Heng Kee is a four-decade-old hawker stall specialising in curry chicken noodles at Hong Lim Hawker Centre. Started by the late Mr Tay Yong Heng (who passed on at the age of 68 back in Sep 2013), the stallowner-cook is now his son, Tay Khang Huat, 46, who’s managed to replicate his father’s cooking to the ‘t’. Same flavours, same textures. If I don’t see the person behind the stove, I’d not been able to tell that the son has taken over from the father. He’s assisted by his mum, the feisty Mdm Theng Pow Chen, whom all regulars would easily recognize.
The queue starts building up from the moment it opens for business at 10.30am. Try to be there around 11am. By noon, you’ll be joining a queue with at least an hour’s wait time.
Heng Kee’s curry noodle is best when you ask for “beehoon mee”, i.e. a mix of thin rice vermicelli (“beehoon”) and thick, yellow Hokkien noodles (“mee”). The curry gravy, concocted by the late older Mr Tay, is fairly liquid, sweet-savoury and enriched with thin coconut milk. The chicken is poached separately from the curry, chopped up and added atop the blanched noodles before the curry gravy - containing potatoes and tofu puffs - is poured over. Large strips of Teochew-style fishcake is also added, together with extras like chicken liver or gizzards.
The last time I came here, I brought along Jim Leff, founder of Chowhound - I just needed to show him my favourite noodle stall in the whole wide world. I was a bit worried if he’d find the noodles too spicy, but no - he finished every single drop of the gravy.
P.S. - Some people actually go for Ah Heng, a copycat curry noodle stall upstairs. Not for me, I’d been a regular at Heng Kee for nearly 30 years now.
Heng Kee Curry Beehoon Mee
531A Upper Cross Street
#01-58 Hong Lim Food Centre
Opening hours: 10.30am - 2.30pm, Mon-Sat (Closed on Sundays)