Thien Kee Steamboat is one of the few family-run restaurants I grew up dining with since I was a child in the 90s, where parking fees were only $1.50 per entry and MRT lines are available in only 2 colours. My family always frequented this establishment tucked in the basement of the Golden Mile Complex (5001 Beach Rd) for dinners.
The restaurant started out having a coffee-shop sized unit serving authentic Hainanese chicken rice to go with their traditional table pot steamboat. I recalled the early times where the place can get so crowded, it can take about a 30 minute wait to find a table. Then, the Steamboats were fueled by individual LPG canisters coupled to each table.
The place was renovated once in the early 2000s. Now, the gas lines are all centralized, piped from the ground and the establishment had expanded into the several shop in the basement to accommodate the additional dinner crowds.
A typical dinner will comprise steamboat platters starting at $38 for two, so a dinner for a family of four will typically cost upwards of $80. Selections comprises of a selection of meats, including pork, livers, and seafood (fish balls, prawns, squid, sea cucumbers, cockles), eggs and an assortment of leafy vegetables.
My dad used to reminiscent a couple of decades back where the similar platter only costs $16. The steamboat must be complimented with their trademarked chicken platter, chopped and prepared right in the restaurant own chicken rice stand and served with no other than their home-cooked chicken rice.
The quality of the steamboat items are fresh and the soup stock is the traditional chicken/pork/beef based stock, which is neither too salty nor tasteless. The chicken rice is excellent, not too oily yet very tasty and the white chicken meat (typical of the Hainanese style) is fresh, springy and served traditionally cold.
The kitchen also serves the usual share of Chinese seafood “zhe char” dishes, though the restaurant don’t have much a menu, which can prove challenge for first timers. A good dish to try here will be the sweet and sour pork chops, served on old-school aluminum stands. The restaurant staffs are mostly family members with additional helpers hired during the peak weekends.
Since they were opened in 1952, many of their processes don’t change. This incudes accepting only cash and taking the bill only when you are done eating; where the staff will manually count all your individual table items to tally up. Your dinner receipt items are all traditionally hand written in short form which only regular patrons will understand.
In conclusion, in a country largely driven by commercially franchised food outlets, Thien Kee Steamboat gets my recommendation as one of the few nice authentic family-run restaurants still operating in Singapore, there is only one restaurant in Singapore, so be sure to check it out when you are in the vicinity.
Thien Kee Steamboat Beach Road Golden Mile Tower
B1-20 Golden Mile Tower,
Makan Place Locality Map