After the 5-in-1 multi-brand Hainanese restaurant in Hillion Mall, The Hainan Story is opening its 2nd outpost at Hotel Boss along Jalan Sultan. Official opening date is this Friday, 16 April 2021.
It is of short walking distance from Lavender MRT, quite near to the hip Jalan Besar area.
Good news for both early risers and supper-goers, The Hainan Story is a 24-hour concept with brand-new offerings.
They call this the “instagrammable coffeehouse”, branded like a Singapore-style cha chan teng serving comforting Hainanese-style favourites.
There are colourful splashes of red and green, tables done in the traditional kopitiam fashion, and a feature wall tiled to look like a Hainanese stage opera for #OOTD at the back of the restaurant.
There are 7 brands under this umbrella, including The Hainan Story Bakery, The Hainan Story Coffee & Toast, Newspaper Hainanese Curry Rice, Uncle Robert Hainanese Western & BBQ, Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice; along with new concepts of Jin Jin Golden Porridge and Whole Street White Kway Chap.
What I was looking forward to most are the NEW items of Swiss Rolls and Cookies by ex-Antoinette Chef Pang Kok Keong, along with grilled dishes by ‘God of Kitchen’ Chef Austen Ong. Here’s more:
The Hainan Story Bakery
British Hainanese Swiss Roll ($12.80 per roll, $3.80 per slice, available till 5pm daily or sold out)
For those of you familiar with Antoinette, then you would know Chef Pang Kok Keong has certain ‘magic’ working with desserts and pastry products.
There are five Swiss Rolls available here, with flavours of Hainanese Coconut Pandan Roll, Premium Belgium Chocolate Roll, Premium Old Tree MSW Durian Roll, Sea Salt Gula Melaka Kaya Roll, and Nanyang Yam Orh Nee Roll.
Most are priced at $12.80 per roll, except the MSW at $28.80 (and $6.80 for a slice). The shape and appearance may just remind you of the other famous brand, and so comparison is inevitable.
My favourite was the Hainanese Coconut Pandan Roll (reminding me of a Kaya Roll) with soft pillow-like outer layer and creamy fudgy centre that was not too sweet. Great to pair with a hot kopi.
The other attention-catcher was the Premium Old Tree MSW Durian Roll with creamy filling and light tinge of blue on the sponge – courtesy of blue pea flowers.
Traditional Asian-Inspired Cookies ($12 or $13 per jar)
While CNY may be over, these delectable cookies still work for gifts or when you are craving for nibbles.
Also brought to you by Chef Pang, the five offerings are Hae Bee Hian Cookies, Ondeh Ondeh Cookies, Chocolate Snowballs, Cashew Nut Biscotti, and Hainanese Kopi Guyou Cookies.
Go for the orange Hae Bee Hiam Cookies which had a delightful and distinct spicy-sweet savour of housemade hae bee hiam (spicy shrimps); and melt-in-the-mouth Hainanese Kopi Guyou Cookies made using the house coffee powder served in The Hainan Story.
The Hainan Story Coffee & Toast
Bagel Spam & Egg Burger ($5.80 ala carte, $7.30 set with Kopi or Teh)
While they call this a “bagel”, there was some old-school Hainanese flavour with the bread. I found out that the bread is sourced from traditional Sing Hon Loong Bakery at Whampoa.
Eat this like a sandwich, with spam luncheon meat and choice of sunny side up or scrambled egg.
Gula Melaka Kaya with Butter Toast ($1.80 ala carte, $4.80 for set)
Instead of the usual thin flat options found elsewhere, this breakfast toast takes the form of a pillow-soft bun lightly toasted – with a slight crust yet remain fluffy on the touch.
Kopi Gu You ($1.80 for Kopi, $1.60 for Kopi O, $2 for Kopi C, $0.60 add butter)
“Bulletproof coffee” has become rather trendy these recent years, but the Hainanese have their own form of “Kopi Gu You” which has been in Singapore coffeeshops since the 1930s.
Get your Kopi, Kopi O or Kopi C with butter (additional $0.60). Adding butter gives the kopi a more aromatic and full-bodied, along with a texture that goes down very smoothly. Or for those on keto diet.
Hainanese Yuan Yang Satay with Peanut Sauce & Pineapple Sauce ($15.00 for 10 sticks)
Of all the newly-introduced savoury dishes, this would be my go-to. The satay skewers are available in pork and chicken options, and I enjoyed the chicken for that tender bite, along with slight smoky char and lovely spiced flavour.
This is then to be dipped into a mixture of peanut and pineapple sauce, though I would have preferred if the proportion of the peanut could be brought up.
Ah Kor Hainanese Lamb Stew ($11.80 with Rice, $12.80 with Crispy Noodles)
A comforting stew of spar ribs cooked in claypot with spongy tau kee beancurd, black fungus, carrot and broccoli.
The mixture of herbs and spices including star anise, shallots and preserved beans imparted a fragrant aroma. Choose to have this with rice ($11.80) or with crispy noodles ($12.80).
Claypot Prawn with Glass Vermicelli in Green Chilli Chicken Broth ($14.90)
Green chilli food items seems to be getting ‘IN’ of late, found in Chicken Rice (recently trending again) and Crabs.
This is the first time I have seen it cooked with whole prawns and glass vermicelli in a chicken broth base. Overall on the spicier side, I wished there could be some sour notes and better balance and to further bring out the wholesome goodness.
White Street Hainanese Kway Chap
The Hainanese Claypot Braised Pork Belly Set ($13.80)
They call this “White” not because of the kway but because the base is a light version cooked with chicken and pork white broth. I did wish there was more body, to better complement the sheets.
The other part was quite sumptuous though, a claypot of Hainanese braised pork belly with black fungus, bean curd stick and lava egg done ramen style.
The pork was not too fatty, yet the slow-braising made the piece immensely-soft, with robust savoury flavours.
Uncle Robert Western & BBQ
Hainanese Father-In-Law’s Banana Leaf Grilled Stingray ($18.80)
You don’t often find BBQ Stingrays in restaurants (usually in hawker centres), and so was surprised to find this here. The man behind the grill is Chef Austen Ong who spent 16 years with the Grand Hyatt group as chef de cuisine.
Do be prepared to wait for a while, as you get is a juicy and rather ‘meaty’ slab of Stingray (about 200g) served on banana leaf.
The star to me was the housemade sambal, with that slight dried-shrimp taste that worked wondrously with that smoky char.
Hainanese Fried Pork Cutlet Coated with Potato Chips Crumbs ($15.80)
The pork loin is marinated in a special mixture of celery, carrot, spring onions and seasoning to better bring out its natural flavours.
The pork came in a rather huge slab, even good for two to share; served with corn kernel salad and onion rings. Choice of traditional brown sauce or white BBQ sauce.
Old English Oxtail Stew ($18.80)
Braised for hours with fresh tomatoes, spices and onions, this classic comfort dish features succulent meat paired with house-made mashed potatoes.
Newspaper Hainanese Curry Rice
Mama Wee’s Hainanese ‘Kou Rou’ Set ($8.80)
There are five sets to choose from, priced between $7.80 and $9.80. The main ingredients in each are the Curry Chicken Drumstick, “Kou Rou” (pork belly), Fried Pork, Prawn Fritters and Crispy Fried Silver Dory Fish.
All sets are accompanied by freshly steamed rice, prawn crackers, sambal tempeh, sambal belacan and your choice of a homemade vegetable and egg dish.
This is the most popular of the lot, featuring tender braised pork belly.
Nanyang Flavour Fried Chicken Drumstick Set ($7.80)
The Hainanese curry was light and complex; overall the sauces were not the rich and gooey kind, and I wished there was more so that the rice grains would get ‘drenched’. The sambal chilli belacan with the punch was the other highlight.
Jin Jin Golden Porridge
Pork Meat Ball Trio Egg Pumpkin Porridge ($9.80, served with crispy fried golden ‘you tiao’)
NEW to this concept is Jin Jin Golden Porridge, and you may wonder about the golden-yellow hue.
Rather than pumpkin slices, you get the addition of pumpkin puree, which includes that sweet nuance throughout the nourishing bowl.
For egg lovers, this comes with a trio of salted egg, century egg, and egg, plus hand-kneaded pork balls. A heart-warming bowl best to have early mornings or cooling suppertime.
Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice (available 7am – 10pm daily)
For individual diners, you can go for the Steamed or Roasted Single Chicken with Rice ($5.20, $5.70 for drumstick), Vegetable Set ($7.50), Dumpling Set ($8.30), or Vegetable & Dumpling Set ($10.90).
If you come in a group, available are the Quarter Chicken ($8.90), Half Chicken ($17.20) or Whole Chicken ($34.40).
The fresh chickens used are simmered in premium chicken bone stock along with a selection of ingredients at a carefully controlled temperature, so that the poached chicken is more succulent and flavourful.
The Hainan Story – Hotel Boss
500 Jalan Sultan, Hotel Boss, #01-09, Singapore 199020
Opening Hours: Open 24 Hours Daily (except for Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice 7am – 10pm daily; Swiss Rolls till 5pm or sold out Official opening date is this Friday, 16 April 2021.
The Hainan Story – Hillion Mall
17 Petir Road, #01-15/16 Hillion Mall, Singapore 678278
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 9.30pm (Mon – Sun)
* The entry is brought to you in partnership with The Hainan Story.