Tian Tian Chicken Rice, known to be Singapore’s top chicken rice and featured on Anthony Bourdain’s programme No Reservations, had lost its ‘Master Chef’.
The man, better known as Ah Tai, who has been cooking the famed Tian Tian Chicken Rice set up another chicken rice shop just 3 stalls away at Maxwell. His stall has been attracting media fanfare and a longer queue during lunch. (I sense lots of drama because he is also a relative of Tian Tian’s boss Ms Loi Mui Yin who sacked him after a quarrel!)
So who wins the chicken rice war?
Firstly, Tian Tian’s winning formula to me has to be its rice. Even Anthony Bourdain said that the chicken rice is so fragrant and delicious that it can be eaten on its own. Probably one of the best chicken rice in Singapore, it’s warm, fluffy, fragrant and tasty. So good I can just eat it with the chilli sauce.
Ah Tai’s rice is very similar, too similar. It is served with a special sauce poured over, though I noticed the taste of the rice could be uneven at parts. Despite what many reviewers said, Tian Tian’s rice resonates better with me.
Both chickens are fresh, cold and succulent. Ah Tai’s chicken came boneless, and made eating a lot easier.
As Ah Tai staff was seeing me taking lots of photos of their food, I was immediately served a bowl of hot soup. Despite that, Ah Tai’s clear soup is very comfortable on the tummy, and felt ‘healthier’ and less salty.
Another must-have with my chicken rice is ‘tau gay’. Tian Tian’s bean sprouts were served hot with cut chillies and shallots – very crunchy, and tasty with the dash of chicken oil poured over.
Ah Tai’s sprouts lacked that same crunchiness. Though I must say their staff is very polite and tries to interact with you on a personal basis (compared to the systematic ‘cold’ queue at Tian Tian) – perhaps the cause of the longer waiting times as well.
Overall, both chicken rices are definitely delicious and it is almost hard to differentiate if you do a blind-taste test. After all, Ah-Tai cooked with Tian Tian for 20 years. If I were to pick one stall to eat from, it would still be Tian Tian. I know you may disagree with me.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore (Chinatown MRT Station) Tel: +65 9691 4852
Opening Hours: 11am – 8 Daily (Closed on Mons)
Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice
1 Kadayayanallur Street, #01-07 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore (Chinatown MRT Station) Tel: +65 8137 6559
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm Daily (or till sold out)
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