Some of the best dishes I’ve had were among the simplest in terms of the list of ingredients used. When done well by the masters, these ‘simple dishes’ can be among the tastiest you ever had, and they highlight the flavor of the main ingredient. One of such dishes is a dish that is so popular in Singapore among the locals and visitors that it’s often considered as ‘the national dish of Singapore,’ the Hainanese chicken rice.
The Hainanese chicken rice is essentially boiled chicken served with rice steamed with chicken broth. It was originated from the Hainan province in China (thus the name), but it’s quite popular in Southeast Asian countries.
For me, this dish is one of those things that evoked childhood memories. I don’t remember much from my toddler days, but one thing I remember was having lunch at my aunt’s home and being served boiled chicken with chicken broth and steamed rice. Very simple dish, but it’s one that highlights the chicken flavor very well. It’s also meaningful for us as we heard stories from my aunt and my dad about having this dish for special occasions when they grew up, as their family was poor and couldn’t afford to buy chicken meat frequently.
During our short stop in Singapore, I wanted to try out the Hainanese chicken rice dish there. One of the stalls at the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre near Singapore Chinatown happened to be a famous place to get Hainanese chicken rice, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall. This was the place visited by Anthony Bourdain to have his Hainanese chicken rice dish in his Singapore episode of No Reservations.
We stopped there for early lunch before going back to the hotel to head to the airport. Since it was still pretty early, there was no line yet at the stall, and we were able to get our order quite quickly. The food was good and lived up to the high expectations, though unfortunately we had to eat quite quickly as we’re running late to head to the airport for our flight back to Indonesia.
Here was the Hainanese chicken dish from Tian Tian, just before we consumed it in minutes. It’s really good, and definitely highly recommended.