More often that not whenever I am doing a spot of shopping in Myeongdong I tend to grab something hot and tasty off one of the street stalls, but this past weekend I was out a bit earlier in the day and they had yet to set up. So rather than miss a meal I instead ventured across to the Lotte Department Store food court to get something hot and tasty in my mouth. Usually when I’m in here it’s to get Panda Express, but I prefer to reserve the cheap and cheerful Chinese for when I am hungover and when only deep fried artificial sauce goodness and cheap noodles will do. After taking a good look at all the options I was drawn to the crispy roast chicken in the window of Singapore stall Wee Nam Kee. I recall trying the Hainanese style chicken and rice in Singapore when we travelled there a few years back but have yet to have it since, and had no idea it was available here in Seoul.
The small stall offers two sets, steamed chicken or roasted chicken (9,500). The skin on the roasted version looked epic so couldn’t resist getting it. The stall itself has no seating but you can take your tray to the shared seating area, or get it all wrapped up to go. The first thing I tried was the soup which was spectacularly good, and clearly made with all the left over bones that they don’t use. It reminded me of the three ways duck I ate in Beijing where they boil up your leftovers and give you soup to eat after. It was flavourful without being greasy and had just a light touch of Chinese style spices. This is exactly the kind of soup I want when I’m feeling under the weather so at least I know where to get it come winter.
The main dish of the sliced chicken came with bok choi, spring onions, cucumber, and fresh coriander in a slightly sweet soy sauce. It was served with their signature ginger and chili sauce. The chicken itself is insatiably tender, and melt in the mouth. The skin was not as crispy as it looked hanging up, I was hoping it would be like crispy duck skin, but it was good nonetheless. The chicken and fresh veggies were sat in a pool of soy and sesame dressing which was very flavourful, while the chili and ginger dip added an extra tang and a nice punch of heat. Served on the side is a mound of slightly fragrant rice, which rounded out the meal helped balance the salty and spicy flavours. It was a very flavourful meal, and I felt perfectly satisfied after eating it.
All in all I was rather impressed with my Hainanese chicken and rice, and I’ll certainly be on the look out for any other restaurants in the city that serve it. While Chicken and rice are two ingredients that most of us have at home they can be eaten in a multitude of ways. I think most of us are getting pretty excited about the Halal Guys opening up their first store in Itaewon in the next few week to serve their middle eastern style chicken and rice to the masses, but this Singaporean version is not to be missed either.
Wee Nam Kee is located in the Basement of the Lotte Department Store at 81 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Euljiro 1 station (line 2) and come out of exit 7 which will lead you directly into the Lotte deparment store. Keep walking straight until you reach the B1 floor. You will find Wee Nam Kee in the food court area.