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Restaurant Review Chen Kee – An Exceptional Chinese Restaurant on Bonaire

Feature Story Xp Bonaire IslandLife


In our series of restaurant reviews, we had yet to visit a Chinese restaurant. Given that Chinese cuisine is well-represented on Bonaire with numerous restaurants and snack bars, we thought it was high time to make a reservation. We chose a relatively new restaurant located on Gobernador N Debrot, Chen Kee.

Authentic Asian flavors

My companion had been to Chen Kee before and was particularly enthusiastic—an unusual reaction for Chinese restaurants. This excitement is understandable if you appreciate authentic Asian flavors, as most Chinese eateries on the island adapt their tastes to local preferences. Chen Kee, however, specializes in dishes from the Szechuan region and offers typical Chinese specialties that go beyond the usual Dutch-influenced Chinese food, such as traditional hot pot and roasted duck. 

We were warmly welcomed upon arrival. The restaurant consists of two sections: an indoor area and an outdoor area. The interior is luxuriously decorated and can accommodate about 40 people, with the same number of seats available outside. The outdoor seating, furnished with elegant tables and chairs that wouldn't be out of place inside, contributes to a positive first impression.

 

The friendly reception continued with the smooth handling of our drink and food orders. We had reserved hot pot in advance, and it was promptly brought to our table at the agreed time. Hot pot is a flavorful broth traditionally served inside a large metal pot. The broth is brought to a boil and left simmering for the duration of the meal. Raw ingredients, such as meat and vegetables, are placed into the simmering broth and thus cooked. The hot pot usually consists of two sections: a mild, sometimes even medicinal broth, and a section with Szechuan peppers, serrano peppers, and other spices for those who enjoy a spicy kick. The hot pot needs to be reserved at least one day in advance and can include only meat or a combination of fish and meat. It's designed for a minimum of three to four people.

 

Hot pot, also sometimes called Eastern fondue, originated in China but is also popular in countries like Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. The concept involves cooking various ingredients in the hot pot and then dipping them in different sauces. We had noodles and rice as side dishes. Our hot pot had two compartments: one spicy and one mild. An induction cooktop integrated into the table kept everything flat, safe, and super clean. The table was filled with an array of vegetables, chicken, beef, and pork belly. This not only made for delicious eating but also a very sociable experience.

 

Fresh, flavorful and plenty

 

Since Chen Kee serves more than just hot pot, we also ordered Chicken Sweet and Sour with fried rice. This was brought to our table by the chef himself. Two things stood out immediately: the chef's impeccable attire in a traditional chef's coat and the freshness of the ingredients. Freshness is generally expected in Chinese restaurants, but Chen Kee distinguishes itself through its presentation. This isn't just a quick meal; it's an evening out and no saving on the fresh vegetables and all ingredients are plentiful.

 

PRE ORDER

The menu revealed that roasted duck and many other roasted dishes, such as ribs and char siu roasted pork, are only available on Sundays on pre-order. This indicates that Chen Kee isn't a mass-production restaurant but one that prepares everything with great care. This was further evidenced when we were served tea, not just a cup of hot water with a tea bag on the side, but according to the Gong Fu Cha ceremony. The kettle, integrated into the table, was modern, but the rest was entirely traditional. The ceremony involves three steps: preparation of the tea leaves, brewing, and serving. Of course, drinking follows the second step, and there's etiquette involved. You take a small sip to taste, a slightly larger sip to savor the flavor, and a final sip for the aftertaste. Guests don't need to learn Gong Fu Cha by heart, as the staff takes the time to explain how it works.

 

Summary

 

We both agreed that Chen Kee is a restaurant worth frequenting. It's a bit pricier than most other Chinese restaurants on the island, but it's definitely worth the money and in comparison, to other restaurants, it is still very affordable. The combination of authentic flavors, fresh ingredients, and exceptional service makes Chen Kee stand out as a top dining destination on Bonaire.

 

INFO

Chen Kee   Chinese Restaurant

Kaya Gob Debrot 42

+599 717 6668

Daily 11am – 11pm






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