Kaokee brings Singapore hawker center faves to Makati 2
Kaokee's Hainanese Chicken Set. Jeeves de Veyra
Food & Drink

Kaokee brings Singapore hawker center faves to Makati

The latest concept from the McWilson group is built upon the Hainanese chicken party trays they sold during the pandemic.
Jeeves De Veyra | May 24 2024

Kaokee Singaporean Kitchen offers a cozy setting for comfort Singaporean-Chinese cuisine.

The latest concept from the McWilson group, who are behind Gringo, Tokyo Bubble Milk Tea, Honeybon, and Tatatito, is built upon the Hainanese chicken party trays they sold during the pandemic.

But a restaurant cannot be built on Hainanese chicken alone. So, they went to Singapore and found chefs and hawker stall owners to consult on what they could include in the menu.

One of these consultants was a retired Hainanese chicken specialist who helped them adjust their recipe to cater to the Filipino palate. In Singapore, restaurants are more known for their stall numbers rather than their name. The retired Hainanese chicken master was the owner-chef of Stall No. 9 in one of the more renowned hawker centers. No. 9, in Chinese, is "kaokee."

Kaokee Singaporean Kitchen is located at The Belamy House on Jupiter Street, Makati. Jeeves de Veyra
Kaokee Singaporean Kitchen is located at The Belamy House on Jupiter Street, Makati. Jeeves de Veyra

Reagan Tan, president and CEO of the McWilson Group, observed that Hainanese chicken is like adobo in the Philippines where there are many slight variations to the recipe, with each stall from different hawker centers claiming to have the best one. This one was chosen and tweaked to make up for the fact that local chickens are not as fatty as the ones in Singapore. But even with that limitation, Kaokee’s chicken dishes have that tinge of yellow that show off that layer of fat.

As advertised, the Hainanese chicken was tasty and reasonably fatty. The meal comes with chicken rice and the expected trio of dipping sauces of kecap manis (thick sweet soy sauce), minced ginger, and chili sauce. They even offer a roast version, which the group hopes could be like a Peking duck with that extra crisp skin with juicy meat. This is also available as a party tray for delivery and take out.

Cereal Prawn. Jeeves de Veyra
Cereal Prawn. Jeeves de Veyra
Salted Egg Prawn. Jeeves de Veyra
Salted Egg Prawn. Jeeves de Veyra
Stir-Fried Beef with Truffle. Jeeves de Veyra
Stir-Fried Beef with Truffle. Jeeves de Veyra

Hawker center offerings can be quite extensive. The group wisely focused on Singaporean-Chinese dishes to fill out the menu. These dishes differ partly because of the ingredients used. Good examples are the Cereal Prawn, Salted Egg Prawn, and Stir-Fried Beef with Truffle.

Shrimp Bee Hoon. Jeeves de Veyra
Shrimp Bee Hoon. Jeeves de Veyra

A Chinese menu won’t be complete without noodles. Think of the Shrimp Bee Hoon as a different saucy style of the familiar pancit bihon but with a pleasantly salty sauce, shrimp, and croutons.

Laksa and  Char Kway Teow. Jeeves de Veyra
Laksa and  Char Kway Teow. Jeeves de Veyra

Kaokee does have some Malaysian dishes snuck into their entrees. Stir-fried Char Kway Teow and Laksa are part of hawker center culture and could not be excluded from their menu.

Bah Kut Teh. Jeeves de Veyra
Bah Kut Teh. Jeeves de Veyra

Aside from the chicken, the Bah Kut Teh, a pork bone broth with medicinal herbs and spices, and Braised Pork and Vegetable Claypot Rice are must-orders.

The Bah Kuh Teh pork bone broth is light, yet filling. It comes with its own sauce that adds some salty soy notes to the soup.

Pork and Vegetable Claypot . Jeeves de Veyra
Pork and Vegetable Claypot . Jeeves de Veyra

The Pork and Vegetable Claypot takes some time to prepare. But it is worth the wait as they cook the rice from scratch in the claypot. This has flavor all throughout the dish from the melt-in-your mouth pork's braising liquid seeping into the rice until the socarrat-like crispy layer at the bottom.

Singaporean cafe drinks. Jeeves de Veyra
Singaporean cafe drinks. Jeeves de Veyra

Finish off with a drink from Kaokee’s selection of Singaporean cafe drinks, like Milo Dinosaur, Teh Tarik, Cold Honey Lemon, Iced Barley Pandan or the Yin Yang (coffee, milk tea and condensed milk).

Kaokee's desserts. Jeeves de Veyra
Kaokee's desserts. Jeeves de Veyra

They do have desserts that are also hawker center staples -- Shaved Ice Cendol, and their own version of Sticky Mango Rice served with shaved ice.

The relatively affordable menu of Kaokee is very extensive and is worth repeat visits. If you’ve ever braved the lines and heat of the hawker centers of Maxwell and Chinatown in Singapore, then you’ll be right at home here at No. 9.

Kaokee Singaporean Kitchen is located at the Upper Ground Floor of The Belamy House on Jupiter Street, Makati City and is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Thursday), 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday) and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday).