Singapore is very well known for their Hainanese Chicken/ 海南雞飯. They just call theirs “chicken rice.” In fact, I’ve heard more about Singapore’s Hainanese chicken than the Hainanese chicken from Hainan. Singapore has even made chicken rice one of their national dishes. Chili crab is another, but I can’t eat that. I originally got wind of this particular place from Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” that I was watching on my way to Hong Kong. All I remembered was the name of the stall [most of the best food aren't set up in actual restaurants], but nothing else. Luckily, I picked up a Singapore guidebook in Hong Kong and what did they suggest? The chicken rice hawker stand! And thus, I had an address.
BTW, Chinese guidebooks are the best guidebooks. I barely read Chinese as it is, but they are plastered with pictures on every page so you’re really looking at visuals to figure out what you want to do. Prices are a universal language, and addresses are always in the local language anyways, so you can point and ask the concierge how to get to a certain place. The American guidebooks may be more comprehensive in giving essential information [ex. hotel recommendations, emergency numbers, etc]. Also, it helps to know where and what you want to eat when you’ve seen pictures of your choices. There are also Chinese guidebooks that are dedicated just to food, which is right up my alley.
Anyways, back to the food.
So, the first day the boy and I landed, we made our way to 天天海南雞飯 (literally: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice). We lived in Clarke Quay, which is pretty much the epi-center of all that is Singapore, so we were really close to my chicken rice man (yes, that’s what I call him). My book told me they close at 6PM, and we got there maybe around 5 or 5:30. They were already closed! I was crushed! They ran out of chicken. Knowing that they open at 11AM, I camped out the next morning. We got there a little before opening, and there was already a line forming! I was neither surprise nor deterred.
hey chikadees, are you ready to go in my tummy?
the two man team
One of the other non-food things that I like about Singapore is that Chinese is one of their national languages, so I can speak to anyone. Sadly, that didn’t help too much. I ordered two large chicken rices and a small order of kailan (greens). Instead, I got the opposite: 2 small rices and a large order of greens.
chicken rice comes with chicken soup
too hungry to get a real close-up
The special thing about the chicken rice here that differs from the chicken rice elsewhere is their flavorful rice. It’s not the typical special oil rice or coconut rice, instead, the rice is infused with chicken broth. Before handing the plate to the customer, the chef would ladle and drain scoops of broth onto the whole concoction so there’d be even MORE flavor. Don’t worry, the rice doesn’t come out too soggy. The chicken itself is soo tender and moist, it was awesome! It’s the consistency where you could swear that the chicken may be undercooked, but when you check, it’s not. It’s a miracle. can add some chili sauce to your chicken or some thick soy sauce. I think the soy sauce is something like this. It’s the only type of soy sauce that I saw served in Singapore. It’s definitely something I’m not used to.
my spot on the line- before they officially opened!
I’m the one looking at the camera
The small chicken and rice dish was $2.50S and a large one is $3S. The large kailan was about $5S. The exchange rate when I was there was about $USD to $1.34 SPD.
I tried coming here one last time. They didn’t appear to be open at 11AM and there was no line. We thought they were closed. We came back once more before we had to leave for our flight that day at about 3PM and it looked like they were just closing. I was devastated! I had missed it… again! Woe is me.
Next time, it’ll be a personal goal to eat here more than once.
P.S. Everyone speaks English here too.
Tian Tian Hainese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Center
Hrs: 11-6 or until they run out.