With literally hundreds maybe thousands of food stalls in Singapore I suppose it’s up to me to try them all. After being here a few months there are two certainties for folks living or visiting in Singapore, good eating and good shopping. Singaporeans are also not shy about telling you about their favorite eating locations or about how they think you should eat their favorite dishes.
My first stop, after some
research watching the travel channel before landing. No Reservations, one of my favorite shows did a show on Singapore and visited a few locations, one being Maxwells Hawker Center. For those unfamiliar, a Hawker Center is a huge food court on steroids, the closest thing I can relate it to is a trade show where there are row after row of vendors trying to get you to try their food. Maxwell’s is located in the middle of Chinatown across from the Buddha Relic Temple, which is a whole other must see all together, and free.
It was pretty obvious which stall Tony visited, the one with his face plastered all over it, shameless advertising to draw the crowds that I’ve come to admire. The lines are 30 people deep and wrapped around a corner most days, depending on when you go. Even with it being common to queue for pretty much anything in Singapore this was one long ass line. Tain Tian is famous for it’s chicken rice, plain and simple. Chicken rice is so commonly eaten in Singapore it’s considered the national dish and you can find it just about anywhere. While the title of “best chicken rice” is well debatable, the line for this joint obviously says something. We picked up a half a chicken, some veggies, soup and of course some chicken rice. The warm chicken was steamed on a bed of crisp cucumbers, the veggies were also steamed with light coating of oyster sauce. Looks are deceiving. For a pretty plain looking dish this chicken rice stuff is pretty amazing. Our group is pretty loud and outspoken, especially when it comes to food. So when we were silent for a good 15 minutes because we were shoveling our faces, that says something.
I later found out that the rice is so flavorful and it’s all because of the preparation. This is no 15 minute rice that you can just throw in a pot and walk away. It’s actually a time honored process of cooking the chicken, collecting the fat and chicken awesomeness and marrying that with the rice. Aside from the steamed chicken and rice they also give you a variety of sauces and chili peppers. Which I’ve been told by several several different people how to mix and match while eating your meal. Sufficed to say, do whatever you want and I bet it’ll come out tasting amazing.
Tian Tain Hainanese Chicken Rice, pretty damn awesome. Tomorrow’s a new day… and a new meal.