Tian Tian Chicken Rice, Singapore

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As anyone who’s visited Singapore would know, we’re pretty well-known for amazing and affordable hawker fare, and Chicken Rice is one of the dishes which tops the list. It sounds like a simple dish – just chicken, steamed or roasted, patted atop a dome of rice – but that is exactly why this dish could be easily underrated by someone who didn’t know better. #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184 Tian Tian Chicken Rice is situated on the left most row of the Maxwell Food Centre when entering from the main entrance, and will be easily spotted due to the queue that trails in front of it almost every hour of the day. However, they are very quick and one never has to wait that long. Ambience is typical of Singapore’s hawker centres, where there are many stalls selling a variety of local fare at affordable prices, operating in a very casual no-frills canteen concept. Damage: $ With a plate of chicken rice priced about $4 or $5 (if you ask for more chicken), and vegetables priced around $3 to $4, you get incredible value here. We had a feast (see feature picture) on just $16. A great option for travellers on a budget! To go: Yes! If you’re in southern Singapore / Near Maxwell Tian Tian’s is a hainanese chicken rice, and is also the one Singaporeans are proud of for having won the cook-off against celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in a publicly held tasting and vote in 2013. The chicken is smooth and the skin is silky, and unlike other hainanese chicken rice sellers, Tian Tian does a slightly thicker sauce instead of the usual light soy-sauce seasoning. Everyone would notice that Tian Tian’s chicken rice is particularly noteworthy – each and every grain remains intact, and coated over with the tastiness and aroma of natural chicken oils. They were extremely generous with the vegetables too, and they were cooked perfectly with good bite and delicious oyster-sauce flavours, and daym is that chilli spicy! Tian Tian Chicken Rice is a great choice for anyone who’s in the southern parts of Singapore (Tanjong Pagar, Duxton, Chinatown, etc.), but elsewhere, there are other great choices too, such as Boon Tong Kee at Balestier and one of my all-time favorites, Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice at Raffles Place.

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Singapore

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Category: Singaporean – Hawker Centre

My favourite go-to food centre in Singapore, Old Airport Road Food Centre has some of the best of Singapore’s most popular dishes and is highly revered among Singaporeans. While these are familiar dishes to the locals, I figured it would be helpful to write a little for friends from overseas coming to visit, and since I was at Old Airport Road Food Centre for lunch on Sunday, that’s exactly what I did.

19 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390019

Located in the vicinity of Mountbatten and Geylang, Old Airport Road Food Centre is a two-storey stocky-looking building situated in a relatively open space, painted in bold colours of yellow, blue, red and green (I know…), with a carpark on one side and a few residential buildings by it’s front. Any taxi driver would be able to take you, and if you’re coming by the MRT (i.e. train), the closest station would be Mountbatten.

Damage: $

It’s the foodie’s heaven, with reasonable prices ranging from $3 for pie tee to $5 and up for noodle-dishes. When you come, I can almost guarantee you’ll be hypnotised by the delicious wafting smells and will want to try everything – in which case… maybe I should increase the damage to $$.

To go: Of course! (Is this a trick question?)

No reservations about it – if you want to have an authentic experience amongst locals and try some of the best of Singaporean cuisine, this place should be at the top of your list.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

This review will consist of a few sub-reviews.

Kangkong Jiu Eng Cai, $3, and Pie Tee, $3 (Feature picture, from left to right)

Kangkong Jiu Eng Cai is a dish made from kangkong (a kind of long skinny vegetable), and jiu (cuttlefish), which often features cucumber, pineapple cubes and beansprouts. This dish uses cured cuttlefish, which I didn’t like because of its translucent agar-like texture, but the sweet prawn paste sauce with chilli and peanuts was fantastic – light, tasty, and yet full of flavour. Our favourite stall for this dish faces the front of the food centre, and has a purple sign with red chinese words together with white words announcing “Homemade springroll, springroll skin”; if you look carefully on the right, it says “Fortune Food” in english.

Otak-otak, 80 or 90 cents each

Crab otah singapore food review old airport road

Look at the crab flesh embedded inside! Otak-otak is traditionally a grilled “fish cake” made from fish meat, tapioca starch and spices, wrapped in banana leaves and speared with little toothpicks at the ends to keep them intact when grilled over the fire. Now, otak-otak has expanded to a wider variety of different fillings to include crab. The one from Lee Wee Brothers is very tasty and generous with the meat, and also is just nicely toasted, unlike some places which overdo it until it chars.

Char Kway Teow, $3-$5

Char Kway Teow Singapore's favourite dish Revew

Ah, Singaporeans absolutely love their fried kway teow. Also known in the local dialect as “char kway teow“, this dish is a stir-fry of flat rice noodles, with beansprouts, slices of chinese sausage, egg and cockles in a chilli and soy-sauce based sauce. Lao Fu Zhi has one of the best char kway teows around – it’s situated along the middle aisle and always has a queue. The noodles are well coated with a thin flavourful sweet-savory layer of sauce, and with eggs deliciously stir-fried into it. Watch for when the man himself is handling for the wok, because he does it best.

Another Singaporean favourite is Hokkien mee, also known as fried prawn noodles. While I didn’t have it this time, you should be sure to give it a try and the one at old airport road food centre is very good.

Other dishes to try

roasted chicken wing singapore food review

While you’re there, have the roast chicken wings with the local chilli sauce from Tong Kee Charcoal BBQ as well – freshly roasted until the skin is golden and crispy, while the meat remains tender and incredibly juicy (careful – the juices will flow out!). Also try some local desserts like Tau Suan (essentially a sweet soup made from split mung bean) and sesame paste (picture below, left to right).

tau suan sesame paste old airport road singapore food review

Kim Heng HK Roasted Meat, Singapore

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Category: Chinese – Hawker – Roasted Meats

My colleague and friend has been raving about this place for weeks on end, and so I finally made my way down on a Saturday morning to give it a try. Before going, I did a quick search which yielded Kim Heng as the “Best all rounder” in an article by the Straits times on the best roasted meat stalls, and so I went with high hopes.

Block 214 Serangoon Avenue 4, 01-88, Tel: 6283-3695, Opens 8.30am to 7pm daily

Situated in a clean coffeeshop at the corner of the ground floor of a HDB block facing the Serangoon Stadium, Kim Heng HK Roasted Meat is easy to find and can be seen from a distance away; even before lunchtime, a long queue of customers would have formed, cutting right across the path.

Damage: $

It’s roasted meat after all, and in a coffeeshop, so it can’t (and shouldn’t) be that expensive. That said, it’s steeper than some of the other places I’ve been, but that could be because we ordered ribs in the mix. It came up to about $14 for each of us, for a platter of mixed meats and 2 small soups to share 3 ways.

To go: Perhaps, if you’re in the area

I’m personally not convinced that this is the best all-rounder for roasted meat in Singapore. It was okay; nothing really special if you ask me, and unfortunately not as mind-blowing as my friend made it out to be (I mean, when he was describing it to me, he really went all out with the expressive hand gestures to accompany the mouthwatering descriptions in addition to a look of bliss). The sio ba (roasted pork belly) was better, but I remain a skeptic about whether this place warrants the queue and the hype.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

I cut through the building, entering from the side of the carpark, and straight away saw the long line to my right. My friends had recommended going just before 11.30am when, from experience, a freshly roasted batch of sio ba would be ready and displayed alongside other tantalizing meats, ready to be devoured.

Kim Heng HK Roasted Meat Serangoon SingaporeWe ordered a mix of char siewxio ba, ribs and roasted duck (feature picture). The char siew (roasted pork slices) was average – way too fatty and not as caramelised on the outside as would be ideal. There were little tasty bits here and there, but nothing came close to the char siew I’d had at this place called Sun Ming in Cheras, just a little way out from Kuala Lumpur – which, to date, still stands as the best I’ve ever tasted.

The sio ba was springy and the skin was lightly crisped, but I found that it was not exceptionally fragrant although on the plus side, it wasn’t heavy from overused oil which is a common mistake. The ribs were a disappointment – there was very little meat, and it wasn’t particularly tender. If you go, I’d recommend you save your rib fix for another day at some place else like Morganfields which has the ultimate sticky bones.

And so my search for the best roasted meats in Singapore continues. If you have any recommendations, please do let me know – I’d really love to hear all about them!

Kim Heng Roast Meat Serangoon Singapore