The Singapore Report – Hainanese Chicken Rice

I set foot in Singapore at 1:30PM, a full three hours before Char and my friend Daryl were set to arrive. It was past lunchtime, I was starving, and the idea of walking around looking for holes-in-the-wall to eat in excited me. The sun was hot, the air was stuffy, and Singapore city was beautiful.

I climbed down the hill that our hotel was perched upon (I’m not kidding), walked ten minutes to have my dollars changed, and took a few more steps down to find exactly what I was looking for.

I have loved Hainanese Chicken Rice since I was a child, and was delighted to find that the world-famous Wee Nam Kee opened a branch at nearby Alabang Town Center early this year. Wee Nam Kee had expanded to a worldwide franchise, having started as a small joint in Singapore.

Their chicken rice was delicious. However, as with any mega-expanded former-hole-in-the-wall, there were few things lacking in the way of… authenticity. Of course, I admit that it must be difficult to maintain a genuine Chicken Rice place atmosphere inside a shopping mall in the middle of the city metro. But it was the little things that I missed, like having a bottle of HOISIN sauce alongside the ginger and chili, instead of the more popular soy sauce.

Needless to say, one of my “missions” upon traveling to Singapore was to find a place similar to what Wee Nam Kee used to be: a hot, busy, hole-in-the-wall Hainanese Chicken Rice place.

So I climbed down from our little mountain and walked and walked and walked until that fateful moment that I found Sing Ho Hainan.

I found it.

The smell of chicken rice permeated through the open air. Waitresses in orange were busy running around taking and delivering orders. And on the table was a jar of ginger, a tub of chili, and… HOISIN sauce in a squirt bottle. No Kikkoman in sight.

It was about as authentic as any Chicken Rice place I’ve ever seen.

At one point, the cliché fat bald sweaty Chinese chef stepped out to grab a beer. Legit.

No soy sauce in sight!

I ordered their basic chicken rice meal, which included a choice of white or roasted chicken, a cup of chicken rice, wanton soup, and some vegetables.

The chicken appeared as if there was a lot left to be desired. Specifically, the skin. It was meat from the breast, with only a tiny sliver of skin over the first three slices. If I hadn’t held off on judging the place, I would have been disappointed.

Until I took a bite. And another. And another, with more ginger, some chili, and hoisin. And a spoonful of rice. And another bite, another spoonful, more chili, another spoonful, another bite.

I have had Chicken Rice my entire life, but I think I had just had the best in the world.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Meal

The white meat of the chicken was so tasty, it matched the best hainanese-cooked chicken thighs I’ve had. The hoisin sauce, mixed with chili and a lot of ginger, was divine. And the rice (the rice!) was… perfect.

I wolfed all of this down in less than ten minutes, and I was hungry for more. I ordered some more rice, a serving of white chicken, and… hainanese-cooked chicken liver.

Yes. Liver.

Hainanese chicken LIVER, and white chicken

At this point, I think, my brain exploded. If the pleasure center of my brain had pants, they would be wet. With sheer delight.

The almost-bitter umami overload of the liver served as an extremely seductive foreground to the flavors of the chicken breast. It was difficult to have more than a small piece with each bite–the ginger infused-liver flavor was so powerful, so packed in volume with its flavor. A small piece of liver, with a slice of chicken, covered in ginger, chili, and hoisin, on a spoonful-bed of rice, was enough to make me roll my eyes to the back of my head.

It was that good. And it was only my first meal in Singapore.


2 thoughts on “The Singapore Report – Hainanese Chicken Rice

  1. Pingback: The Singapore Report – Everything Else « Hurry up the Cakes

  2. kim mijares dy says:

    Hi mikey, this inspired me to finally go to sg. I remembered this now that i’m here. Where is this exactly pala?:)

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