Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭)
Nam Kee Chicken Rice & Restaurant
201 Upper Thomson Road
Details up to date as of Aug 2012
My Singapore Food Trail posts have more or less ground to a halt. But since I’m back home for a short visit, let me share a signature hawker dish.
As you can see from the old watermarks, these photos were snapped early last year, but I just did not have the time to push them into a post until now.
Let’s not go into the the conundrum of where’s the best Hainanese chicken rice (海南鸡饭) in Singapore. Just yesterday, dad finally declared that:
“There’s no such thing as the best hawker food place in Singapore nowadays. Everywhere is so competitive and the quality so good that the differences are very fine now. And each family has their own favourites”.
As a family, we enjoy frequenting this old-school, air-conditioned shophouse Kopitiam (Coffeeshop) along Upper Thomson Rd. It’s a nicer setting than your usual one-plate chicken rice dish in a congested food court or hawker centre.
I’ve lost touch with my family’s food jaunts (and the new places they go to) since I’ve been away for so many years, but this place holds strong nostalgic triggers for me. The same gruff and proudish service from the dimpled guy, aged by the decades of working there… the sounds of the eatery, the coloured melamine plates and chopsticks… and the sallow fluorescent lighting…
And here you are… Hainanese Chicken Rice cooked and served the exact way it’s supposed to be, with the right dizzling oil, chilli sauce, and accompanying soup.
The fried bean sprouts with salted fish here is a good supporting dish for the meal… with a fresh crunch, an almost palpable wok hei (charred flavour), and plenty of umami.
I remember when I ate here last, I was puzzled as to why all the dishes tasted on the bland side. There was a silent pause, then mum told me to taste the food again…
Truth is, my palate had been dulled by the often over-seasoned food in Melbourne. I let my mind reset its taste settings, paid more attention to each bite and sip, and the flavours I remembered came through.
What an awful picture, showing the terrible mess mum, dad and I left behind. But that was just pure lunch satisfaction! =)
If you’re interested in learning more about Hainanese chicken rice, then my Melaka food post on Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball (a delicious variant) will give you good explanation.
And if you want to cook it, here’s a pretty easy to follow recipe!