Tai Lei Loi Kei | nex

Fastfood or quick service?

I follow a Singaporean’s blog on Tumblr (I won’t provide details because it’s NSFW). By simply committing his lunches to a diet of steamed chicken breast and broccoli, and working out 3 to 4 times a week (and the ubiquitous protein shake after), his physique and fitness began to see significant changes within days.

I was inspired. For a while now, I’ve dedicated to keeping myself fit. And although I know that diet plays an important part in fitness, conventional advise on meal plans always seemed like a tall order. It was virtually impossible, not because of cost, but time. The last thing I want to do when I come home, seeing as I often come back home pretty late these days (after gymming), is cook dinner AND tomorrow’s lunch. However, following the blog, and bearing witness to the consequence of committing just one meal to eating clean, convinced me that it was something that I could do, and should do.

So, I did just that. I remember my first lunch being really bland, but I felt the effects of eating so clean almost instantaneously – I didn’t have that typical post-lunch fatigue and I felt energized. Combined with my evening workouts over the subsequent days, I reached new records at the gym!

Then, it came. It was a sort-of crunch time at work, and it came to a point where I had to stop preparing such lunches. To “compensate”, I decided to eat Yong Tau Foo (read: mostly vegetables) every day. And while I still enjoyed that energy at work, I crashed and burned in the gym. Then, that energy too, began to fade…it was not until I almost fated on the commute home that I realized I needed an intervention. I needed meat, and I needed it now. So, I got off at Serangoon and literally went to the first eatery I could find: Tai Lei Loi Kei.

Founded in 1968, Tai Lei Loi Kei specializes in Macanese Pork Chop Bun, a simple pork sandwich made from a French loaf and a Chinese spiced pork chop. There also rice and noodle items on the menu, but the only other ubiquitous Macanese dish is the sawdust pudding.

The Pork Chop Bun is just what it is – savoury, tender and well-spiced. The bun, an incarnation worthy of its Portuguese roots. When I had it, I was like, “Dojo, THIS is what I expect from you”. On the whole, it’s just exactly what you’ll expect, if you were being served in Macau.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? In Macau, the Pork Chop Bun would probably be more than satisfactory. However, Singapore is in Southeast Asia, and one could argue that Singaporeans are well-traveled, or that we’re food lovers. Whatever it is, I just couldn’t shake the bahn mi comparisons, and how superior bahn mi is, compared to this, especially when you talk about price (about SGD 12 with set here).

For me, I believe Tai Lei Loi Kei has fundamental problems with its concept. The fact that most diners when I visited, did not order the brand’s signature Pork Chop Bun should raise flags for any brand owner. The Pork Chop Bun is far too little, too late. For its price, it’s small, and if the sides, by virtue of also being meat dishes, disuade any potential order. I’d rather visit McDonald’s, to get more bang for my buck, to be honest.

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