What Singaporean food trip would be complete without Hainanese Chicken? I know mine wouldn’t be so here, in the third and final installment of my Singaporean food exploration, let me introduce you to the dish that stole my heart. Tian-tian’s Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Hainanese Chicken Rice is a very simple dish. Attributed to Chinese immigrants from China’s Hainan Island, it’s a simple dish of poached chicken served with rice cooked in chicken broth that’s laden with ginger and garlic. Because there was four of us, we opted to get half a chicken and bowls of rice instead of ordering separate orders of Chicken Rice. Aside from the chicken and rice, we were given bowls of chicken broth and little sauce dishes of a zesty chili-lime sauce and a strong ginger puree.
How was it? Tender and flavorful chicken, fragrant, delicious rice, sauces that add an extra dose of zing—It’s a comforting meal that fills you with warmth and honest-to-goodness love. Tian-tian’s Hainanese Chicken is included in the Singapore Tourism board’s listing of highly recommended Hainanese Chicken places. Judging from the long lines of well-dressed office workers queued in front of the modest looking stall, you know that the recommendation is not just for show.
Aside from the yummy, unforgettable Hainanese Chicken (it really stole my heart <3), we also had some bokchoy in oyster sauce. It was a nice complement to the chicken, with the veggies being only slightly cooked leaving it with a nice, refreshing crunch.
We also tried Laksa, a rich, coconut based noodle soup, strewn with seafood and fishcake. I like the heady, rich flavor of the laksa but honestly, I was so bowled over by the Hainanese Chicken that I wasn’t able to do the laksa justice.
(Something I’m sure khursten will flog me for.)
Another local delicacy I got to try was the Chwee Kueh. A classic Singaporean snack, this dish is made of little steamed rice flour cakes topped with pickled radish that’s fried and braised with lots of chopped garlic and soy sauce. It’s served with a side of chili sauce for extra flavor but personally, I find the topping already packs a tasty punch against the relatively bland cakes.
At most hawker centers and food courts, they usually have stalls that specialize in all sorts of drinks. The one at Maxwell Center had all sorts of freshly prepared juices, canned drinks and other specialties like Soya milk and Jelly-based drinks.
I tried and thoroughly enjoyed the lychee drink. It reminded me a lot of the Almond Jelly and lychee desserts served in local Chinese restaurants.
Visiting Singapore was an eye-opening experience for me. Not just because I saw a lot of different places and got to experience how things are run in a country not my own, but also because of the wide variety of tastes and textures I was able to try. I know I haven’t tried even a fourth of what Singapore has to offer so I really would like to come back and taste even more dishes I haven’t tried but one thing’s for sure. My feet will find their way back to Maxwell Center for a bite of Tian-tian’s Hainanese Chicken.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Stall 10 Maxwell Road Food Centre
Maxwell Food Centre
Maxwell Road, a 5-minute walk from Chinatown MRT Station (NE4)