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A Search For The Best Hainanese Chicken Rice

A Search For The Best Hainanese Chicken Rice

One of the things we fell in love with on our first visit to Singapore was Hainanese Chicken Rice, considered by many to be the national dish of Singapore. For those who haven’t heard of it, Hainanese Chicken Rice consists of delicately poached chicken and is usually served with several dips including chili sauce, pounded ginger and dark soy sauce.

We first tried Hainanese Chicken Rice at Tastes of Singapore on Sentosa Island and although it was touristy and overpriced, it was still extremely tasty.

Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Tastes of Singapore

But after our experiences eating authentic Singapore Hawker Food at Makansutra Gluttons Bay, we knew that there was surely better Chicken Rice out there.

And we were on a mission to find it!

Where To Find The Best Hainanese Chicken Rice In Singapore

Determined, we did plenty of online research looking for the best Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore. The popular opinion was that it was to be found at Tian Tian Chicken Rice located at Stall #10 at the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. Even Anthony Bourdain had eaten at the famous Tian Tian and highly recommended it!

“Chicken Rice is so fragrant and delicious that it can be eaten on its own”
- Anthony Bourdain

After a couple of failed attempts to visit Maxwell Road Hawker Centre due to pouring rain, we finally had a sunny afternoon to visit and get our Chicken Rice fix. We excitedly exited Tanjong Pagar MRT Station and started walking up Maxwell Road, reaching the Hawker Centre after about 5 minutes.

We searched around looking for Tian Tian Chicken Rice and when we finally found it, despair set in…

It was closed on Mondays… and today was a Monday!

The roller shutters were down and there was no sign of life anywhere around Tian Tian. Two doors down, we saw another Hainanese Chicken Rice stall at #7 called Ah-Tai that was open for business.

Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice

Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice

We approached Ah-Tai and ordered two dishes of Hainanese Chicken Rice and at the total cost of $6, we couldn’t go wrong even if it tasted horrible.

After finding an empty table, we finally were able to dig into our first taste of Chicken Rice in over a year… and it didn’t disappoint! Ah-Tai had served up some perfectly poached chicken that made our taste buds sing and both of us proceeded to essentially inhale what was before us.

Amy even finished her food before Kieron, an extremely rare occurrence. That’s how good this Hainanese Chicken Rice was – arguably the best in Singapore!

Amy with her Hainanese Chicken Rice

Amy with her Hainanese Chicken Rice

We later found out that Ah-Tai was opened by Wong Liang Tai, the ex master-chef at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice who worked there for 20 years. No wonder this Chicken Rice was so delicious! We’ll no doubt be back again soon enough and will have a very tough decision to make…

Stick with the proven Ah-Tai or give the more famous Tian Tian a try? Screw it, we’ll have both!

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

Address: 1 Kadayanallur St Singapore 069184
Opening Hours: Daily 8am – 10pm

There are a total of six Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre.


  1. Posted September 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Argh, why couldn’t we have been in Singapore at the same time? In the City Hall/Bugis area, I went to Chin Chin Eating House, also recommended by the Bourdain-ness (and by others, of course). Melt-in-your-mouth-chicken-rice-so-good-you-can’t-stop-eating. The service was a little huffy, but I understand and can speak Cantonese, and I wanted the rice, and so the rice I shall have.

    No matter, your post is making me very very hungry. :-)
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted..While in New Zealand, I …

    • Posted September 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      We would go back to Singapore just to have another serving of Chicken Rice! Every time we think about it we instantly get hungry.

      We’ll add Chin Chin is on our list for next time.

  2. Posted September 10, 2012 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Oh man, I LOVE chicken rice, they have it all over the place here in Bangkok too and it is my favorite go to meal when I am craving something different. That spicy sauce is to DIE for! Can’t wait to try it in Singapore one day :)
    Elizabeth recently posted..Frugal Friday :: fitness

    • Posted September 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      We still haven’t been to Bangkok so will definitely be keeping an eye out for it when we do get to visit (along with plenty of Green Chicken Curry, of course!). Yum! Would love to know how it compares to Singapore Chicken Rice when you do get to try it.

  3. Posted September 11, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Drool! This looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it when we make it to Singapore! Though if I’m honest, I have to admit that the food here in Hong Kong has been so great I am doubtful that anything can top it… We shall see! ;)
    Steph recently posted..Celebrating Obon in Matsushima

    • Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      You’ll know soon enough – got a feeling it’ll be right up there with what you’re enjoying at the moment! ;)

  4. Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like it was an epic quest, fraught with wild weather and other challenges. I, too, love the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre – but who wouldn’t… it’s great!
    Simon recently posted..5 amazing meals you must try in Thailand

    • Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      It was an epic quest, but someone had to do it and find the answers for the people! We’re disappointed that we only got to visit here once – I guess a sixth visit to Singapore is required so that we can go back again!

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