Nothing is more Singaporean than chicken rice, the country’s unofficial national dish. What seems like an incredibly simple concoction often leads to downright ugly debates about which is best.
To settle the question once and for all, we combed the internet for suggestions and sent our Review Crew out in our car (courtesy of ComfortDelGro Rent-A-Car) to the five most recommended chicken rice joints in the country.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
We braved the queue at Maxwell Food Centre for the only chicken rice place to ever be awarded a Michelin star. At $7.80 for a large serving, their steamed chicken (they don’t do roast) was moist and not too pink, and the rice had a really good and unusual salty flavour. Truth? It was fine, but not any better than any other hawker – though you might like to go just to cop a mouthful from the gruff auntie.
Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice
With four outlets in Singapore, we chose the one at United Square, an air-conditioned sit-down spot packed with hungry Singaporeans and very few Westerners (us). This place was good, with the roasted version more flavoursome than the steamed version. For $7, you get a full set that includes lots of condiments, a lovely broth, crispy kai lan and lovely, fluffy rice that has a slight twinge of ginger flavour.
Boon Tong Kee
Since 1979, chicken at this air-conditioned sit-down restaurant has been known for its thick layer of fat on top – or collagen, as they call it. If you’re not a fan of fat, it may sound icky, but trust us, it gives the chicken a lovely, juicy flavour. Then they pour a signature sauce over the dish at the table and it all combines for a great meal. An order will set you back $5 and each bowl of truly yummy rice is 80 cents. Out of the eight outlets, we chose the one on Balestier Road, with a real charmer for a waiter.
Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice
Just across the street, we tried the oldest of the spots, first established in 1953 by the current owner’s grandparents, straight off the boat from Hainan. They’ve enclosed the original sidewalk restaurant in glass, which gives the air-conditioned restaurant a nice, airy yet authentic feeling. The presentation of the $9 sets was downright gorgeous, with yummy homemade sauces, a delicious broth and crunchy kai lan. Both the roasted and steamed chicken were darn good, too.
Kampong Chicken House
Though this spot on Upper Thompson was highly recommended by several people, we’re not sure why. While the $9 chicken was quite juicy and succulent, the rice was very plain and the soup was downright bad; plus, there was absolutely no atmosphere other than bulldozers across the street. Our suggestion? Skip this place.
Who won our taste off?
For that nibble of info, you’ll have to check out our video below.
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This article first appeared in the February 2019 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!