Huat Kee run by three generations of a family

Three generations of a family work at Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee, and every day at around 4.30pm, they occupy one of its tables to eat together before the dinner crowd starts streaming in.

The tight family unit has been running the business since 1969, when it was founded by the late Lee Jee Tee.

Evidence of this dedication is exhibited by the family matriarch, Madam Loh Hock Eng, 80, the founder's daughter-in-law.

Madam Loh is on her feet supervising staff in the kitchen at the RELC Building in Orange Grove Road, where everything is handmade. Huat Kee moved to the RELC Building three years ago from Amoy Street.

Madam Loh works every day of the year and shops for provisions before the crack of dawn, her granddaughter Jasmine Lee, 28, told The Straits Times.

The family's story is detailed in an upcoming food heritage publication called Delicious Heirlooms.

Ms Lee, who used to spend time at the restaurant after school, fondly remembers how she would put her school work aside and chat with customers instead.

 
 

"I would sneak out and walk around the restaurant with my bolster to greet customers because I liked talking to people."

Ms Lee now interacts with Huat Kee's corporate clients as its business development manager and future successor.

Her father Lee Chiang Howe, 55, is currently Huat Kee's managing director.

Ms Lee is also behind the restaurant's range of ready-to-eat Teochew treats which include premium shark's fin and abalone.

Huat Kee itself continues to serve old favourites, and its menu features about 10 Teochew classics such as braised duck and steamed pomfret, and its famous oyster omelette.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Huat Kee run by three generations of a family'. Print Edition | Subscribe