THIEN KEE STEAMBOAT RESTAURANT | 黄金端记餐室
Located in the basement of Golden Mile Tower is an old gem, established in 1952, Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat is a Hainanese steamboat restaurant with at least 50 years of history. I had the opportunity to dine there are some tutors who patronized them in their youthful days.
For them, “traditional steamboat” is not like the ritual-less, usual dumping of vegetables, chicken meat and grill that we normally eat since the Marina South Steamboat days but rather the steamboat must have certain ingredients such as sliced pork, fish maw, fish balls, sea cucumber, squid, cockles and pig liver etc. to start off. This is something new to me, and perhaps these are subtleties that are easily overlooked that makes Thien Kee seemed like a “generic steamboat” to some.
Besides the steamboat they are known for, Thien Kee Steamboat also does a pretty decent version of the Hainanese Chicken Rice as well as Pork Satay. The chicken rice was flavourful and fragrant although it might be a tad oily for some. The chicken itself was very tender and served with a trio of spicy chilli sauce, minced ginger and soy sauce, the classics.
Don’t miss out on their Pork Satay as well. Heard it was not prepared in house but they grilled it themselves to their own standards and it was pretty good.
The ambience was great too. It is your old-school bustling, loud and casual restaurant. You order food, and it gets swiftly brought to you, the waitresses and waiters are candid and made sure they get their orders right in a family-like manner, service is more about efficiency. The atmosphere reminded me of the yesteryears.
Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant
#B1-20, Golden Mile Tower
6001 Beach Road
On Polling Day, we found ourselves back at this 1980s deli again. The stall wasn’t meant to be opened but the owner was doing some admin work and while the kitchen was closed, drinks and cakes were still available.
Stepping into the “first deli in Singapore” is like stepping back in time, the old appliances such as the vintage Hamilton Beach Scovill Model 941 Milkshake Mixer which is still working and used to make their signature milkshakes. I had the Cookies and Cream Milkshake and it was awesome. Not too sweet and it has a really nice, consistent and smooth texture mixed in with a couple of cookie chunks for some bite. It was yummy.
Part of the experience at Steeples Deli is listening to the lady proprietor reminiscing about Tanglin Shopping Centre’s past and sharing her stories of how famed artist Chen Wen Hsi used to be in the same building and taught her kids how to draw or how some of the veteran local architects used to hang out around here too.
The building itself is a highlight too. Built in the 1970s and extended in the 80s, the building is one of Design Partnership’s (present-day DP Architects’) earlier works like the Golden Mile Complex. The architect for this building was William Lim who was part of the early DPA.
#02-24/25, Tanglin Shopping Centre
19 Tanglin Road
SHASHLIK RESTAURANT |
The last time I visited Shashlik was in December 2010 for abloggers' dinner with the writers of food blogs like Indulgence after Workout, Simplest Aphrodisiac, Memoirs of Food, FoodiesQueen and Jer Lin some of these blogs have since moved on. I remembered Indulgence after Workout was the defacto dessert and hotel buffet blog then.
Shashlik is a “Russian” restaurant was opened in 1986 but its history goes back further to the 1963 under Troika a European-Russian restaurant like today's Shashlik, the predecessor of Shashlik and Balalaika Room, both of which were founded after the the closure of Troika due to debt problems.
Interiors of the former Troika Restaurant. Photograph taken in 1967, the person in the centre is Mr Lee Khoon Choy, former Minister of Culture, named as one of 100 Outstanding Chinese in the world in 2012.
Source : Singapore Archives
Apparently, the 10 wall lanterns saved from the auction of the assets of Troika, are all that remained of their predecessor.
The restaurant hasn't changed much and it still looked pretty much the same when I last visited it as well except the prices have increased and new gadgets are used by the waiting staff.
It is kind of like Chin Mee Chin Confectionery, where time stood still in a certain era where waitresses still push carts to serve flambéed desserts and meals start with oily fluffy bread with household butter. It reminded me of childhood when going to the restaurant to have a western style meal meant so much that one really have to dress up a bit for the rare occasion. The experience of eating mattered more than the food which is more of a local version of the western or European cuisine.
We had the Borschch with Sour Cream and the plating was different from 2010. Tastewise, it is a rich, tomato-based soup with beef, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. It is on the oily side but I enjoyed it.
Then, we had a Shashlik of Beef (32.00 ++ SGD), served with Russian Salad. The presentation was kind of Spartan but the beef, prepared medium rare was alright, with a tender pinky centre and grilled exteriors. It took quite a long time for this dish to arrive though. The salad was kind of strange to me.
As with the last visit in 2010, the food isn’t exactly the reason why I would come to Shashlik. It is the atmosphere that I would visit Shashlik again it I could before they closes at the end of the year. The restaurant is a no-rush laid back zone, it is the place to spend long hours chatting with your friends and reminisce about the past or just take it slow. It is a place to take a break from the rat race outside and get acquainted with the good-old family like service where aunties and uncles are candid about their opinions and recommendations.
The Baked Alaska has run out again at Shashlik for this visit. Sensing our disappointment, the auntie waitress taking our orders, smiled and said “Come back next time for the Baked Alaska lah!”
#06-19, Far East Shopping Centre
545 Orchard Road