Singaporeans love their chicken rice, considered by many to be the national dish of Singapore. This simple dish of boiled chicken and rice can be found at hawker centres and restaurants all across Singapore.
Exactly who serves the best chicken rice in Singapore is up for debate. Everyone has their favorite. My favorite is Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, a famous hawker stall at Singapore’s Maxwell Food Centre.
There may be no other hawker stall as well known as Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. Locals, tourists, food bloggers, guidebook writers, and celebrity chefs have visited over the years. This includes Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay. The Michelin Guide has gave Tian Tian a Bib Gourmand recommendation.
Plastered on the windows of the stall were reviews, magazine articles, and images of those celebrity chefs who have visited before.
The one that stood out the most was the quote by the late great Anthony Bourdain. On his visit, he stated that the “chicken rice is so fragrant & delicious that it can be eaten on its own.”
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is the most popular hawker stall at Maxwell Food Centre. It is also one of the most popular hawker stalls in Singapore.
You can always expect a line. The line often wraps around the corner. No need to worry though as the line moves fast.
I recommend visiting during off off-peak hours. This includes before 11:00AM, midweek, or between lunch and dinner. When they sell out of chicken, they shut down for the day, so go earlier than later.
Another reason why the line moved so fast was the army of workers operating the stall. Everyone was responsible for a certain task. This included cooking the chicken, plating each dish, or taking orders.
Streamlined was how I would describe their operation. Order at the first window on the right and pick up your plate at the second window on the left.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice Menu
If you are visiting for the first or fiftieth time, you are going to want to order the chicken rice. The chicken rice was available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. I would usually go for the large, but I wanted to leave room to try foods at other stalls at Maxwell Food Centre.
Furthermore, there were other items on the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice menu. You had more chicken options, rice, vegetables with oyster sauce, and beansprouts with or without cuttlefish. I hope to try some of these one day.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
The signature item was none other than the Hainanese Chicken Rice (S$5 or about $3.67). I went for the medium portion but there was also the option of small or large.
To create the perfect chicken, the chefs began by boiling whole spring chickens in water. The chicken was then placed in an ice bath. The cold bath ensured the chicken would be moist and tender while separating the skin from the meat.
The chicken was tender and moist. Cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. It was served at room temperature, so don’t be surprised by this. The texture of the chicken was smooth, almost sticky. I enjoyed how each piece did not fall apart like shredded chicken.
On my visit, I was disappointed by the lack of chicken skin. There was literally no skin. On past visits, each piece of chicken was covered with a thin layer of gelatinous, shinny skin. The silky soft texture of the skin might not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it in the past. If you are expecting a crispy skin, you will be sadly disappointed.
Hidden under the chicken was a mound of what appeared to be simple white rice. Looks can be deceiving. Thick grains of rice were first sauteed in garlic, sesame oil and chicken fat. The rice was then boiled in chicken stock. This process resulted in a fluffy rice that was both aromatic and flavorful. Anthony Bourdain was right.
On the Side
Drizzled over the sliced pieces of chicken was a mixture of soy sauce and oyster sauce. The salty, rich sauce infused more flavor into the dish and complemented the aromatic rice and spicy chili sauce.
On the side were a few slices of cucumbers. Though simple, I enjoyed mixing the fresh, crunchy cucumbers with the tender chicken with its gelatinous skin.
Served on the side was a spicy and tangy red chili sauce. The bright sauce was a concoction of chopped chilies, garlic, lime juice, and chicken stock. The sauce left a good burn in my mouth. A hint of sweetness and sourness from lime juice balanced out the flavors. I was dunking the chicken, rice, and cucumbers in the sauce. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was amazing, I wish there was more of it.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice might be the most famous hawker stall in Singapore, but I can’t answer if it is the best. In my opinion, it is not. But that doesn’t change the fact that the chicken rice served here, though basic, was delicious and cooked well. I think everyone should try Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at least once for their moist chicken, aromatic rice, and spicy, tangy red chili sauce.
- Considered by many to be the best hawker stall in Singapore
- Perfectly cooked moist chicken
- Tangy, spicy, sweet chili sauce
- Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recommendation
- You can always expect a line
- The stall often closes early when they run out of chicken
Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00AM - 8:00PM (or until they run out of chicken)
Maxwell Food Centre
1 Kadayanallur Street #01 -10/11, Singapore 069184
GPS Coordinates: 1.280521,103.844807