I know this is a shockingly late realisation, but I've rediscovered Zion Road stalwart Sum Kee! I used to be a regular of the coffeeshop cze char, but after it relocated to Telok Blangah, at the decrepit Yeo's Building, sometime in 2011, fell off my "regular eats" radar.
Despite its out-of-the-way locale, Sum Kee still attracts a good crowd comprising long-timers and multi-generational types who love their homey, traditional cze char. And their free and plentiful parking. The extensive menu ranges from the premium, like abalone, to the humble, like cze char staple stir fries. I find them to be excellent when it comes to the classic coffeeshop cze char fare, as they do these with aplomb and finesse, but not so much when it comes to the more luxurious stuff. Methinks they don't get them seafood sparkling fresh. So stick to the basics for a memorably superb meal.
The Fried Chicken Skin ($8 for small) aka "Chicken Bikini Skin" was just the most epic translation fail ever, but the chicken skin was exactly what childhood dreams were made of. Paper thin, crunchy and decadently delicious, I appreciated that they made this slightly healthier by frying just the skin, not the underlying fat, and drained it properly of oil. I know, I know, who am I kidding right? That said, in spite of its sinful nature, I'd still call this an absolute must-order.
I'm not sure how Sum Kee's Ultraman Chicken ($12 for small) relates to the Japanese humanoid giant space hero, but the crusty, grainy, salty salted egg yolk coating moist chicken morsels sure packed a punch. Really outstanding stuff.
The Vegetarian Treasure Roll ($12 for small), a beancurd skin version of spring rolls, was another sterling appetizer. I loved the textural contrast of the crunchy battered skin encasing the pillowy layers of chewy beancurd skin and juicy filling of radish, carrots and mushrooms strips.
An off-menu item, the Satay Pork ($12 for small) was a tad disappointing, but only because it was held up to the highest of standards in comparison to the rest of the dishes. On its own, it was lively and nutty, given a piquant lift from the caramelised pineapples.
Oozing with comfort food factor, the Hotplate Tofu ($12 for small) arrived bubbling with an egg scramble. This was so much more than a sum of its parts, in most part elevated by that awesome delicate velvety brown gravy.
The Coffee Pork Ribs ($10) was disappointingly overdone, it was dried out, and the coffee glaze had an off-putting burnt after-taste.
The Salted Vegetable Soup ($6) may have been a bit of an MSG-overload, but it was generously laden with tofu, pork slices, tomatoes, shrimp, fish, and squid.
The Sauteed Dow Miao ($12) was nicely done, garlic aplenty and a lovely crunch.
The Egg Fried Rice ($4) was simplicity at its finest, fluffy, a decent wok hei and beautifully coated with egg.
The "Johor Hokkien Mee" ($10 for medium) may appear to be a cousin of the KL Hokkien mee, but for all intents and purposes, tastes the same as its northern cousin. I've checked around and it seems that this type of Hokkien mee isn't native to West Malaysia's southernmost state, so it's probably another one of their translation fails. Bad English aside, this was the best rendition of the beloved KL noodles I've had locally thus far. Thick and gooey and redolent of artery-clogging fried lard, the flat egg noodles were a wonderfully chewy medium perfect for soaking up all that delicious gravy.
Old Hongkong Street Sum Kee Food
2 Telok Blangah St 31
Tel: 6737 3233
Open daily from 11am to 11pm