A trip to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without a taste of Singapore’s national dish – Hainanese Chicken Rice. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about digging into this simple dish of chicken and fragrant rice that has captured all our hearts.
Sadly, not all chicken rice dishes are created equal. In fact, there are quite a few different spins on this seemingly basic dish. From the dish in its most original form to creations like chicken rice risotto, here are Singapore’s many types of chicken rice, and places to try them.
The Original Singaporean-Style Chicken Rice
How it’s done:
The original version of chicken rice involves steeping chicken in boiling water and blanching until fully cooked. Soak it in cold water immediately to cool it down so the meat doesn’t continue cooking, but remains soft and tender. Instead of just water, the rice is cooked with chicken stock, chicken fat, pandan leaves, ginger, fried garlic and shallots. This myriad of aromatics is what gives the rice its distinct, complex fragrance that has taken the nation (and the world) by storm.
While seemingly simple, this dish is hard to perfect. Some places in Singapore however, have managed to fine-tune their recipes, attracting throngs of people hungry, eager customers daily.
Get a taste at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
One of the most popular Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls in Singapore, they’re known for their incredibly tender poached chicken and heavenly rice. According to Anthony Bourdain, the rice is “exceptionally fragrant and flavoursome” and “delicious even on its own”.
The owners don’t just sit back and bask in their glory either! Constantly improving and perfecting their already-amazing recipe, they’ve managed to rack up multiple awards over the years, including a Bib Gourmand. So, if you’re hankering for a plate of their chicken rice, be prepared to queue for it!
Find it at 1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre.
Click here for more information on Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice.
More Local Favourites
Other common renditions of chicken rice you’ll be able to find in Singapore are Soy Sauce Chicken Rice and Roasted Chicken Rice.
Soy sauce chicken rice is by braising chicken a soy sauce mixture. This way, the meat has the tenderness of poached chicken with the sweet and savoury flavour of soy sauce. Roasted Chicken Rice, as the name suggests, is traditionally made by roasting the chicken in a wood-fired brick oven. The fat drips off and caramelises, giving you crisp, crackly, and deliciously addictive skin.
Besides the usual sliced chicken and flavoured rice, this popular local dish also comes in the form of rice balls! Similar to Japanese onigiri, chicken rice balls are made by packing and shaping steaming hot chicken rice into spheres and then serving with sliced chicken. They’re not as widespread as your usual chicken rice, but we’ve found some shops that serve chicken rice balls!
Get a taste at Hainan Chicken Rice Ball
This traditional hawker stall opposite Sim Lim Tower has been operating for decades and radiates nostalgia. A set meal here includes two tennis ball-sized chicken rice balls, Hainanese steamed chicken, and braised pork belly. Wash it all down with a bowl of herbal tau pok soup that’s hot and peppery, reminiscent of bak kut teh.
Find it at 3 Dickson Road, Shin Boon Hwa Food Centre, Singapore 209530
Click here for more information on Hainan Chicken Rice Ball.
Michelin Starred Chicken Rice
Who would have thought our humble hawker centre favourite would make it to Michelin-star glory? This molecular gastronomy restaurant at Esplanade proves that with a few innovative modern touches, even the simples of local dishes can become exquisite delicacies.
Get a taste at Restaurant Labyrinth
At Restaurant Labyrinth, you’ll find chicken rice, but without chicken and rice. Say what? Chef-Owner Han Li Guang has given our local delight an avant-garde spin by extracting the essence of chicken rice and then packing the rich broth into a punchy cube with a texture resembling tofu. It is then served with soy sauce, spicy grated ginger, chopped spring onions, and slivers of cucumber.
Fusion Chicken Rice
If you are an adventurous eater, you’ll love what these restaurants have to offer. These creative chefs have given chicken rice an international makeover, fusing it with other cuisines!
Get a taste at Stateland Cafe
This hearty local-Italian Hainanese Chicken Rice Risotto comprises of soy braised chicken, ginger risotto, sriracha chilli vinaigrette, leafy vegetables, fried shallots, spring onions, and chicken skin to top it all off. It may be a modern take towards our iconic dish but it still retains the key flavours. The stock in the risotto has a gingery kick and the chilli vinaigrette imparts some heat. And of course, we never say no to some sinful chicken skin!
Get a taste at ROOST
Chicken rice and sushi all in one bite? Sign us up! These tasty morsels feature slices of their signature soy sauce chicken atop a small pillow of rice. The moreish teriyaki sauce glaze adds a final touch of Japanese flavour. Basically, everything we love about chicken rice and chicken teriyaki in one bite. Just one sushi won’t be enough!