephone: +65 9011 4400
Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm (Thu to Mon), Closed on Tue & Wed
Telephone: +65 9011 4400

Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm (Thu to Mon), Closed on Tue & Wed