Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice - Singapore

Walk a few paces outside in Singapore and you turn into a hot, sweaty miserable mess. It's about then you wonder why anyone would want to live in a city with the climate of an equatorial swamp. Then you remember: it's the FOOD, stupid! And that's exactly why I went again to a place where eating is the national pasttime.

And one of the best things to eat is the beautiful plate you see above: Hainan chicken rice. This one comes from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is famous because Anthony Bourdain made it famous. Though I'm sure it was highly regarded among locals before the itinerant travel host came around, it's practically a national icon now.

I ordered it from the stall (which now occupies two spaces and has Anthony Bourdain's face on a poster) and when I did, one of the men took a bowl to scoop up rice from a repurposed 10-gallon cooler and plopped it to a waiting plate. Meanwhile his co-worker got to work with a cleaver chopping up the chicken. Shortly thereafter, my small plate of Hainan chicken rice (S$4) was assembled.

And was it glorious!

The rice was scrumptious, inexplicably warm despite where it was stored, but also rich, and as Anthony Bourdain said, worthy of a meal on its own. And the chicken, which is served cold, was moist, juicy, with its skin jellied--probably the best and most unadulterated piece of chicken I've ever had in my entire life. This was the essence of poultry purity.

Before I went to Tian Tian, I read that the original chef (the one featured in Bourdain's show) apparently had a falling out with the owner and quit to open his own shop a few stores down. But I couldn't not try Tian Tian. If I were in New York, I wouldn't not go to Kat's to follow the guy who used to make the pastrami...or would I?

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
1 Kadayanallur Street
#01-10 Maxwell Food Centre
(65) 9691 4852

KOC Crawfish - Garden Grove


At 8:17 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Just like a good shwarma, good hainan chicken can be difficult to find.

An option that's a little closer to home than trooping out to Singapore is hainan chicken restaurant in rowland heights (19255 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748) right next door to dolphin bay.

They've got two options, bone in free range chicken or bone out regular chicken. both are good.

Looks like you had a good time in singapore!

At 8:43 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I had a blast in Singapore! Shed about three gallons of sweat in one day, but otherwise happy that I was able to eat around town.

I agree that it's a challenge to find good Hainan Chicken Rice around these parts.

I think I might've tried that place in RH you mention. Need to go back again now that you're reminded me.

Usually, I default to Savoy Kitchen in Alhambra. Have you been there? What'd you think?

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Heh, that's why I simultaneously love and hate asia!

Definitely head over there and check it out, I think it's quite good although I've not been to Savoy Kitchen. Usually when I'm up in Alhambra/San Gabriel, I am too busy eating other Chinese food. Will certainly look to add it to my list though.

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks awesome.


At 9:48 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Oh man, was it ever! Wish our chicken rice was even half as good as this was!

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quick review just now on Yelp pointed me to Green Zone restaurant on Valley blvd in San Gabriel also have hainan chicken rice, soba noodle, gyoza, pasta dishes. Seems like a good place to try and comment.

At 5:17 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Good tip! Had no idea that place existed. Will definitely have to try it!


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