Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice is in that narrow band of top chicken rice stalls or shops in Singapore. In chicken rice crazy Singapore, that is a huge feat.
Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of at least three chicken rice stalls here at the popular Maxwell Road Food Centre.
Ah Tai chicken rice is one of the stalwarts here at Maxwell Road Food Centre. The "top chicken" here in terms of fame is Tian Tian 天天 by a mile, but that's a story for another post <- click :-D
Stall owner Ah Tai has been a chicken rice seller for nearly 30 years now.
My usual order of half a bird with bones, meat, skin and fat - everything in. Ah Tai sells this half bird at SGD12 which is a very competitive price.
I like my chicken with bone on as I feel it tastes better with the bone juices. Many people prefer eating their chicken deboned as bones are "troublesome". But, well prepared chicken meat actually falls off the bone easily like loose clothing, so to me it's a good test if the chicken is well executed.
Ah Tai's "poached and dunked" chicken was meaty and oh... so... tender, juicy and smooth. The juicy flesh slipped off the bones like a loose glove. The chunky pieces of chicken were splashed with a generous amount of signature brown sauce.
The special brown sauce was savoury with slight sweetness. It brought out the pleasant chicken flavour from the meat and made every piece of tender juicy chicken, whether breast or thigh, delicious.
I will order chicken innards whenever it is available. This was the SGD3 serving at Ah Tai.
I wasn't expecting much. I just wanted something with a nice chewy, crunchy mouth feel to go with the tender chicken. At most stalls, the often over boiled innards are flavourless, rubbery and quite stiff.
But, not at Ah Tai. The innards had just the right texture of tender chewiness. It even felt smooth. The dressing sauce gave the boiled innards a nice savoury sweet taste and a pleasant aroma.
When I asked Ah Tai about it, he told me that the innards have to be cooked with a slow fire and it has to be watched carefully. So, we can taste the difference from the extra effort Ah Tai put in in cooking the humble innards. Bravo.
The rice was tender yet firm and nutty with just the right moistness. Every grain was enveloped with a thin film of aromatic chicken oil and broth. It's in the top band of chicken rice that I have eaten in Singapore so far.
Simple clear chicken soup with real chicken flavour.
Ah Tai's chili sauce had a nice sharp sting with refreshing sour notes from freshly squeezed lime. There was also a slight saltiness for balance.
The ginger dip was mildly spicy in the way ginger is spicy.
The dark soy sauce had a simple, flat saltiness.
Ah Tai is definitely one of the best chicken rice stalls in Singapore - every element from chicken to dressing sauce, dipping sauces, soup and rice are above average and combine very well to make Ah Tai tops for me.
Which is your favourite chicken rice stall here at Maxwell Road Food Centre?
Restaurant name: Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice 阿仔海南鸡饭
Address: 1 Kadayayanallur Street, #01-07 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore
GPS: 1.280163, 103.844354
Tel: 8137 6559
Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm (closed on Tues)
Date: 14 Nov 2015
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