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Singapore Must Eat: Hainanese Chicken Rice

Updated on November 17, 2015
Hainanese chicken rice at Chatterbox, Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Singapore. At S$30 with tax and service, this is probably the most expensive chicken rice in the country! Credit: Jpatokal  Wikimedia Commons
Hainanese chicken rice at Chatterbox, Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Singapore. At S$30 with tax and service, this is probably the most expensive chicken rice in the country! Credit: Jpatokal Wikimedia Commons

Commonly found in Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is one of the many local delights that you must try when visiting the sunny island. This savory chicken and rice dish has its origins, from Hainan, China. Although this dish can be also found in Malaysia and Thailand, each country has its own distinct flavor. The Singapore version is influenced by the Hainanese and Cantonese style of cooking, combining culinary preferences in the Southeast Asia region.

How it is cooked

The chicken is prepared using traditional Hainanese methods, which in involves boiling an entire chicken along in pork and/or chicken stock, or the chicken may be boiled in water with garlic and ginger added. After the chicken has been cooked, it is dipped into ice water, to produce a gelatin like finish to the chicken’s skin.

As for the rice, it is cooked with chicken stock or the water in which was used to boil the chicken. This would result in glistening grains of rice that is flavorful, and slightly oily. The chicken is then chopped and is served with sliced cucumbers and an assortment of sauces ranging from sweet dark soy sauce, chilli, and pounded ginger. One way of eating the sauces is to mix all three (sweet dark soy sauce, chilli, and pounded ginger) and place them either on the rice, or dip in a piece of chicken. Another way would be to try the sauces individually.

Chicken Rice Variations

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A typical presentation when you order from a hawker centerChicken rice with side dish of prickles (a.k.a achar)Another option, just as yummy - roast chickenSome food courts might separate your chicken from your riceUsually when you have more than one person and want to share, the chicken (usually half or a whole chicken) is chopped on a communal plate.The takeaway option, with your bag of chili and dark (sweet) soya sauceRoast and steamed chicken side by side
A typical presentation when you order from a hawker center
A typical presentation when you order from a hawker center | Source
Chicken rice with side dish of prickles (a.k.a achar)
Chicken rice with side dish of prickles (a.k.a achar) | Source
Another option, just as yummy - roast chicken
Another option, just as yummy - roast chicken | Source
Some food courts might separate your chicken from your rice
Some food courts might separate your chicken from your rice | Source
Usually when you have more than one person and want to share, the chicken (usually half or a whole chicken) is chopped on a communal plate.
Usually when you have more than one person and want to share, the chicken (usually half or a whole chicken) is chopped on a communal plate. | Source
The takeaway option, with your bag of chili and dark (sweet) soya sauce
The takeaway option, with your bag of chili and dark (sweet) soya sauce | Source
Roast and steamed chicken side by side
Roast and steamed chicken side by side | Source

Often considered as one of the “national dishes” of Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is often served at international expositions and global events abroad, and in Singaporean-run restaurants overseas. It is also one of the few local dishes served on Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights.

Hainanese chicken rice stalls are commonly found in Singapore: ranging from hot and crowded hawker centers and coffeeshops, to air-conditioned eateries, restaurants and “Kopitiams”. Some stalls may also offer side dishes such as chicken feet, vegatables, soup, tofu (fried beancurd) with sweet chilli sauce, and a whole lot more… Most stalls usually will have more than one variety of chicken such as roast chicken, and the usually “white chicken”.

Some examples of Hainanese chicken rice stalls which have established branch outlets or franchise are Boon Tong Kee, Tian Tian, Five Star Chicken Rice, and Loy Kee. Chatterbox coffeehouse at the Meritus Mandarin Singapore, in Orchard Road, is one place that sells the more renowned high-end version of Hainanese chicken rice. Of course, if you were to go into any coffeshop, foodcourt or eatery, the chicken rice is just as good.

The price of this wonderful dish depends on where you have your meal, it may be a little as S$2.50 to as much as S$15 (or more) per person, which is still affordable and worth the money. So don’t forget to try this dish if you ever are in Singapore!

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    • icepricessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Abigail Zhu 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      It is one of my favorite foods too :)

    • profile image

      chickenricesingapore.com 

      6 years ago

      hainanese chicken rice is always one of my favourite food, i cant live without it.

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