When my TV show “Foodprints” visited Singapore, a representative of the Singapore Tourism Board showed us around and brought us to places I’ve never been to.
We went to various stalls that served Singaporean specialties such as bak kuh teh, hokkien mi, sate, pratta, Indian spicy noodles, laksa, char kway teow, chendol, ice kachang and, of course, Hainanese chicken rice.
We went from one hawker center to another. It can be very confusing especially when you walk in hungry. If the place is unknown to you, it’s hard to pinpoint where to buy from. The trick is to look for the long lines and that’s where you cue in.
One place that serves very good Hainanese chicken in the Lion City is in Tiong Bahru, an old public housing estate-turned-hip destination for its cafés and hawker stalls.
One of the most popular restaurants in Singapore is Boon Tong Kee. I remember watching the chef expertly debone a whole chicken until it was all meat, neatly sliced and ready to be served. Very impressive.
Boon Tong Kee opened a franchise in the Philippines but it didn’t do well. I guess the chicken here and in Singapore are not the same. The chicken in Singapore is bigger, yellowish in color and has more fat.
The ones who make very good versions of Hainanese chicken rice with sauce in Metro Manila are Stevie of Bel-Air, Makati (tel. 0906-5084155; 0917-5783843) and chef Jyn (0917-5280563). They are perfect for a group of four to five, or for potluck gatherings. Stevie also makes Vietnamese spring rolls, while Jyn does Mediterranean chicken. Both are highly recommended.
Near the Mall of Asia is a new place, Met Live Mall, where you can find Tiong Bahru Boneless Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Met Live Mall is so new that it still has many empty stalls.
We ordered a few items on the menu. We had the Hainanese Chicken Rice and the Roast Chicken.
The Hainanese was delicious! The skin, though not as thick as the Singaporean counterpart, was thin and tender, and almost melted in my mouth.
I mixed the three sauces of thick, sweetish soy sauce, chili and ginger. Dabbing the sauces over the boneless chicken, I had a mouthful of tasty, authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice.
With a leaf of coriander, it too me back to the hawker center at Tiong Bahru.
The Roast Chicken was also good—the skin crispy and flavorful. I’m confused on what I prefer more between the two.
Another Singaporean dish that I liked at Met Live Mall was Fish Head Curry. This is not your typical curry. This was creamy, a bit spicy, and very tasty.
With the gelatin from the fish head plus hot rice, it was a perfect combination. I have never tried a curry of this level and quality. Outstanding!
Whenever I crave for Singaporean food, this is my go-to place.
Tiong Bahru Boneless Hainanese Chicken, Met Live Mall, Macapagal Ave. corner Edsa, Pasay City; tel. 2469069, extension 269
My next food tours are: Hokkaido, Sept. 27-Oct. 2; Fukuoka, Oct. 6-11; South Korea, Nov. 4-9; Hokkaido, Dec. 4-9; email firstname.lastname@example.org