I have been working at Singapore for almost three months now, and yet there’s not any blog posts on Singapore’s Chicken Rice. The reason is really simple, because most of the Chicken Rice I had here, whether Hainanese or not, were above average tasting at best – not really blog worthy. That was until I tried Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre.
For those who know Tian Tian, most probably you also know that it was visited by Anthony Bourdain before. Who’s Anthony Bourdain? Well he’s a well-respected chef from America who once tried Tian Tian’s Hainanese Chicken Rice and was very impressed with it. “Chicken Rice is so fragrant and delicious that it can be eaten on its own” – those were the words used by Anthony Bourdain to describe Tian Tian’s Chicken Rice.
Thanks to his praise, Tian Tian is now one of the most patronized Chicken Rice in Singapore. And check out the other awards won by Tian Tian too.
Knowing there’d be a long queue if I went during lunch hours, I chose to go at a rather odd time at 3:30pm. Still, I had to queue for 10 minutes before I got served. I had a large portion of Chicken Rice with drumstick and a wing added @ $5. I felt the price was reasonable and glad that they didn’t take opportunity on the fame they enjoy to charge more expensively.
First thing I noticed was each rice grain was cooked so separately. This is something you can hardly find in Malaysia, but very common in Singapore because of the higher grade of rice grains they use. Ours tend to be lumpy, sticky and sometimes mushy.
And true to Anthony Bourdain’s words, Tian Tian’s Chicken Rice is indeed very delicious and flavorful that it can be enjoyed even on its own. The rice’s firm texture played an important role too, giving it a nice biting sensation. Seriously, I did not expect rice could taste so good.
Tian Tian’s steamed chicken, on the other hand was great as well. Smooth, tender and succulent and drenched in some secret sauce that complemented the rice really well. By the way this was also the first chicken rice stall in Singapore I went that did not need any dark soy sauce, man was I glad.
The chili sauce was impressive as well, a bit sourish from the lime juice they used. But I preferred to have my chicken rice without any chili sauce, well maybe just a little to try. I wouldn’t want the chili sauce’s empowering taste to ‘spoil’ the already-awesome chicken rice.
Generally, I have to admit Singapore’s Chicken Rice’s rice is better than Malaysia’s because the main ingredient itself – rice is already of high quality. And I feel they do put a lot of effort in producing tasty, fluffy rice with separate grains.
But when it comes to the chicken, either steamed or roasted, I feel ours is better because of the ingredient too – free range chicken (kampung chicken) that has more tender meat.
And that brings me to think, how do you guys judge a good chicken rice? Do you judge it based on the chicken, or the rice itself? If only we can combine the best of both worlds, then it’d be the best chicken rice ever.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is by far the only chicken rice in Singapore that I feel is worth recommending to my Malaysian friends because it’s seriously good. The rest just pale in comparison. I just hope there are many more to come in my future search.
To go to Tian Tian, alight at Tanjong Pagar MRT and take the B exit to Maxwell Road. After you exit, walk towards your left direction pass the big red building. After the red building is a church, and Tian Tian is in a food court called Maxwell Food Centre on your right (opposite the church).
Maxwell Food Centre
1 Kadayanallur Street
(Closed on Mondays. Come before 7pm to avoid disappointments)