MUST TRY: Chicken rice
It started as a project to ease Mrs Tan Chee Kiow’s boredom of retirement after she left the work scene in 2006. On the other hand, Mrs Tan also wanted to share her Hainanese family dishes with her customers. Having heard about the restaurant from some friends, I decided to check it out.
One of things I wanted to find out was whether it was authentic Hainanese. To get a real insight, I invited husband-and-wife neighbours Wee and Ronnie, who are Hainanese from both sides of the family.
When the dishes were served, Ronnie noted that the Hainanese pork chops ($10) were cut the traditional way, which was very thin. The pork chops were absolutely yummy—super crisp on the outside with its coating of flour and moist and tender inside. But being Peranakan, I would have preferred the sauce to have more oomph and colour.
The fish maw soup (from $6) came with some hard boiled quail eggs. Again, this was another nice, authentic Hainanese touch. But yet again, the soup was slightly bland for my taste buds, it would be better if it was richer in taste.
Next came the dish I was most eager to try—the quintessential Hainanese chicken rice! And it didn’t disappoint. The rice was cooked just right, it was al dente and had a nice bite. In true Hainanese tradition, the white chicken was served plain, and the meat was not springy like the way most chicken rice is in Singapore where the chicken is usually poached in Cantonese style.
We also ordered the roast chicken ($28 for a whole chicken). Surprisingly, the roast chicken was actually deep fried. The delicious steamed and fried chicken complemented one another quite well. The chicken was served with some homemade chilli sauce as well as ginger sauce and some thick, black soya sauce.
Roast pork belly
We also tried the roast pork belly, which the Peranakans call babi panggang ($6 and $10) and the chicken curry ($5.50), which was served with bread, noodles or rice. Though the gravy was too salty for me, it was creamy and smooth the way Hainanese curries are meant to be.
Completing the Hainanese experience were the chicken macaroni soup ($5) and minced pork porridge ($5). We ended the meal with two delectable puddings–durian made with D24 durian flesh and mango pudding, both at $3. Both were very enjoyable.
Overall, it was a delicious and authentic meal. We also liked that we didn’t feel thirsty afterwards, which probably meant that there was little or no MSG used in the cooking—very homecooked indeed!
Opening hours: Daily: 10am-9pm
* inSing.com pays for the meals at the places we review.
One of Singapore’s leading food gurus, Violet Oon is considered a leading authority on Asian cuisine and her own speciality is the Nonya cuisine of Singapore. She has published three cookbooks of her own and they are Peranakan Cooking; Violet Oon Cooks; A Singapore Family Cookbook. She often represents Singapore as a food Ambassador abroad.