With the shortage in supply of fresh chicken, one of Singapore’s most iconic hawker dishes has become the talk of town again – Chicken Rice, and more specifically Hainanese Chicken Rice.
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.
Check out the following 20 stalls and restaurants serving delicious Hainanese Chicken Rice:
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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.
Read more at: 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 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.
Read more at: 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.
Read more at: Tian Tian Chicken Rice (Maxwell Food Centre)
Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Centre #01-07, 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore 069184
Opening Hours: 11am – 7:30pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
The 5 minutes mini-food documentary from iPhone focused on the ‘Chicken Rice War’ between the two stalls there – Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Ah Tai was once the long-time head chef over at Tian Tian Chicken Rice, and went up to set up another chicken rice shop just 3 stalls away more than a decade back.
Ah Tai’s menu is still kept lean and pretty-affordable, with poached Hainanese Chicken Rice priced at $4, $5, and $6.
Other offerings include Chicken Feet ($5), Chicken Parts named “Visceral” on the menu ($3), Oyster Sauce Vegetables ($4, $6), and Bean Sprout ($3, $5).
The chicken considered fresh and succulent, but I thought the chicken at Ah Tai could do better with more flavours – slightly muted and needed some chilli to ‘lift’ it up.)
As for the chilli sauce, Ah Tai’s tasted spicier with an appetising kick.
Read more at: Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice (Maxwell Food Centre)
Katong Mei Wei 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.
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 flavours 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.
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.
Ming Kee Chicken Rice
511 Bishan Street 13, #01-522 Kim San Leng Coffee Shop, Singapore 570511
Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
Talk about Bishan’s Kim San Leng kopitiam and its most famous stall has to be Ming Kee Chicken Rice, having been round for more than 50 years.
However, you would notice one apparent difference when you eat their chicken meat – it is chilled.
They are kept in ice bath after being steamed. This helps to seal in the flavours, and keeps it slightly juicy and fatty layer gelatinous.
The rice was fluffy, delicately flavoured and not too greasy.
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.
333 Orchard Road, #05-03, Singapore 238887
Tel: +65 6831 6291
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sun)
During the 80s, Chatterbox was the name that came to mind for one of the top Chicken Rice in Singapore, and the hefty price tag back then has always been contentious and much talked-about.
I suppose the signature Mandarin Chicken Rice ($25 for individual set, $38 for Half Chicken, $72 for Whole Chicken) is the must-order here.
Using only chickens that weigh around 2kg each, Executive Chef Liew Tien Heong incorporates a different method of ‘steam-cooking’ (instead of poaching) so as to render consistently succulent chicken.
A drizzle of a lightly-seasoned jus helped enhance the sweetness and flavour.
To be honest, the chicken meat itself wasn’t as spectacular as what I remembered it to be, and a regular Chicken Rice eater could probably possibly rattle off a few places that may serve ‘better-tasting’ renditions.
Read more at: Chatterbox (Hilton Orchard Singapore)
Read more at: Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice (Tampines)
Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant
101 Thomson Rd, #01-08 United Square, Singapore 307591
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
For lovers of Hainanese Chicken Rice, Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice founded in 1987 by the late Mr Wee Toon Ouut needs little introduction.
For individual diners, you can go for the Steamed or Roasted Single Chicken with Rice, Vegetable Set, Dumpling Set, or Vegetable & Dumpling Set. (Prices differ depend on which outlet ordered from.)
If you come in a group, available are the Quarter Chicken, Half Chicken, or Whole Chicken.
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.
Best dipped in the accompanying chilli sauce and ginger.
My favourite part was the fluffy rice, with pandan fragrance and not too greasy.
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, The Star Vista etc)
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.
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.
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.
Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Tiong Bahru Market #02-82, 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Tel: +65 9750 9846
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice is located at the popular Tiong Bahru Market at 30 Seng Poh Road, though there are stalls of the same name at Chinatown (56 Smith Street) and Changi Village (5 Changi Village Road) operated by the owner’s brother.
You can also find outlets at other kopitiam in Singapore, but most still come to the original outlet at Tiong Bahru.
The stall which has opened since 1988, serves up Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice ($3, $4), Roasted Chicken Rice ($3, $4), Lemon Chicken Rice ($3, $4), Soya Sauce Vegetables ($3) and Bean Sprouts ($3).
Compared to some of the more famous brands, the chicken here takes up a more muted slant.
The chicken meat was smooth, not too oily, still somewhat juicy but would have preferred plumper pieces.
The fluffy rice cooked with chicken stock, garlic, spring onions, ginger and onion, also had a more subtle taste, less oily than the average stall, but one wonders if there could be more depth in flavours.
Read more at: Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Loy Kee Chicken Rice
342 Balestier Road, Singapore 329774
Opening Hours: 10am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Loy Kee has been one of the names synonymous with the famous local Hainesese dish.
With an amazing heritage and reputation since 1953, it was once voted as the Best Chicken Rice in Singapore in the 1990s. You can also find a stall at Whampoa Makan Place operated by another family member.
Get the Loy Kee Special Set ($9 onwards) which come with chicken, vegetable, rice, soup, and a trio of sauces.
The chicken meat was not bad being thin and tender with a slight touch of oil and succulence though could be more flavourful; while the rice is slightly on the dry side and I would prefer it to be a tad oilier.
They use an organic soya sauce brewed with a secret family recipe, while they use hand-cut chillies and chicken fat for the chilli sauce.
Five Star Kampung Chicken Rice & Kitchen
191 East Coast Road Singapore 428897
Opening Hour: 11am – 2am (Mon – Sun)
With outlets at 191 East Coast Road, 419 River Valley Road and 7 Cheong Chin Nam Road, the well-known Five Star Chicken Rice uses kampung chicken in their preparaion, for more fork-tender and succulent chicken.
These free-range chicken are also known to be less in fat and rich in flavour, paired with house-made chilli and ginger sauces.
Xing Yun Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice (幸运海南起骨鸡饭)
Yuhua Market & Hawker Centre #01-202, 347 Jurong East Ave 1, Singapore 600347
Opening Hours: 7am – 2pm (Thu – Mon), Closed Tues, Wed
The line can go on a loop during lunch time; and while closing hour states 2pm, most of the chicken parts can be sold out by 1pm or so.
My friend mentioned he has had this dish since childhood (when it was $2), a stall that can affordably appease hunger without skimping on flavours.
The price starts from $3.50 per plate of basic Chicken Rice, with more elaborate choice of Chicken Drumstick & Wings with Rice at $5.60.
If you come with a partner and want more meat, get half a chicken for $12 and 2 plates of rice for $1. Or a whole chicken at $24; with add-ons of liver, gizzard or egg at $0.50 each portion.
The chicken is supposedly steamed, served in succulent deboned slices. They serve the prized meat over a fragrant pool of sweet savoury brown sauce. You can tell it has soy sauce, sesame oil, and a sweetener.
Also came with a slice of pineapple and tomato, perhaps to help cut through some of the greasiness.
Ji De Lai Hainanese Chicken Rice
Chong Pang Market & Food Centre #01-152, 105 Yishun Ring Road, Singapore 760105
Opening Hours: 8am – 8pm (Mon – Sun) (Chong Pang closed for renovations)
In terms of the best Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore, the name Ji De Lai Hainanese Chicken Rice at Chong Pang Food Centre may not ring that much of a bell especially if you do not stay around Yishun.
The stall is found right smack in the middle of a super-crowded food centre with narrow walking paths that would require some patience navigating around.
The basic Chicken Rice starts from $3.50 per portion, $4.80 for Chicken Drumstick Rice. There are also plates for 1 pax ($4.50), 2 pax ($9), and 3 pax ($14).
Accordingly, Ji De Lai procures chicken which weights at least 2 kg, fed with corn (so that it is richer tasting), cooked with a later of gelatine just below the skin.
While I wished the roast chicken to have more crisp-thin golden skin, the meat was surprising succulent and rather flavourful.
Read more at: Ji De Lai Hainanese Chicken Rice (Chong Pang)
Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice 良海南鸡饭
20 Shunfu Road, #02-22 Shunfu Mart Food Centre, Singapore 570320
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm (Mon – Sun), Closed Mon
While Shunfu Mart Food Centre may not be that talked about, Chicken Rice fans do head there for Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice. In fact, this was once listed as “Top 5 Chicken Rice Stalls” by The Straits Times.
Helmed by Mr Neo Cheng Leong, the stall serves up affordable plates from $3.80, with Chicken Drumstick or Wing Rice at $4.50. You can also top up with chicken organ or braised egg for $0.80 more.
Half a chicken is at $14, while whole is priced at $27.
While the chicken was considerably moist, my favourite components were the flavourful rice and power-packed chilli.
Fun fact: The hawker at Ah Keat Chicken Rice, Bt Merah Central Food Centre is Mr Neo’s apprentice.
Hoe Kee Kitchen 和記雞飯小厨
Jurong West 505 Market & Food Centre #01-39, Blk 505 Jurong West Street 52, Singapore 640505
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 3pm (Mon), 10am – 6pm (Tues – Sun)
Perhaps not many noticed that Hoe Kee Kitchen 和記雞飯小厨 at Jurong West 505 Food Centre known for its Steamed Chicken Rice has been included in the Michelin Guide Singapore with a Michelin Plate.
With inflation and increasing ingredient costs, it is so difficult to find $2 Chicken Rice in our hawker centres, so kudos to them.
Half a Chicken cost $11, while a whole is at $22.
Starting with the rice, it was flavourful, in fact tasty enough to eat on its own.
Though I wished the grains were cooked fluffier and softer, as they could be on the drier side when you compare to other good Chicken Rice stalls.
The chilli sauce with a strong garlicky taste and slight zesty enhanced the overall flavours.
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