(Remember the show Tropang Trumpo and their expression, “Chicken!”? Haha.)
I’m sorry I couldn’t come up with a cleverer title for this post, but, really, this is what this post is about. In my previous post, I already wrote about the first major food group of my Singapore trip, Din Tai Fung. The second major food group was, well, chicken.
Everyone knows that, apart from Chili Crab (which I don’t eat), the other dish Singapore is famous for is Chicken Rice or Hainanese Chicken. And, y’all know how much I love me some Hainanese Chicken. So it was definitely one of my goals to eat Chicken rice as many times as I reasonably can over a 4-day period.
So how many times was that? Two. It doesn’t seem like much, but you must take into account that I only had office-imposed food for lunch, and I had to eat DTF and Bon Chon (more on that later) as well. And, first up was Sergeant Chicken at Food Republic at Wisma Atria Orchard. I ate here at the recommendation of Chuvaness’s blog, she rated this as her favorite in Singapore. And also because it was walking distance from my hotel.
Naturally, my expectations were high. My thinking was, if this was Chuvaness’s favorite in a city with Wee Nam Kee, Pow Sing and Boo Tong Kee, then it must be good. But, sadly, those expectations weren’t met. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken, both the white and roasted varieties, was tender and tasty.
I particularly liked the skin of the roasted one. The rice was good, too. But none of them were mind-blowingly good. The ginger sauce, I have to admit, was a little off with a strange aftertaste. It didn’t taste fresh (a Tagalog word comes to mind: starts with a “pa” and ends with an “s”) and I’m not entirely sure if that’s how it’s really supposed to taste.
Overall, Sergeant Chicken was a good chicken rice experience. But was it definitely not the best Singapore had to offer.
And that brings me to Wee Nam Kee, touted by some as the best chicken rice in the city-nation. I apologize in advance for the poor quality of my photos, since when I left for work that day, I didn’t know we were going to have dinner at Wee Nam Kee (my plan was to have lunch there the next day). Consequently, I didn’t have my camera with me and was only able to take pics with my Blackberry. But I digress.
With all the hype in Manila over Wee Nam Kee and the opening of its first foreign branch at Ayala Triangle this month, I’ve heard all the raves about this restaurant and its superior chicken rice.
Naturally, with such high praise coming from everyone who was any sort of a foodie, my expectations for WNK were high. And this chicken rice institution did not disappoint. The Hainanese Chicken was tender, juicy and flavorful. The same is true for the roast chicken as well, which was moist throughout and had the perfect crispy skin.
While I’m not really a shrimp/prawn fan (unless they’re cooked in a TON of butter and garlic), I enjoyed the cereal prawns, which were unlike any prawn dish I’ve ever had before. Why are they called “cereal” prawns, anyway? What is that stuff they call “cereal”?
And I’ve always liked Tom Yao (?), which I think are called Noble Greens (Banana Leaf has an equally yummy version).
My ONLY complaint (and I always seem to have one, no?) is that the ginger sauce was waaaaay too strong for me. Everyone else doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, but personally, I prefer a subtler version, one that doesn’t overpower the flavor of the chicken.
WNK was definitely the best chicken rice I’ve had over my trip. But is it the best in Singapore? I can’t say. A sample size of two isn’t enough to make that assessment. So my delicious research will have to continue.
The second part of this major food group was 4 Fingers Bon Chon Crispy Chicken (try saying that four times fast!), which I also heard about from Chuvaness and from colleagues who have visited Singapore. My online research yielded rave reviews from New Yorkers (including Esquire Magazine), a bunch that are generally difficult to please food-wise, so I was sold.
Bon Chon is located at the imposing ION Orchard Food Hall. The place was so huge, we consulted a map to find Bon Chon as I didn’t want to wander around aimlessly, hungry and in heels with my heavy laptop bag. The place was tiny, with seating capacity for only 12 people on one big, wooden table. We got lucky, though, since there were 2 available seats and the people seating across from us kindly moved to the side to accommodate the third person in our group.
*Apologies again, for the picture quality. This was taken with a phone again
My mom and I split a dozen wings, 6 soy-garlic and 6 hot and a chicken Caesar salad (to allay the guilt of having fried wings for dinner). I had the hot wings first, which turned out to be a mistake, since they were so hot I think they numbed my taste buds. They were absolutely yummy, make no mistake, but I had to take gulps of my drink and huge bites of my salad to rid my palate of the spice, so I could properly taste the soy-garlic wings. Lesson learned for my next Bon Chon trip: have the soy-garlic wings first before having the spicy ones. On the other hand, the soy-garlic wings were a curious mix of sweet and salty, the taste unlike anything I’ve ever encountered on a chicken wing before.
Another wonderful thing about these wings, apart from the flavor, is their crispiness. Despite being glazed with the sauces, the paper-thin skin remains awesomely crispy. And the other thing to rave about is the lack of overall greasiness. The wings are fried, so of course, there will be some oil involved, but the amount is surprisingly minimal. There’s none of that kilig-inducing gelatinous fat between the skin and the meat.
So, to recap: the wings are addictingly delicious, they’re crispy and less greasy than the average fried chicken wings. In other words, Bon Chon chicken wings are perfect. AND, THEY’RE COMING TO MANILA, TOO!
Wee Nam Kee and Bon Chon, both in Manila. I. CAN’T. WAIT (although my arteries will beg to differ).