This is the first blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013.
Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.
We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.
It’s 6.30 am and dawn at this hour is still dark in Singapore.
Mysaucepan is fast asleep but I find myself on a treadmill set at an inclination slope of 10 as I furiously race towards the finishing line in this hour-long workout. I am totally drenched, sweat streaming down my body and as I watch the news on CNN in front of me.
Dominating the headlines is news about how Barack Obama is trying to steer America out of an impending fiscal cliff. Important as this event may be as it affects the entire world, something else is on my mind.
As I look out the window from the gym where I am working out, I see Maxwell Food Centre, home to what is arguably the best Hainanese chicken rice in the world. And the main reason for my intense workout this morning is to get myself ready for an onslaught on this plate of chicken rice that has been on my mind even before we left Sydney yesterday.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of many food stalls in Maxwell Food Centre but is also the most popular among locals and tourists alike.
The chickens are said to be specially sourced from selected suppliers and a special cooking technique renders the chicken to be very smooth, succulent and tasty.
Anthony Bourdain has raved about this place when he visited and I am certainly raving about it.
Indeed, I have never failed to make a visit to Maxwell every time I am in Singapore because it is a hawker centre that has such a wide selection of local street food and favourites.
I have read the owner also ensures fresh red chillies and ginger that are used to make the delectable chilli dipping sauce are also specially procured from selected suppliers to guarantee a very high and consistent quality.
This chicken rice stall runs like a well-oiled factory churning out a singular product that really hits the mark with chicken rice connoisseurs and aficionados.
There is a queuing system because when peak hour for lunch arrives, the queue for this chicken rice is legendary – a giant human snake that meanders the corner of this stall to the outside of Maxwell Food Centre.
Therefore, it is best that you go before the crowd arrives. If you think you might be lucky to avoid the queue by going after lunch, you may end up with nothing because the chicken rice sells out every single day they are open for business.
Orders are taken and paid at one booth and you proceed to the next area to collect your food.
Today, I am here at 11 am to avoid the mad rush during lunch hour and I am among the first in line.
My usual order is half a chicken and one bowl of chicken rice. This order comes with a large bowl of soup as well.
The chicken looks magnificently succulent with a thin layer of gelatin between the skin and the meat, rendering it soft and velvety.
I am not a big rice eater but who can resist after reading Bourdain’s verdict on this chicken rice?
The rice is fragrant with the aromas of chicken broth and each grain is fluffy yet firm to the bite.
The chicken is chopped and prepared with the bone on and part of the fun is to navigate each piece of chicken meat around the bones with your teeth.
Each piece of chicken is tasty with the chilli sauce that is flavoured with fresh ginger and garlic. The sauce that is drizzled over the chicken is savoury redolent of oyster sauce, soy sauce and the nutty flavour of sesame oil.
This is our first day in Singapore and I’m not about to blow my calorie count with chicken fat. Unless it is roast chicken, I prefer not to eat the skin and fat.
With so much food around, it’s best to pace ourselves over the next few weeks as we take you on our food trail all over Singapore and Malaysia.
So dear readers, do you have a favourite Hainanese chicken rice stall in Singapore to recommend and share with our readers?
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Stall 10/11, Maxwell Food Centre
Tel: + 65 9691 4852
Business hours: Every day, closed on Mondays
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