Friday, June 03, 2011

40 hours in Singapore - 3 Hainanese Chicken Rices

Yet Con
I found it pretty amazing that I managed so much on my 40-hour trip to Singapore without feeling physically disgusting or even having to pop any PPIs. This post is about the three chicken rices I had over two days (for other stuff, like a bak kuh teh I never thought I'd like but ended up loving, see here).

Yet Con
25 Purvis Street
+65 6337 6819

Chicken - Yet Con
I wanted to come here on my last visit, but arrived too late (8pm). This time, I came at 3pm. Believe it or not the restaurant was still 40% full.

The chicken here was slippery, slightly waxy and bouncy - probably poached in a rich consomme of sorts. It was very good, and best out of the three I tried this trip, but it wasn't the best chicken I've ever had. In fact, I've never had Hainanese chicken that has really knocked my socks off. Maybe I'm just spoilt by the intense flavours of steamed Chinese free-range chicken, or simply more used to it. Food has such a classical cultural conditioning component to it that we all seem to forget when we're talking up "best" lists and the like. Anyway, I digress (way too early in the post!).

Barley drink at Yet Con
Yet Con's sauces
Standard sauces and a disappointing barley drink (weird syrupy taste).

Rice and soup - Yet Con
Decent rice and soup, nothing much to say - neither were bad but there was nothing standout about them.

Wee Nam Kee
275 Thomson Road, Novena Ville
+65 6252 9858

Chicken at Wee Nam Kee
This is their white chicken - if you like fat & jelly, this is for you. Perhaps this was what kept it more hydrated than the Yet Con chicken. This was more a wet & slippery variety (I personally prefer a greater "chew" factor), but quite tasty nonetheless. Something makes me think this was also a frozen chicken though, or at least not a free range one that sat around and got horribly fleshy and fat.

Then again, I know a lot of people appreciate fleshy chicken and think chicken should be fleshy. Each to their own. I like bones and I think less flesh means more flavour (for simplicity's sake, let's say the "amount" of flavour per chicken is constant, so if you increase mass, you'll decrease flavour per bite/cubic cm - of course flavour isn't constant, but if you know of a big fleshy chicken absolutely packed with flavour, we need to talk).

Roast chicken at Wee Nam Kee
The roast factor makes everything more intense and interesting for the palate I suppose. This was good, same wet quality as the white chicken.

Sauces at Wee Nam Kee
Grated ginger rather than a sauce - I don't know what's 'authentic', but anything that maximises ginger content is good by me. The chilli was relatively fluid, similar to Yet Con's.

Rice - alarmingly large grains! But other than size, little to report. Deeper soup than the usual savoury dishwater variety.

Barley drink - Wee Nam Kee

Pretty decent barley water. A bit too sweet for me still. For the record, the best I had this trip was a Founder bak kut teh.

Whampoa Nan Xiang
Blk 90 #01-21
Whampoa Hawker Centre
86 Whampoa Drive (just off Balestier Rd)

Chicken - Whampoa Nan Xiang
It was at Nanxiang that I started to wonder what really matters in a chicken rice. I was always under the impression that fantastic chicken was a prerequisite in a chicken rice - and only after that do you go on and ponder the rice, sauces and soup. I'm not afraid to say that this chicken was a limp, chalky, tasteless mass of protein (not the sauce, the quality of the chicken itself). With rice so exemplary, it was a real shame that this chicken was so below average, yet Nanxiang is often considered one of Singapore's best. So I guess I had my priorities all wrong...?

Whampoa Nan Xiang
As I said, the rice was terrific. Fluffy and dry, and almost crisp (like the bits stuck on the edges of claypot rice) and al dente, with a good toss of ginger. The chilli was also superb - I think they blended it with some lime juice.

After these 3 chicken rices, my ideal would be Yet Con chicken + Nan Xiang rice and sauces + Wee Nam Kee's soup. That said, the only thing that truly knocked my socks off was Nanxiang's rice & condiments. YC's chicken was better than the rest, but still not wow.

Of course, there are plenty I haven't been to, like Five Star, Boon Tong Kee and so on, and suggestions for my next Singapore eating marathon would be much appreciated, as are your views re: what's important in a chicken rice. I know Singaporeans are really passionate about their food, so I'm looking forward to some "omigod you ignorant fat brainless brat, what do you know about chicken rice? "Indeed I don't, so please enlighten me :)

Yet Con

View e_ting in Singapore in a larger map

Wee Nam Kee

View e_ting in Singapore in a larger map

Whampoa Nan Xiang

View e_ting in Singapore in a larger map


  1. I have a feeling Singaporeans/Malaysians are probably quite different to us Hong Kongers when it comes to chicken rice preferences too!

    Wud love to know what they think as well! Reminds me of HK vs Japanese ramen expectations. Hard to judge!

  2. Fleshy flavourful chicken are creatures of unicorns.

  3. HKE - yep, just like Chicnese vs Italian expectation of rice too hahaha

    Rachelle - only chickens aren't as pretty hehehe

  4. Anonymous11:38 am


    thanks for the info on the claypot rice!

    next time u come to Singapore again, try Tien Tien chix rice at Maxwell. i just had chix rice too today, not so bad as i ordered salted veg soup to go with it. :)

  5. Stumbled upon your blog. Love your take on food and your writing style.

    Didn't spend more time looking on your blog but surprised if you have not had Tian Tian @ Maxwell Food Centre. Great rice. In the same tier as Nanxiang. Decent chicken, good chilli sauce. A winning overall combination. Nanxiang has a branch on Tanjong Katong Rd, which is nearly another great chicken rice joint in the basement of Katong Shopping Centre. Convenient if you are on a chicken rice eating spree.

    The chicken part of Hainanese Chicken Rice equation, to me, is not as important as the rice. Not a big fan of bland white boiled chicken. Some do make it better than others, e.g Tian Tian's chicken > Nanxiang's. But it's the overall combination of chicken, rice and a good chili sauce that will hit the spot for me.

    Five Star, Boon Tong Kee... bleh.

  6. i'm salivating reading this post. i usually go to boon tong kee which is good, but largely over rated. grew up in serangoon gardens, so grew up on the famous pow sing chicken rice, and i also like tientien chicken rice from maxwell. Although it's the giant curry puffs I really dig from maxwell market!!!

    There's another variation of ginger chicken rice @ soup restaurant, it's a samsui woman recipe. you eat it wrapped in a lettuce, but the chicken is really really tender and good.

    ironically, i have never tried any of the 3 places u've been, so shame on me and will go there next trip home!

  7. Anonymous2:52 am