Hainanese chicken rice is the chickeniest chicken dish one can find in the chicken-eating world. Don't believe me? Picture this: sitting in front of me at the Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore's Chinatown was a tray filled with a pile of boiled chicken, a mound of rice cooked in chicken broth and a small dipping bowl of chilli sauce infused with - yes, you guessed it - chicken. And just to out-chicken every other chicken dish on the planet, the ensemble included a bowl of chicken soup. I figured I'd probably be clucking by the end of the meal.
I specifically came to Maxwell to eat at 30-year-old food stall Tian Tian (1 Kadayanallur St), a spot renowned for its Hainanese chicken rice that has gotten praise from the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay. Just as I was about to shove spoonfuls of delicious-smelling food into my mouth, the owner, Madam Foo Kui Lian, wandered over.
She explained that Hainanese chicken rice, one of Singapore's national dishes, is deceptively simple - which is good, because on paper it sounds awfully boring.
But you just have to try it when you're in Singapore. I combined delicate pieces of chicken thigh - which had a thin layer of gelatinous fat between the skin and meat - with ginger-and-lemongrass-fragrant rice and chilli sauce, and then took a bite. The flavours set my taste buds ablaze with delight.
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