Restaurants / Bars

Steal or Splurge, Hungry Wanderer Edition: Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Chatterbox in Singapore

June 27, 2017

We cannot visit Singapore without having their famous chicken rice, though if you have yet to visit Singapore you’ll quickly find out that chicken rice refers to two very different dishes: “white” chicken (poached), or “black” (roasted). The former is what we are focusing on today, as the Hainanese-style poached chicken is considered Singapore’s national dish.

Tian Tian Chicken Rice

Regarded by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain as one of the best cooked chicken in Singapore, the humble hawker stand of Tian Tian (like most food joints Tito Tony publicly praises) shot to fame and is on many food tourists’ lists of places to visit while in town. It takes up the space of 2 hawker stands in the Maxwell Food Center near the Chinatown train stop.

We visited just before dinner when the lines were generally short everywhere, and though Tian Tian’s stall was slightly busier than most, we did not have to stand in line long to receive our waiting number. And once we received the dish, we must admit that it certainly was one of the most tender chicken rice meals we’ve had in Singapore.The sauce had a milder taste than we hoped for, and there was weirdly no skin on the chicken, which was a disappointment. Admittedly, the rice could have been more moist (it was dry and crumbly) and fragrant, the chicken was the clear star of the show.


Located in the building of a fancy hotel, in one of the busiest (and most touristy) parts of Singapore, Chatterbox is a world away from the hawker experience. It is lauded as having one of the best chicken rice meals in town, and at SGD27 for the meal, we thought it damned better be. Thankfully, the dish (whose size was good for two) lived up to expectations.

We received an incredibly tender, fatty, fall-apart cut of chicken (with a healthy dose of chicken skin!), flavored subtly in its own broth with a touch of soy sauce. It was served with the three sauces we are used to receiving at restaurants with any chicken rice dish: the thick brown sauce, the chili sauce, and the ginger (which is often missing from fast food joints and hawker stalls). The crumbly and fragrant rice was made better with a touch of the broth, that had tofu and fish flakes to give it a salty finish.

Bea Osmeña SEE AUTHOR Bea Osmeña

Bea Osmeña is a healthy-ish eater who is just as likely to take you to a vegan joint as she is to consume a whole cheese pie to herself. A former picky eater, Bea has discovered the joys of savory fruit dishes, but still refuses to accept pineapples on her pizza. On the rare occasion you catch her without food in her mouth, you are likely to find her looking at books she can't afford, hugging trees, or talking to strange animals on the street.

2 comments in this post SHOW

2 responses to “Steal or Splurge, Hungry Wanderer Edition: Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Chatterbox in Singapore”

  1. Cecille says:

    The best Hainanese chicken I’ve had so far was in a restaurant in a mall along Nathan Road in Hong Kong. The mall connects via a walkway to Mira Hotel where we stayed. We were eating the dish throughout our stay -5 days- we became acquainted with the restaurant owner. The dish was so perfect. Nothing compares.

  2. Jeff says:

    Tian tian’s quality have detwriorated over the years…

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