Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice - Chinatown - Singapore, Singapore

Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice

This will be a much shorter post compared to 'Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice' as I've used up a lot of what I was going to say about Hainanese chicken rice in that post.

Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice is very much similar to Tian Tian in terms of store appearance, food offerings and location. It has the same dark blue lit sign, serves Hainanese chicken rice and is located in Maxwell Food Centre. The only difference is there is no queue. Every tourist seems to have one thought in mind and that is to go to Tian Tian. Local Singaporeans seem to have a favourite and they tend to go to the same one as well. For this reason, it's not very busy.

On that particular day, I didn't feel like lining up, but felt like eating chicken rice. The queue for Tian Tian was going out through the door and this would have easily been a hour wait. There are a few places that offer chicken rice in Maxwell Road  Food Centre and the one that stuck out was Heng Heng. The chickens on display looked large, plump and juicy. It was literally calling my name.

This simple dish has become a staple in the Singaporean diet. I wouldn't mind eating it every week either if I had the chance to. As I had the chance to eat it again in Singapore, I immediately jumped at that opportunity, given the limited days we had there. To most, Hainanese chicken rice is served with steamed chicken. However, there is also the roast chicken option. I've never tried the roast version in Singapore so I thought I would give it a try.

This time I requested for the drumstick part and yay, they had it. 'Drumstick Roast Chicken Rice (SGD 3.50)' is nicely chopped and the meat is wonderfully succulent and tender. The Hainanese roast chicken is different to the usual supermarket roast chickens. It's less salty and is pleasing to eat as the layer of fat between the skin and meat has been cooked off. The generous mound of rice is cooked with an aromatic and fragrant taste.

Here they also provide the complimentary house chicken soup. The chicken soup isn't just your mediocre and diluted soup, but it's intense and rich in flavour.

Three sauces are on offer including the mandatory chilli sauce, ginger sauce and dark soya sauce. The make or fail of the chicken rice dish is the chilli sauce. The one here is good but it's not as good as Tian Tian as it seems to be lacking something but I don't know what. Although it's spicy, zesty and goes well with the roast chicken.

At SGD 3.00, it's a steal and you're getting the real deal. Couldn't find any faults and I will be sure to visit again next time. I was too quick to order and didn't notice the set meal that was available for SGD 4.50. If you like vegetables, this may be an option.

Overall the chicken rice at Heng Heng is delicious and do give it a visit if you're in Singapore. It's hard to compare the chicken to Tian Tian, as I had roast instead of the steamed. I'm such a human of habit as I tend to visit the same places over and over again, so that will be one of my goals next time, to try out more places. I hear Maxwell Hainanese Chicken Rice is pretty good as well.

A 'Coconut' to cool myself down in the heat. Unfortunately, it has matured and isn't sweet. Though, it contains heaps of juice.

Stall 44, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
1 Kadayanallur Street
Singapore 069184

Opening Hours


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice - Chinatown - Singapore, Singapore

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice

It's finally time. As promised, I will now post about the famous 'Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice' stall. This post has been delayed for a very long time. I've been Tian Tian a number of times but my photos always turned out to be blurry and I couldn't justify posting about it. This time, I ensured my photos were much clearer and more presentable.

Located within Maxwell Food Centre, is this little humble hawker store selling Singaporean styled chicken rice. It sounds like a plain and boring dish, yet its simplicity is striking, packed with a whole lot of taste and it's phenomenal. I'm a big fan of their chicken and it's just so delectable and cooked to ultimate perfection. Now I'm going a bit overboard.

Maxwell Food Centre is a famous hawker centre. It's non-air conditioned, crowded and not the cleanest environment. It's a plain, casual and no frills food court. There isn't much to it. You may also find yourself sweating buckets in the heat and humidity. However, the quality of food at some of the stores here is exceptional. I've eaten at moderately priced restaurants in Singapore and sometimes what I can get at a hawker centre tastes so much better. The best part about eating at a hawker centre is the reasonable, budget friendly prices. It's just so cheap and pocket friendly!

Over the years, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice hasn't changed much. The store front is still the same, the menu is still the same and the queue hasn't changed unfortunately. Best of all, the prices are still reasonable for the taste and quality. You're paying SGD 3-5 for a generous portion of authentic Singaporean food and that is what brings me back time and time again.  It's good value for money.

Even before it opens at 10am, there is a line forming. They say, the length of the queue is an indication of how good the food is. We start queueing up a bit before 10am and we end up waiting for about 10 minutes which is short compared to what I have waited before, which can be up to half an hour.  The line can spiral around the back of the store.

It's been mentioned in numerous travel guides and if you search Google, there will be thousands of reviews on this eatery. It's popular and its popularity is valid for a reason. You'll never fail to see a tourist holding a guide book lining up. It's ever so popular with locals and tourists.

Do you recognise that famous face? It's celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who has raved about the chicken rice here .

What has changed though is they no longer offer a side soup to go with the chicken rice. What happened to the soup? Their chicken soup was so good and I was so shocked that they got rid of it. I guess it's time consuming to make and serve. At least the delicious chicken rice made up for it. Another thing that has changed is they no longer offer metal cutlery. They now provide plastic knives and forks which is better cause its more hygienic.

Hainanese chicken rice is basically steamed chicken, served slightly chilled over chicken flavoured rice.

It's served with a chilli sauce and sometimes ginger and dark soya sauce. However, Tian Tian only serves chilli sauce.

We ask for three dishes of the drumstick chicken rice, as no one is a fan of the breast meat. Unfortunately, they only have two drumsticks left and I decide to give the other two dining companions the drumstick chicken rice.

Service is prompt. You place your order and then you wait to the side. Then you wait a few minutes for the chicken to be chopped up, plated and accompanying sauce served. In the meantime, you grab your plastic cutlery and wait.

'Chicken Drumstick Chicken Rice SGD (4.20)' is glorious. The chicken skin is paper thin and near translucent. The meat is smooth, succulent and oozing with juices,.

From the picture, the chicken is shiny because they've added a special kind of sauce on top to give it extra flavour and it sure adds a kick. The rice is not dry and lacking flavour like some places would usually cook it. It's loaded with chicken stock and there are hints of garlic leaving it smelling ultra fragrant. They also cook the rice with chicken oil but it's not oily as you would expect.

One of my all time favourite rice dishes. Looking at the picture is making me hungry.

'Chicken Rice (SGD 3.50)' is served with the breast meat part of the chicken, the part I dislike most. It's still very good and it's so rare for chicken breast to be cooked that well. The flesh is soft and tender, yet maintaining that slight chewiness.

Oh so good. Look at my clean plate!

Tian Tian also has three other outlets in Singapore, operating as a restaurant for those who prefer to go to those over hawker centres. Though, I've never been to any of them myself.

If you have the chance to visit Singapore, do give Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice a try. It's worth the time queueing and at the end of it, you'll be rewarded. This is a big call, but I would say Tian Tian serves one of the best chicken rice in Singapore and there are plenty.

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
1 Kadayanallur Road
Singapore 069184

Phone no: +85 9691 4852

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Sunday
11am - 8pm


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ramen Zundo - Sydney CBD - Sydney, Australia

Ramen Zundo

I previously posted about Ramen Zundo a while back, but they've recently added a new dish to the menu called 'Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen'. Miss Booklover has reminded me to post about this specific occasion and I've been dragging it on for weeks and now months.

How did we found out about this special? Miss Booklover follows them on Facebook and when news of this popped up, she quickly sent a message to me and off we went to Ramen Zundo a few days later. Thanks Miss Booklover!

We were the first people in Sydney to try this dish on the release date of 1st of August 2014. Another valid reason for me to be posting about this memorable event sooner rather than later. She is a big fan of Ramen Zundo and it's one of her favourite ramen joints she regularly goes to get her ramen fix. What brings her back time and time again is the fatty pork. Boy, it is good. Though, not very healthy.

There are special conditions to be met before you can get a hold of this ramen. Only 10 bowls are available between the hours of 5pm till 9pm, starting from the 1st of August 2014. Shhhhhh!!! Only a few bowls a day so you have to get in fast before they sell out.

If you haven't read my previous post about this eatery, Ramen Zundo is a Japanese restaurant specialising in ramen but they also have other items available. I hear their 'Tsukemen' is highly recommended.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen. Remember that name.

As per their Facebook page, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen is a unique ramen from the south of the Fukuoka prefecture of Japan. The colour of the white soup is acquired from boiling the pork broth at an extreme temperature to achieve the creamy texture.

At $11.80, it's moderately priced. Not really cheap but not expensive either. But it's well worth the money and you have to try it to know why.

The noodles are perfectly cooked al dente, leaving it with a nice firm bite, reminding me very much of what they offer at Ippudo. It's thin, yet bouncy and pleasant to eat.

The winning component of this dish is the broth. It's extremely light, flavoursome and not overpowering. It doesn't leave you with that sick and icky feeling afterwards. It goes beautifully with the noodles.

That pork is another hit. Layered with meat and ribbons of fat. Oh the glory! In terms of portion size, it isn't the largest but they are generous with the meat, giving 4 slices of deliciousness.

I ended up trying to scoop up every single remaining droplet of soup because it's that good.

A side of ginger and garlic is provided and it goes nicely with the ramen. It's usually self-serve after you enter the restaurant but the waiter was nice and brought it out to us.

We returned a few weeks later and the waiter remembered that we were the first to try out the dish. Hehe.

Shop 10.30 World Square,
640 George St
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone no:  02 9264 6113

Opening Hours
Monday - Sunday
11:45am - 9:00pm


Ramen Zundo on Urbanspoon

Monday, 8 September 2014

Pho 24 - Ho Chi Minh City - South Vietnam, Vietnam

Pho 24

Pho is a staple dish in Vietnam and it can be eaten throughout the day.

Pho 24 is a Vietnamese noodle soup (Pho) restaurant, a popular chain and franchise, with a number of stores located throughout Vietnam and Asia. They are known for serving delicious and authentic Pho, using simple and fresh ingredients, at reasonable prices. The first outlet was open in 2003 and they have since expanded their operations and by 2012, there were 70 outlets.

We stayed at Palace Hotel located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. It's a great hotel with a central location, providing easy access to the tourist attractions. Do note that going around the City can be difficult as there aren't any trains in the area. Most of the time we took a taxi if it wasn't within walking distance. The taxis charge according to the meter and this turned out to be a cheap form of transportation to get around.

*Credits to Bu Binh

District 1 is the financial and commercial hub of the city and this is where most of the international visitors congregate. I felt safer in this area as opposed to another district we stayed at on arrival, which felt congested and not tourist friendly.

There are tourist attractions such as the Saigon Skydeck, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Reunification Palace, Central Post Office and the City Hall. As such, there are many cafes and restaurants here to cater for the diverse market.  Here you'll also find international designer brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. I wish we stayed here for more than one night as there is a lot to see but we just didn't have enough time. Even though this was my third time going back to Vietnam, I never knew about this area until this trip. My aunt, a lady in her 60's, who has lived in this City all her life, has never been to District 1 and she said many like her also haven't. I found that to be an interesting fact as I would have expected most locals to have been here but she said it's more of a place for the younger generation.

Pho 24 is a few steps down the road from the hotel. Conveniently open from 6am, so if you're hungry you know where to go. A lot of places aren't open till 10am with the exception of street stalls and a few restaurants as they tend to stay open later.

The restaurant interior is modern, clean and thankfully air conditioned. You could say you're paying a premium for this welcoming environment. The Pho can cost up to more than twice the price of local fare.

The front of the store is where all the action happens. That is where they cook the noodles and compile the ingredients together. When we were there, it looked to be mainly locals who were eating in so that was a good sign.

Since it's a franchise, you can expect the quality and consistency to be will be maintained. The menu is extensive and they offer set combos such as Pho with a drink or Pho with a drink and dessert. At the moment there is a promotion on where you can get a small bowl of Pho for VND 29,000.

Pho is available in either small or large size. We didn't mention small or large when our order was taken, neither did the waiter ask, and we ended up with a large bowl each. Their large bowl is really filling and for breakfast it was a struggle to finish.

Chicken Pho is a hard dish to get right as restaurants tend to focus more on the Beef Pho. Some restaurants end up making it tasteless and bland.The 'Pho Ga - Chicken Pho (Large)' is served in a big bowl. A nice steaming, hot bowl of noodle soup with good flavours. The broth was tasty but it doesn't compare to my all time favourite Chicken Pho from Pho An. It lacked that kick, which may be because of how it's cooked or the spices that are added in. The thin rice noodles used are fresh and not packaged.

The 'Pho Bo Dac Biet -  Beef Pho Special (Large)' contains a mix of beef, tendon, tripe and beef balls. Their beef just doesn't equate to Australian beef. It lacks that oomph  factor and as such the Pho wasn't overly great, as the beef makes a big difference to the dish. The broth, however, was seasoned perfectly, not too sweet and just right on the palate.

The obligatory side vegetables are washed and cut up nicely. The beansprouts have most of their yellow heads taken off which is something I've rarely seen, if ever, at a restaurant. I actually don't find any difference in taste between heads left on or taken off.

'Nuoc Mia - Sugarcane Drink' is available in a can. Now that's something I never tried before in Vietnam. Unfortunately, it failed in taste in comparison to the real thing and tasted artificial. It wasn't bad for a canned drink but it can't replace the freshly made sugarcane juice with no preservatives.

In terms of cleanliness, quality and affordability, you can't go wrong with Pho 24. The Pho is standard and mediocre, but this is coming from someone with high standards for Pho as I've eaten it so much. If you're after those qualities and want decent Pho, then this is the place to go.

17 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng
Bến Nghé,
Hồ Chí Minh City,

Phone no: +84 8 3914 2424

Opening Hours
7 Days a Week
6:00am - 10:00pm Daily


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Com Ga Dong Nguyen / Dong Nguyen Chicken Rice Restaurant- Ho Chi Minh City - South Vietnam, Vietnam.

Com Ga Dong Nguyen / Dong Nguyen Chicken Rice Restaurant

Food is relatively cheap in Vietnam. Most main meals are priced between VND 20,000  - VND 60,000 in a standard restaurant which is about $1 to $3 AUD, but prices can go way beyond this range if you are keen on going to more fancier restaurants. A bargain in comparison to what you would pay in Australia but the portion sizes are much smaller than what we would get here. You may need to have two or three servings to get full if you have a bigger appetite.

On the day we flew into South Vietnam from Singapore, it was already late into the day, so by the time we got into the City and checked into our hotel it was dinner time.

Our first dinner was at 'Com Ga Dong Nguyen'. It's a famous restaurant having been established since 1945. From its name, 'Com Ga' in Vietnamese means chicken rice . Back 12 years ago when we first had chicken rice in Vietnam it was absolutely delicious. 12 years later we wanted to see whether it tasted as good as it did back then. Though my re-collections of what I ate were rather faint, as I was only in primary school back then and wasn't exposed much to the good food.

The restaurant is popular with the locals even though the prices are a bit towards the steeper end. In addition to the chicken dishes, they also serve a variety of other dishes such as pork chop, BBQ pork, roast pork and a variety of soups.

The restaurant interior is minimal and casual. The wait staff are dressed nicely in a  uniform and orders are taken promptly once you are seated.

Each table has a menu and it's all in Vietnamese. Not sure if there's an English menu but I'm assuming there is one as it's located in central Saigon with a lot of tourists around. Food arrives at the table very quickly after ordering.

'Com Ga Dong Nguyen - Chicken Rice (VND 50,000)' is what we're here for. The chicken used is free range chicken as the Vietnamese prefer chicken meat with more of a bite. Unfortunately, we forgot to request for the drumstick part of the chicken and ended up with dry and bland meat. The bones are left intact so do be careful when eating as there are small bones. They use broken rice instead of the normal Jasmine rice which has a much drier texture. It would have been better if they served a side soup as other restaurants would with chicken rice.

The mandatory chilli sauce is placed on the table and self-serve. It contained a mix of chilli, ginger and garlic. Similar to a run down version of the sweet chilli sauce. It was sweet and not very spicy but went well with the chicken rice.

'Canh Cu Sen - Lotus Root Soup (VND 50,000)' was refreshing and cooked well. It had the right balance of flavours. Though, it didn't go very well with the chicken rice. The chicken soup would have otherwise been the perfect accompaniment. Soup is good for the body as it is loaded with minerals and nutrients.

A fresh 'Coconut' to cool down in the heat.

If you're not too adventurous with your food then this eatery may be a good choice as the options on offer do not deviate to the norm. The food is decent but I wouldn't rate it as superb. It's in an easy to find location and the taxi would most likely know where it is.

801 Nguyễn Trãi Phường 14,
Quận 5,
Hồ Chí Minh, 

Phone no: +84 38592846

Opening Hours