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Wednesday, 09 March 2016 10:13

Guide to Hainanese chicken rice masters (Part Three)

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Big Birds chicken riceWe are what we eat. We have all heard this many, many times, but most of us do not quite believe it. After all, you have had your Hainanese chicken rice and didn’t turn into a Hainanese chicken. LOL! So we are not what we eat, are we?
 
We are – and it is every bit true. That is why we get so worked up when some Malaysian Minister say that the Hainanese chicken rice is not Singaporean. Because the Hainanese chicken rice is one of the dishes that is synonymous with the Singaporean identity.
But, regardless of who owns the copyright, the Hainanese chicken rice made its way to Singapore through the early Hainanese immigrants. Full of flavor and texture, the Hainanese chicken rice is an unassuming dish that is everywhere in Singapore. Food court. Hawker centers. Eateries. Cafés. Restaurants. Hotels. And onboard Singapore Airlines and Silk Air flights.  
 
The question is: Where do you go for a great plate of Hainanese chicken rice? 
Not the airlines. Haha! To help you with your search for Hainanese chicken rice, we pick some of Singapore’s best Hainanese chicken rice stalls. Here we go for the third time, this time with five eateries and stalls for you to choose from based on flavor and texture of the chicken and rice and affordability (we know you’re price conscious!).
#1. Hainanese Delicacy
Some say this Far East Plaza eatery serves one of Singapore’s tastiest Hainanese chicken rice. Others say the Hainanese chicken rice is not tasty because the rice is plain...BUT that’s what draws them to dine at Hainanese Delicacy!
This quaint hole-in-the-wall eatery can only accommodate 50 diners at any one time serves boneless chicken that is tender and succulent (the chicken is drizzled in sweet soy sauce and light spices!), with sweet and crunchy cucumbers by the side. The rice is not oily-oily and its subtle flavor is a good backdrop to the strong flavors of the chicken – great for people who are weight conscious. Oh, did we not forget to mention that the eatery’s homemade chili sauce is spicy and garlicky? 
If you are a hearty eater, opt for the three-person chicken rice meal. At $12 (that’s $4 per person), enjoy both steamed and roasted chicken that is lightly drizzled with sweet soy sauce. 
14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza, #05-116.  
#2. Big Bird chicken rice restaurant
Big Bird chicken rice restaurant is Derrick Chen’s labor of love. He has spent decades preparing tasty Hainanese chicken rice and garlicky chili without asking for anything (even a big bungalow house in Nassim Road!) in return.
But, perhaps, we’re guessing that he’s always secretly asked for good reviews from Singaporeans and to gain our support.
It all started with the couple trying out various types of chili sauces that would complement chicken rice. After some time of researching, they discovered that super spicy and garlicky chili + Hainanese chicken rice make a good pair. At $6.50 per plate, this eatery’s Hainanese chicken rice is pricey, but the chicken is juicy and full of flavor; it is boiled overnight in the eatery’s kitchen, under the supervision of the Chens. The rice is cooked in chicken broth and chicken stock. Pair it with Derrick and Besty’s chili sauce and you will get a sweet but a hot rendition of what we dare say is “Hainanese chicken laksa with rice.” 
In the words of homegrown songstress Stefanie Sun, one of Big Bird chicken rice restaurant’s loyal diners, “Everything is cooked to perfection, from the rice and the chicken to the super potent chili sauce.” 
That is one fantastic review and support from a fan.
271 Bukit Timah Road, Balmoral Plaza, #01-07.
#3.  Thien Kee chicken rice restaurant
Golden Mile is famous for all things sleazy, hence it is odd that a Hainanese chicken rice eatery would actually want to set up shop at this establishment. 
Well. So long there’s business, why not?
Every day, from morning to night, this Hainanese chicken rice eatery is packed with diners. School-going youths. Housewives. Corporate executives. Businessmen. Neighboring stall owners. Thai nightclub owners and hostesses. See, Thien Kee chicken rice restaurant attracts people living and working nearby.
Like most Hainanese masters, the chicken is both tender and juicy, and the rice is fragrant.
However, the chili sauce is watery and sour and that masks away the spiciness of chicken rice chili. If you are not a fussy eater and prefer having your Hainanese chicken rice without chili, dining at Thien Kee chicken rice restaurant is not a problem.
6001 Beach Road, Golden Mile Tower, #B1-20.
#4. Loy Kee Best chicken rice
Loy Kee is an old name in Hainanese chicken rice.
The minute you step into this simple, no-frills eatery, you are greeted by the nice scent of chicken broth. Wooden tables, stocky wooden chairs, and swirling ceiling fans give this eatery a laid back vibe and old-school feel. To keep diners cool and to help them fight the sweltering tropical heat, the eatery has installed air-conditioners!
Although this eatery’s Hainanese chicken rice pales in comparison to its popular brethren, Boon Tong Kee’s, the roasted chicken served is tasty. Crispy and tender, one can easily taste the chargrilled flavor with every bite. The rice is cooked in chicken broth and lightly sprinkled with garlic to give it a garlicky aroma.
This eatery also features a selection of traditional Singapore-style breakfast dishes like the kaya toast with soft boiled eggs and kopi, chee cheong fun and chicken porridge.
342 Balestier Road.
#5.  Delicious Boneless chicken rice
The name says it all: mouth-watering Hainanese chicken that is boneless with fragrant and oily rice. If you happen to be working or living in Katong town, Delicious Boneless chicken rice is the place to go for a sumptuous meal.
Seems that the owners of this Hainanese chicken rice stall believe in being generous in order to keep people returning. The chicken is meaty and tender, generously topped with fried garlic, chili, shredded carrot and radish to give it a unique presentation. The rice is oily; every grain of rice is seasoned in chicken broth for hours to give the dish its alluring chicky fragrance that whets appetites.
If you are a hearty gourmand, you can request for more rice, well-boiled soup and sedap achar – it is a guarantee.
865 Mountbatten Road, Katong Shopping Centre, #B1-85/87.  
Eastie Brekkie

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