A glistening plate of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice wins for... find out below
Moving on from Part I of the massive 20-plate chicken rice taste test we conducted at our office, we have the second half of this finger-lickin' good operation. Read on for the vegetarian, halal and roast chicken rice dishes, as well as the hottest chicken rice chilli sauce, and best overall chicken rice in Singapore.
|To view all 20 plates of chicken rice in pictures, |
go to theBest chicken rice in Singapore gallery
BEST ROAST CHICKEN RICE Loy Kee Chicken Rice, $4.80
The roast flavour is strong in this one. The Hainanese-style bird is the best of the restaurant's elements – tender, with a hint of sesame oil, and salty-skinned. The full-grained rice is stiff in fragrance, while the big-flaked sweet chilli sauce, and even sweeter thick black sauce, drag this version down a little.
Loy Kee Chicken Rice | Address: 342 Balestier | Tel: 62522318 | Opening hours: Daily: 9.30am-10.30pm
|At least the vegetarian dish comes in cute bento packaging ||
Photo credit: Celine Asril
VEGETARIAN'S CHOICE Pine Tree Cafe(Fortune Centre), $5
“Like chap chye peng (Chinese dialect for ‘mixed vegetables rice’),” said a slightly turned-off taster. Pine Tree Cafe's vegetarian chicken rice uses beancurd skin to create its mock roast chicken dish. As flavourful as the filmy tofu skin is, the mock meat is, quite regrettably, “as fake as it can get”. Not surprisingly, the rice has almost no taste on every count; and the chilli – though spicy – has a bizarre raw veggie taste. We reckon it’s not that bad for a vegetarian dish though – they really tried.
Pine Tree Cafe (Fortune Centre) | Address: 190 Middle Road, #02-09/13 Fortune Centre | Tel: 98154940 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-10.30pm
Red Riding Hood Hainanese Chicken Rice
Roast chicken, $3.50
This popular business-worker's cheap lunch spot has two entries in this test. While the rice and chilli is the same for both – grains: flat in flavour and integrity; chilli: spicy, garlicky and not enough vinegar – the roast chicken is tough, dense and has not much flavour, even though it smells as a good roast should. The egg is not strongly flavoured enough either.
White chicken, $3.50
Soft but tasteless (like the roast version), and a little dry. The rice looks whole, but is bloated, mushy with no taste of chicken; while the chilli sauce is “barely there” with too much coriander – we blame the garnish.
Red Riding Hood Hainanese Chicken Rice | Address: 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-102 | Tel: 62263869 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10.30am-8pm
Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice (Mei Chin Food Centre), $3
We're convinced this Cantonese-style stall might be famous for something else altogether: the roast chicken is a selection of fibrous, healthy-looking (and -tasting) breast meat; overcooked rice is soggy and flavourful, though not of the chicken stock; and flake-filled chilli sauce is too sweet. The dish doesn’t come together, not even with the bitter-noted dark sauce.
Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice (Mei Chin Food Centre) | Address: 159 Mei Chin Road, #02-22 Mei Chin Food Centre | Tel: 64739525 | Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11.30am-2.30pm
|For behind-the-scenes photos of our chicken rice taste |
test, go to theBest chicken rice in Singapore gallery
Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, $3.50
“Yikes.” This halal white chicken is soft – not in a good way – and a bit dry. “Doesn’t taste like chicken,” a taster flapped. The lumpy rice is flat, with a strange and “slightly ‘off’ smell”. The chilli sauce is also disconnected: dark and dull in appearance, but too sweet and too spicy. It disappoints the rest of the already disappointing dish.
Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice | Address: #01-32 6 Jalan Bukit Merah, ABC Brickworks Food Centre
|Tian Shui's chilli compensated for the rest of the bland|
dish | Photo credit: Celine Asril
HOTTEST CHILLI SAUCETian Shui Chicken Rice, $3
We were served the wing of a white bird, which turned out to be a little tough and not flavourful enough. The same goes for the rice – bland. The citrus-noted chilli sauce killed the Hainanese dish – “very hot!” and “damn spicy” was the consensus; this fiery sauce is overpowering.
Tian Shui Chicken Rice | Address: #01-21 48A Tanglin Halt Road, Tanglin Halt Market & Food Centre | Tel: 97575532 | Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-10pm)
BEST CHICKEN RICE Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, $3.80
Yet again. “Wah shiok ah!” are the words on the street for Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, though in our test environs, that exclamation refers specifically to the sour-spicy chilli sauce that is the “right balance of chilli, garlic and ginger”. The fragrant fluffed-up rice is smooth, not mushy and nicely oiled with a rich chicken stock flavour. The white chicken, however, received mixed reviews: some thought it was too stiff and dense (us), while others praised it for being “very tender and glistening with [good] oil”. Whichever side the chicken roosts, this one evokes familiar taste points; one even scribbled on the comment sheet, “is that you, Boon Tong Kee?”
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice | Address: 443 Joo Chiat Road | Tel: 63459443 | Opening hours: Daily 10 am-10 pm
|The ginger, dark sauce and chilli at Wee Nam Kee were more|
outstanding than its chicken | Photo credit: Celine Asril
BEST CHICKEN RICE CONDIMENTSWee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant, $4.80
We were really excited for this Upper Thomson family restaurant to top these charts, but the entire roast version is very plain: from the bloated “Plain Salty Jane” rice grains, to the dry, tough, salted-skinned chicken. The dense, fibrous ginger sauce saved this downward-diving plate, as may have the roundly-sweet thick black sauce, and bright and tangy spicy chilli sauce.
Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant | Address: 275 Thomson Rd | Tel: 62556396 | Opening hours: Daily 10.30am-2am
Yet Con Restaurant, $5.80
Yet Con Restaurant's white chicken is surprisingly average in taste, and a little tough in parts. The chicken is cut wider, so you get hunks of breast meat on grains that keep their shape well. The fiery-looking chilli is actually mild yet tasty, like the Indonesian sambal oelek. General consensus: a passable Hainanese, but way too pricey.
Yet Con Restaurant | Address: 25 Purvis St | Tel: 63376819 | Opening hours: 10am-10pm
Read Part I for
Former food & drink editor at Time Out Singapore magazine, Celine Asril's other previous incarnations include food blogger, cook, and food photographer's assistant. The avid WWOOFer and Twitter-jointed writer has been published on CNNGo, Forbes Travel and in Asian Gourmet and Smile magazine. She is now adding edible codes to inSing.com. Follow her work twitter feed at @HungryGoWhere.
Denise Cheong is a freelance writer who spent the last three years chasing dingoes in the land Down Under. She has been published in Time Out Singapore, CNNGo and The Straits Times, but spends most of her non-working time eating, traveling and Instagramming. She could eat chicken rice forever.