Steal or Splurge, Hungry Wanderer Edition: Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Chatterbox in SingaporeJune 27, 2017
- Bea OsmeñaWords
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.