For those of you that read my entry about Sweet Java and Deville’s Pad, you’ll know that my evening on Friday ended in the consumption of many alcoholic beverages and minimal memory retention. Cut forward to the next day and my boozy slumber was rudely cut short at 12:30pm by my parents coming over (I was escorting them to a fancy dress shop for the 60th birthday we were attending that evening, but that’s a different story entirely). Still, being dragged out of bed feeling like death did have a silver lining; they were taking me for chicken rice at a new place I’d discovered around the corner from my house.
Those of you that have never tried Hainanese Chicken Rice (to give it its proper name) may be understandably underwhelmed at first impression. It is, after all, a dish that consists primarily of just chicken, rice, a bit of bok choy or cucumber and some chilli sauce. However, its simple appearance belies a subtlety and complexity that have made this dish hugely popular throughout large parts of South East Asia. In fact, many Singaporeans consider it to be their national dish, and that lot know their food, so there must be something to it, right? For starters, the chicken is not merely cooked in water, but boiled in a special pork and chicken bone stock that is used over and over again, only being topped up when needed, thus giving the meat a great depth of flavour and fantastic texture. The rice too is cooked in a specially prepared chicken stock to produce an amazing fragrant oiliness. It normally comes served with a tangy, garlicky sweet chilli style sauce, but some dark soy sauce too is not uncommon. Admittedly, the bok choy and or cucumber is just that, bok choy or cucumber, but both serve to balance the decadently oily goodness of the rest of the dish. Let’s be honest here folks, it’s not what anyone would consider health food, but hung over at Saturday lunch time, I couldn’t really have cared less. Oh yeah, and it will sometimes come served with a bowl of chicken broth on the side, which isn’t much to write home about, but can be poured over the rice to add moisture.
First acquainted with this chickeny Asian delight while living on Christmas Island, my immediate family and I are always on the lookout for places that do a good one, so when I saw that Tak Kee, a little Asian food place at the shopping centre around from my humble abode in Yokine, did one as a lunch special on Saturdays I was pleasantly surprised and tentatively hopeful. I tested it out with a takeaway while hung over the previous weekend (seeing a pattern here yet folks?), and having confirmed it as being of sufficient quality to satisfy our demanding palates, took the folks there. Now I’m not going to go on and describe the décor, ambiance or service in any great depth because it’s a small Chinese/Asian place that primarily does takeaway (they do have a few tables for dining in), so I’m assuming you can all form a reasonably accurate picture in your minds with that information, and besides it doesn’t really matter anyway. What matters is that they do a fantastic chicken rice, and for $9 a serve you’d be hard pressed to complain. If there was one fault though, it was with me, as my somewhat delicate stomach left me unable to fully complete my meal. But don’t worry, I’ll be back to have a crack soon enough. The Curry Laksa I saw some other customers eating looked damned good too, so there are multiple reasons for a return visit.
Another place to grab a good takeaway chicken rice is the Daily Supermarket on Beaufort St in Mt Lawley. They only do it on weekends and in a takeaway plastic box, but as far as easy, cheap ($6) and tasty weekend microwave meals go, there aren’t many better in my estimation. If any of you out there happened to know of a place that does a good chicken rice then please leave a comment and let me know. I’m on a never ending quest to find the best one in town, so any tips are greatly appreciated.