Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Tony Boey johorkaki@gmail 🇸🇬 Dairy of Singapore active senior. Best years of food, travel, lifestyle

Tian Tian Chicken Rice @ Maxwell Road Food Centre Singapore 天天海南雞飯

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Just the other day, I dropped by Tian Tian Chicken Rice after a 2 year break. Tian Tian's chicken rice is still delicious and remains firmly among the public's top favourites in Singapore.


I went to eat chicken rice at Tian Tian again today (twice in less than a week) :-D



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There is always a snaking queue at Tian Tian. Once prominently featured in Anthony Bourdain as well as Gordon Ramsay's shows, Tian Tian is a destination for tourists wanting a taste of Singapore's national dish. Perhaps half the customers in the queue this Sunday morning were Japanese, Korean, Chinese or Caucasian.



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As it was a Sunday morning, most of the stalls here at Maxwell Road food centre were closed or not yet opened. Most of the tables were taken by people eating Tian Tian chicken rice.

Tian Tian has a very systematic queueing system, so the queue clears very fast - place your orders at the first stall, and step forward to collect your food at the next stall. We always get our food within 15-20 minutes even when the queue is long.  

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We all know how competitive a business chicken rice is in Singapore. Chicken rice is Singapore's unofficial national dish and many Singaporeans eat it more than once or twice a week. (I am guilty of this too.)

Singaporeans are blessed in that many chicken rice stalls in the sunny island have honed their chicken cooking skills to a fine art. It is quite easy to get excellent chicken rice in any corner of Singapore as the overall standard is very high here.

So much so that there is precious little to tell the best chicken rice stalls apart, especially at the top band.

Most chicken rice stalls use the same or similar breed of American broilers 肉雞 trucked in live from Malaysia and slaughtered in Singapore. Most chicken rice stalls use the same cooking technique of poaching followed by dunking in water.

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Tian Tian's poached chicken is chopped with a cleaver in large meaty chunks, which I like. Needless to say, at Tian Tian, the chunks of chicken flesh were tender and juicy, though American broilers in themselves are typically weak on natural flavours (compared to free range kampung chicken).

Tian Tian's approach is to take the generic weakly flavoured American broiler to a higher level of taste with their signature dressing sauce.

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To up it's game, Tian Tian has come up with a signature dressing sauce that reminds me of "superior broth 上湯" usually used to dress premium seafood dishes like abalone, sea cucumber or lobsters. The sauce has good heavy body, deep layered savouriness balanced with a mild sweetness. It made many people fall in love with Tian Tian chicken rice - including Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay no less - the dressing sauce setting it apart from the rest. (I did detect a bit - not too much - of flavour enhancer similar to MSG in the sauce.)

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Tian Tian is also strong in the rice department. The good quality rice grains were cooked to the right nutty tender texture. Each grain cooked in chicken broth was sealed with a very fine film of chicken oil. Rich chicken and garlic flavours and aromas greeted our noses and taste buds.

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Tian Tian's chili is ground slightly grainy and suspended in a watery sauce. It has quite a sharp spicy sting balanced with tanginess from lime and with savoury flavours.

The ginger was also ground roughly, which I like. The ginger was mildly spicy in the way ginger is spicy. A bit a savouriness balances the ginger dip.

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The gooey dark soy sauce was thick and syrupy. It was a blend of savoury and sweet.

No soup is served. I wish a simple chicken soup is served as that would complete the dish (as in the old days).

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Tian Tian sells this half chicken which comfortably feeds 2-3 people at SGD12.00 - that is very reasonable pricing. (Rice extra at SGD0.70 per bowl.)

If you are a visitor to Singapore, don't leave the island without eating chicken rice - and, at Tian Tian you will experience a fine example of Singapore style Hainanese chicken rice at an authentic Singapore hawker centre in a very accessible location. (Plentiful metered parking at the adjacent URA building and 15 minutes walk from Chinatown MRT station.)

Recommended for you - a short history of Singapore chicken rice <- click

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice - Bib Gourmand Awards 2016 Singapore 天天海南雞飯

Restaurant name: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯
Address: #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, Maxwell Road, Singapore
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/TQZZC
GPS: 1.280412,103.844286
Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm (Closed on Monday)

No pork, no lard, no Halal cert




Dates visited: 1 May 2014, 25 Oct 2015, 1 Nov 2015








Exploring Maxwell Food Centre, you cannot miss the chicken rice stalls here - there are at least half a dozen in this relatively small hawker centre. Of course, the most famous is Tian Tian - it is continually featured in local and foreign media, as well as Michelin Bib Gourmand and all. So, there is always a long queue of tourists at the stall. Today, I spotted a blue moon - incredibly, there was not one queuing. I quickly put in my order. Afterall, I haven't eaten Tian Tian chicken rice since 2015. S$5 got me this mound of rice topped with chicken breast sans skin (maybe they thought I am a tourist ah...?). There was no cucumber, no soup but a dish of chili sauce in a small disposable plastic dish. No ginger, no dark soy sauce. The boiled rice was a mix of full and broken grains. Tender and nutty, I like the texture. The flavour and aroma was nice too. It was also not overly greasy. The chicken breast was splashed with a thicken savoury brown sauce. The white meat was tender and moist but without skin and jellied fat it doesn't have much, if any flavour. The savoury brown sauce helped a bit with its taste. The chili sauce was spicy and sourish. I needed it to make the chicken meat palatable. Next time, I would think twice even if there is no one at the queue. https://johorkaki.blogspot.com/2015/11/tian-tian-hainanese-chicken-rice.html
A post shared by Tony Johor Kaki (@johorkaki) on

Update 20 Nov 2019 1 Apr 2020



Tian-Tian-Chicken-Rice-Singapore-天天海南雞飯

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯 is the most famous chicken rice in Singapore. Period.

For years now, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯 has been regularly featured in every form of Singapore media, official and social media. Tian Tian was mentioned by television personalities like Anthony Bourdain and was voted by Singaporeans to represent the country in a cook-off with Gordon Ramsay in 2013. Tian Tian beat Gordon Ramsay in the television cook-off.


Today, I visited the die die must try Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯 in Singapore :D

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As expected, there was a constant snaking queue at Tian Tian chicken rice. The orderly queue consisted of a mix of locals as well as wide-eyed guide book and camera togging tourists.


The queue clears quickly as Tian Tian has an efficient, well oiled system - pay for your chicken rice at the right and collect it at the left.

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I ordered a basic SGD3.50 (RM9.00) set to try.

The generous portion of white chicken meat served at room temperature was skinless and boneless.

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The chicken meat was soft, limp and slightly dry. My companion impolitely described it as "tasteless". I would describe the chicken flavour as weak.

The chicken slices were doused with a syrupy textured gravy that enveloped most of the meat. The gravy was a blend of salty, savoury and sweet, mainly sugary sweet.

This sweet gravy overpowered what little chicken flavour there was in the meat.

There was no aroma from the gravy.

The slices of fresh cucumber that come with the chicken were crunchy, succulent and nicely sweet. I love it.

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The rice was made from good quality fragrant Jasmine grains. The garlic and chicken aroma was weak and discernible only when you pay close attention to it.

Though weak in aroma and not fluffy, the clumpy rice had just the right balance of firmness and tenderness, and not overly greasy.

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I liked Tian Tian's chili dip a lot. The finely blended chili is mixed in a watery base. The dip is a balance of tangy from lime, and spicy from blended chili and ginger. The dip's layered spiciness is quite sharp, giving it a nice kick which I enjoyed.

There is no separate ginger dip.

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I asked for this soup and a small bowl was provided grudgingly. I had perhaps wrongly assumed that the basic SGD3.50 set comes with soup, when it is provided only for bigger orders. 

The clear watery soup was salty and sweet, mostly sugary sweet.

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Another customer's half chicken. At SGD12.00, it is actually quite competitively priced by Singapore standards.


Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯 is above the average standard of chicken rice in Singapore.

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Restaurant name: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯
Address: #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, Maxwell Road, Singapore
Maphttp://goo.gl/maps/TQZZC
GPS: 1.280412,103.844286
Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm (Closed on Monday)


No pork, no lard, no Halal cert

 


Date visited: 1 May 2014




Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014 - Tian Tian Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯

Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014 will be held on 22 Nov and Tian Tian 天天海南雞飯, a famous name in Singapore chicken rice will again feature their special Anxin chicken 安.



Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice founded in 1986 in the old Maxwell Road food centre made it's mark in Singapore chicken rice with their succulent tender poached chicken bathed in their signature savoury, sweet sauce. Tian Tian's simple chicken rice won the praise of  Anthony Bourdain and represented Singapore at the cook-off with Gordon Ramsay in 2013, which Tian Tian proudly won.

Regular Tian Tian chicken rice is cooked with American Broiler breed of chicken. Since the inaugural Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest charity event in 2012, Tian Tian together with their chicken supplier Toh Thye San Farm has participated with their special Anxin chicken  which is a French breed. 

Tian Tian's Anxin chicken 雞 is only available at the annual Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest (charity food fair in support of Touch Community). 

(Note: Anxin chicken 雞 is certified Halal.)

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The Tian Tian mother and daughter team. Mdm Foo Kui Lian and her husband founded Tian Tian chicken rice at Maxwell Road food centre in 1986. Today, daughter Ms Loi Mui Yin helms the famous chicken rice shop with outlets in Maxwell Road, Clementi, Joo Chiat and Simpang Bedok. [Update: only Maxwell Road Food Centre outlet is still in business.]

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I had the privilege to preview Tian Tian's Anxin chicken 雞 at their Joo Chiat outlet together with bloggers Miss Tam ChiakSG Food on Food, and Silver Chef who are organising Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014.

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Hanging in the window at Joo Chiat are Tian Tian's star poached and deep fried chicken. These were their staple American Broilers. Tian Tian also serves a variety of well executed side dishes like Thai style toufu, stir fried greens, bean sprouts, and so on to go with the chicken.

We tasted 2 Anxin chicken, 1 poached Amercian Broiler, 1 deep fried American Broiler, and a variety of side dishes :D 

burp! Burp!! BURP!!!

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A staff at Tian Tian deftly cutting an Anxin chicken for us to taste. 



I love to watch how the chicken is cut. So much skill is involved. Knife work 刀工 actually affects the texture and flavours of the chicken. (My personal preference is for Cantonese style big, bold and chunky cuts 砍.)

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Tian Tian's special Anxin chicken poached chicken only available at the Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest.

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Anxin chicken skin looks glowingly yellow as the bird is purely corn fed. Anxin chicken meat is tender with a nice bite and slightly firmer compared to softer American Broilers. There was a slight spring and nice chickeny flavour in the juicy meat which are more or less absent in American Broilers.

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We also tasted regular Tian Tian chicken made with American Broiler breed. I like how Tian Tian's signature sauce lifted the flavour and taste of the (industry standard) Broiler which sets it apart from average chicken rice stalls in Singapore.

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American Broiler, the deep fried version. The chicken was tender and moist though less so than the poached version. The fried version also had a robust saltiness.

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Tian Tian rice was nutty and the good quality grains separate easily (粒粒 liap liap as we say in Hokkien). There was a nice savoury chicken flavour enveloping the rice grains which were not overly greasy.

 

Video of Miss Tam Chiak at Tian Tian chicken rice 天天海南雞飯 speaking with the owners of Tian Tian and Toh Thye San Farm.

We also took a road trip to one of the Toh Thye San farms in Simpang Rengam about 1.5 hours drive from in Johor Bahru :D

Being a food blogger is so fun right? :D

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A chicken coop. There were 10 of these coops at each farm.

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These Anxin chicken  were imported from France as chicks and raised till they are at least 2.2 kilos before they are sent to the market. The naked neck is a characteristic of Anxin chicken.

Unlike American Broilers which are sent to markets at 30 days old, Anxin chickens are raised till they are 60 to 120 days old (depending on customer requirement on weight).

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Ms Loi Mui Yin, the daughter of Tian Tian's founders now directs the chicken rice business.

 

Miss Tam Chiak at 
Toh Thye San Farm in Simpang Rengam. Kenny was sharing with Miss Tam Chiak more about what makes Anxin chicken special compared to standard American Broilers.

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A happy and successful partnership. The owners of Toh Thye San Farm, Alex and Kenny, with owners of Tian Tian chicken rice have supported each other for many years.

Toh Thye San Farm and Tian Tian chicken rice are again doing their part for the Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest (charity food fair in support of Touch Community). Get a taste of Anxin chicken 雞 and over 20 other Singapore hawker food at:

Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014
Venue: SUNTEC Convention Centre & Exhibition Centre Halls 401/ 402
Date: 22 Nov 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm.

Get you Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014 coupons here.

Thank you Tian Tian and Toh Thye San for your hospitality.

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Restaurant: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯 [The Joo Chiat Road outlet has closed]
Address: 443 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore
Maphttp://goo.gl/maps/NhABY
GPS: 1.307114,103.904150
Hours: 10:30 am to 9:30 pm
Phone: +65 6345 9443
Halal cert in process (expected in Dec 2014)

Restaurant name: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯 
Address: #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, Maxwell Road, Singapore 
Maphttp://goo.gl/maps/TQZZC
GPS: 1.280412,103.844286 
Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm (Closed on Monday) 

No pork, no lard, no Halal cert 

Date visited: 1 May 2014, 3 Oct 2014


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4 comments:

  1. I prefer Ah Tai from next door.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shall try it next time. Why do you prefer Ah Tai?

      Delete
    2. Apparently was set up by previous chef of tian tian
      http://foodiefc.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/ah-tai-hainanese-chicken-rice-maxwell.html

      Delete
  2. I was there at noon yesterday, ordered $ 10 chicken and 2 rice, found the rice and chicken tasteless. Chilli also have sign of adding sugar.

    ReplyDelete

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