It seems that a number of Malaysian-based establishments had started to enter the Singapore F&B scene of the late, especially with the opening of other brand names such as Kind Kones recently.
Occupying the space at 43 Joo Chiat Place which used to house Kim’s Place Seafood Restaurant (which had since reduced its operations to 45 and 47 Joo Chiat Place), You Kee XO Restaurant is yet another new entrant into the food scene in Singapore, with multiple outlets in operations within Malaysia. Setting up their first outpost overseas, the Singapore branch is well-hidden within the Tanjong Katong/Joo Chiat neighbourhood. Decked in a style similar to that of old-school Chinese restaurants, the design theme had incorporated the use of many oriental elements that gives the establishment a traditional yet modern look with its open-air set-up. Offering similar menus to the outlets operating across the border, You Kee XO Restaurant at Joo Chiat Place serves up their famed herbal soups and roast meats (available in both ala-carte, as well as rice/noodle options), whilst also serving up a list of “special selections” on their menu and having a page dedicated to their “Local Kampong Dishes”. Whilst the establishment is being set-up in a way that allows for group gatherings for groups above 6 pax, the establishment is sized rather modestly, and patrons may be expected to wait for seats during peak periods at times.
Going for their “special selections” to share across the table, we went for the Fish Otak. Served in a block akin to that of Muar Otah, the Fish Otak was sufficiently moist and soft with a consistent texture. We also liked how the Fish Otak was pretty simple; carried evident hints of the spices used without being particularly oily, whilst also carrying a kick of spiciness that should be tolerable for those who are able to take moderate levels of spiciness.
(Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish)
We also tried the Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish from the same section of the menu; a rather simple dish that carries no surprises, the Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish is what it essentially is; crunchy beansprouts which were cooked well that comes with chunks of salted fish for flavour.
(Handmade Signature Beancurd)
Having seen images of it being shared so often on social media, the Handmade Signature Bean Curd was an item that had already caught our attention whilst finding out about You Kee XO Restaurant online. Served in a claypot that helps to retain its warm temperature throughout the meal, the Handmade Signature Bean Curd is certainly worth its signature title. Coming drenched in a savoury sauce, the smooth beancurd comes with a pretty, golden brown crust, whilst also accompanied with bits of minced pork, pork lard and other greens. We loved how flavourful the sauce and the other elements were; a great accompaniment to the smooth, soft, and silken bean curd that is absolutely a pleasure to have. The sauce also works exceptionally well especially with rice as well; an item that created a really memorable impression in terms of presentation, flavours, texture and execution. Pretty much a must-order item here, considering how we finished this clean off the claypot in a heartbeat; very delicious, and something which we would certainly develop cravings for again.
(Roast Platter; Top: Crystal BBQ Pork Belly Char Siew, Middle: Roasted Pork Belly, Bottom: XO Signature Roast Duck)
Being known for their roasted delights, we cannot leave You Kee XO Restaurant without ordering their roast meat platter. Served in three different sizes (small, medium, or large), the platter comes default with three different types of meat, namely their XO Signature Roasted Duck, Roasted Pork Belly, and the Crystal BBQ Pork Belly Char Siu. All three types of meat were pretty well-executed; a rarity considering how most roast meat speciality stalls are usually stronger in one or two of the meats, but not every variety that they serve up. That being said, if we would only have a single type of meat at You Kee XO Restaurant, our pick would have to be the Crystal BBQ Pork Belly Char Siu; the stellar execution of the Crystal BBQ Pork Belly Char Siu would suit those who like the char siew to be fatty and well-coated in sweetness, whilst carrying a smoky note from the char. The Crystal BBQ Pork Belly Char Siu is undoubtedly tender; melt-in-the-mouth and being all gelatinous, being done Malaysian-style, and certainly not for those who prefer their char siew to be on the leaner side. The XO Signature Roasted Duck was also pretty memorable as well; the meat sliced against the grain so as to achieve a tender bite, whilst also not being particularly grainy. While our portion came with most of the skin missing, the parts with the skin on carried a slight contrast of savoury notes, while the duck itself also carries an evident herbal flavour as well. The Crispy Pork Belly is also done better than most places, though the flavours of the spice rub could be a little heavier in our opinion; the proportion of fatty meat against lean meat was pretty alright, while the skin was also considerably crispy though could be a little lighter in terms of texture. That being said, the Crispy Pork Belly is an item best to be had immediately upon being served at the table; the quality seemed to have dipped a little after we have left it at the table for a while when we were in the midst of enjoying the other dishes. The meats also come with a thoughtful serving of greens dressed in Goma dressing, which helped to cleanse the taste buds from the all that meatiness.
Whilst we have not visited You Kee XO Restaurant in its home ground, we were pretty impressed with what You Kee XO Restaurant had served up during our visit to their Joo Chiat Place branch. Dishes such as their Handmade Signature Bean Curd and the Crystal BBQ Pork Belly Char Siu are well-executed and absolutely delicious; items worth making a trip to You Kee XO Restaurant just to try them out, which is a showcase of what they are capable of doing. Whilst other dishes we have had were less impressionable, they were also of respectable quality, being pretty much above average as compared to what other places may be serving up and work well as a complimenting role to the signature dishes they have to offer. We could see the reason why some Singaporeans would venture out to Johor Bahru in Malaysia to have a meal at You Kee XO Restaurant; the finesse in their cuisine, the quality of the ingredients, and the affordability of the items served all play as great factors to how You Kee XO Restaurant had built up their fan base here, and the opening of their newest overseas branch in Joo Chiat Place helps to add to the convenience of us finally getting to try, or go for a meal at You Kee XO Restaurant without our passports. With such standards set, we hope that You Kee XO Restaurant would be able to maintain, or if not, even improve on what they have to offer; a place that we would not mind travelling to again for some pretty great dishes, as well as to try the other items that they have to offer. We wish the folks behind You Kee XO Restaurant all the best in what has to come!
You Kee XO Restaurant
43 Joo Chiat Place