Talk about one of Singapore’s most iconic hawker dish, and it would be Hainanese Chicken Rice – something that would still taste good after dabao (takeaway).
The Hainanese chicken rice typically consist of poached or steamed chicken chopped into pieces, then served on fragrant rice. This is occupied with light or dark soy sauce (or both), and garlic-chilli sauce.
A main highlight is the rice, which gets its flavours from chicken fat and broth.
As to why you would usually find many Hainanese Chicken Rice shops in the North Bridge Road area, that is because the dish is said to have taken root in Middle Road, Purvis Street and Koek Road more than 60 years ago.
Here are 10 places in Singapore to satisfy your Hainanese Chicken Rice cravings:
Hua Kee Chicken Rice
85 Redhill Lane, #01-72, Redhill Food Centre, Singapore 150085
Opening Hours: 8am – 3pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Loyal followers would know it is owned and run by a 70 plus year old hawker, an affectionate auntie named Mdm Tan. For more than 40 years, she has served hundreds of diners and now her son, Jay Lim is helping her out.
This no-frills hawker shop with a red signboard, a favoured lunch spot among locals, has a two-items menu: Chicken Rice ($4, $5) and Poached Chicken ($15 for half, $28 for whole).
What gives the chicken meat its mild flavour is the blend of light soy sauce and chicken broth that serves as poaching liquid.
The poached chicken was not overly greasy or saucy, in fact still tasted slightly ‘cold’, but had this smoothness which was quite alluring that I enjoyed very much.
It adds that subtle savoury and sweetness that go well with the house made chili sauce. Simple but worth the wait for. Hua Kee Chicken Rice (Redhill Food Centre)
Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice
Block 40, Stall 7, #01-39, Holland Drive, Singapore 270040
Tel: +65 8428 7865
Opening Hours: 11am – 4pm or while stocks last (Tue – Sun), Closed Mon
Founded in 1971 as a hawker stall at the now-defunct Margaret Drive Food Centre, it is a family business owned by a Mr. Leong. This stall is operated by one of his sons Benson.
The flagship item Chicken Rice ($3.50, $4.00, $4.50) is the most popular in the menu line-up.
Sin Kee’s chicken are poached in a flavourful stock using chicken bones and other seasonings, to produce chicken that’s tender, smooth-skinned, succulent, and evenly cooked through.
An interesting method is that the chicken is plunged in icy water to “shock” the poultry. This cooking method results in a meat that is ‘crunchier’ and in a skin that is smoother.
What makes diners constantly coming back for more is essentially their signature dish Chicken Rice, all chunky slices of chicken meat served with a plate of flavourful yet surprisingly, not as oily rice.
Note: As per Sin Kee’s tradition, there is no soup served along with Chicken Rice. Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice (Holland Drive)
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Centre #01-10/11, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184
Tel: +65 9691 4852
Opening hours: 10am – 7:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice which is probably Singapore’s most famous chicken rice stall outside of Singapore.
The stall is helmed by Madam Foo Kui Lian and her children, and the business was initially set up by her elder brother.
Anthony Bourdain said that the chicken rice was so fragrant and delicious that it could be eaten on its own.
Gordon Ramsay took part in a “Hawker Heroes Challenge” and ‘lost’ to Tian Tian. (I use the word ‘lost’ loosely as it mattered just how the competition was carried out.)
The smooth slippery chicken pieces were a highlight, soaked in an ice bath prior for a firmer texture and to lock in the natural juices.
Tian Tian’s winning formula to me has to be its rice. I liked that it was generally warm, fluffy, and fragrant.
Tasty enough after absorbing flavours of the stock, and I could just eat it with the chilli sauce and garlic. But perhaps nicer in the past. Tian Tian Chicken Rice (Maxwell Food Centre)
Katong Mei Wei Boneless Chicken Rice or Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice
Katong Shopping Centre #B1-85/87, 865 Mountbatten Rd, Singapore 437844
Tel: +65 9789 6073
Opening Hours: 10:45am – 7pm (Tues – Fri), 11am – 7pm (Sat – Sun), Closed Mon
This stall hidden in the basement of Katong Shopping Centre is well-loved by the Easties for obvious reasons.
Other than being “Food King Good”, generous portions, the 2nd generation hawker is known to be an influencer with creative dances to ‘entertain’ customers.
It is hard to miss as over 75% crowd of the food court is at this stall alone.
A huge draw is in its portion size, the achar (love it with loads of pineapple) and that tasty cabbage soup served FOC. (I hear the soup ranges from pork ribs to peanuts, which is indeed substantial.)
The chicken itself was juicy and tender, tasted more delicious with the flavoursome sauce and fried garlic.
As for the rice, it would be a love it or so-so affair, as one would expect the grains to be more fragrant? But considering the overall package, its popularity is not without reason.
Islandwide delivery via https://katongchickenrice.oddle.me/en_SG/
Chin Chin Eating House
19 Purvis Street, Singapore 188598
Tel: +65 6337 4640
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
This no-fuss eatery located near Bugis is successfully running since 1934, and they offer a variety of authentic and delicious Hainanese dishes, including the famous steamed Chicken rRce with a great homemade dip and sauce.
The recipe is passed down from generations, and several of the dishes still taste quite old-school.
If you are ordering more, don’t forget about their Hainanese Pork Chop, Hainanese Mixed Vegetables aka Chap Chye, Hainanese Prawn Roll, Fish Maw Mixed Vegetables, and Black Pepper Beef.
The Steam Chicken Rice ($5) was lightly drizzled with aromatic sesame oil and soy sauce which really enhanced the flavors of the well-cooked and succulent chicken.
The rice was also cooked just right. I liked that it wasn’t too greasy and had a nice balance and fragrance from garlic and ginger.
[Closed] Yet Con Hainanese Chicken Rice
25 Purvis St, Singapore 188602
Tel: +65 6337 6819
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 6pm (Mon – Fri), 11:30am – 6:30pm (Sat – Sun)
Yet Con Hainanese restaurant used to be really famous, known for its old-school taste and nostalgic vibes (though standard hasn’t been consistent recent few years).
This is a small and unassuming restaurant at Purvis street that doesn’t seem to offer much at first glance.
Sometimes, simplicity and minimalism is better, as you can enjoy your meal in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. It is one of THE places to get Hainanese chicken rice in the area.
It is known for its “Tender Boiled Chicken with Chicken Stock Flavour Rice”, in which the chicken rice has homely flavours. Chicken meat was slightly above average in terms of tenderness to be honest.
Seems like more people head there for the Signature Chicken Rice Steamboat (serves 2) which comes with a generous serving of hearty chicken broth, along with seafood and vegetables plate that can be shared among two people.
The rice bowls can be ordered separately for $1.
Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice
Balestier Road, 399 401 & 403, Singapore 329801
Tel: +65 6254 3937
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 9:30pm (Sat – Sun)
Boon Tong Kee had quite a humble beginning, but is now a successful running chain with 8 successful outlets (Whampoa West Blk 34, 425 River Valley Road, 199 East Coast Road, 18 Cheong Chin Nam Road, Blk 233 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, Tampines Century Square, and Compass One Sengkang Square.
The flagship outlet at Balestier Road is the one listed with a “Michelin Plate”, serving as the prime spot to fulfill your chicken rice cravings day and night.
Opened till the late hours of 3:30am on most days, this is a perfect place for the night owls. Their menu is extensive and offers a variety of home-style Chinese foods besides Chicken Rice as well.
While the Chicken Rice ($19) is quite pricey, customers love their fluffy rice, chicken to their dipping sauce prepared to perfection.
I liked the light and fragrant rice that wasn’t too greasy and had flavours from the chicken broth.
As for the chicken, it was still slippery smooth and juicy, though I wished it was less bony.
Islandwide delivery via https://boontongkeedelivery.oddle.me/
Pow Sing Restaurant
59 Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555961
Tel: +65 6284 0800
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
The owners of this quaint and tasteful restaurant are Hainanese themselves, so you can expect authentic flavours from their menu.
It is successfully running since 1983, and has many loyal customers and fans at the Serangoon Garden area.
The food is reasonably priced, and there are many options besides chicken rice to choose from. However, I did hear they used to be better in the past – this I won’t know.
Their Hainanese Chicken Rice is priced at $4, while a Drumstick Rice is at $5.50. Affordable considering this is a sit-down restaurant. Service was quick.
The chicken was quite tender, while the rice wasn’t too oily or greasy, and had a mild scent and deep flavours from the chicken stock.
The ginger sauce and bright chili sauce offered a pop.
Islandwide delivery via https://pow-sing-delivery.oddle.me/en_SG/
Far East Plaza #05-116 , 14 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228213
Tel: +65 6734 0639
Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
This restaurant has a pretty convenient location, just a few steps away from the Orchard MRT station in the Far East Plaza. However, only those in the know would head up to Level 5 for this Chicken Rice.
It has a no-frills casual layout with simplistic décor, and is often packed during peak lunch hours.
If you want to avoid tediously long queues, try to make it there before 12pm. The large menu is stuck on a glass wall.
The Chicken Rice is quite reasonable priced at $4.50, and loved how tender and soft it was in texture. Enhance the flavours with some of the soy sauce, minced ginger and ‘power’ chili sauce.
Also try their Drumsticks ($5.50) and Salted Vegetable Duck Soup ($5) with homely flavours.
Nam Kee Chicken Rice
201 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574343
Tel: +65 6253 4502
Opening Hours: 10:45am – 8:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Another well-known Chicken Rice eatery with those nostalgic vibes, Nam Kee is popular among the Upper Thomson families.
Simplistic décor, old-fashioned booth and counter, nothing too elaborate.
Chicken dishes included Hainanese Steamed Chicken ($14 for half, $28 for whole), Roasted Chicken, along with gizzard or liver. Braised egg and rice are at an addition of $1 each.
The chicken meat had a strong garlic taste, and was not too bad. The rice was the weaker link, and perhaps lacked in the needed-aroma.
The highlight of the dish for me, was their chili mix that tied the whole dish together and gave it a delectable sweet-spicy kick.
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