Thursday, November 6, 2014

Restaurant Review: Yeo Keng Nam Chicken Rice (Singapore)

We had 36 hours in Singapore, and squeezing as many meals as possible into those hours was the main goal.

I very strongly wanted to avoid Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice because of the hype, lines, too predictable, etc.

Googling for the "best" Chicken Rice joints in Singapore is like getting sucked into a black hole. Actually, scratch that. Googling for any of the "best" local dishes is like getting sucked into a black hole. For my personality type (needing to read EVERY review ever written on every place), this meant I spent way too much time researching what to eat. It seems like Singaporeans are very opinionated when it comes to determining the "best" of what to eat. That's ok with me!

I eventually shortlisted the following three Chicken Rice joints (for various reasons, I'm sure, but I can no longer recall them):

Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant (Golden Mile Tower #B1-20)
6001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199589

Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice (Golden Mile Food Centre #B1-35)
505 Beach Rd, Singapore 199583

Yeo Keng Nam Chicken Rice
8 Braddell Rd, Singapore 359898

I decided to try the last place: Yeo Keng Nam Chicken Rice.

We hopped in a cab in front of our hotel, and gave the address to the cabbie. About 10 minutes in, he said "Is this a chicken rice place?" Cory and I looked at each other, and I said "Yes" to the cabbie. Another 10 minutes went by, and we basically pulled into a strip mall on the side of a very busy road.


This has got to be authentic, right?

We entered, and I was immediately spoken to in Chinese - "2 people?"

For some reason, I'd thought that in Singapore, we'd be spoken to in English (since I'd be walking around with a white dude!) But I guess that was naïve of me. Whenever I walk into a Chinese restaurant (sometimes even a Korean restaurant) here in the States, the wait staff usually addresses me in their language. Point being, Singapore was not the refuge I had hoped for, and had to remain on high-alert to communicate in Chinese.

The menu on the board. At least the menu is always in English in Singapore, YAY!

We ordered some tea (wish we didn't, though, because we got free chicken soup and couldn't drink all our liquids!), a half order of Hainanese Chicken, and two bowls of chicken rice. The old auntie then asked what veggies we wanted. See what I mean about ordering obligatory greens at Chinese restaurants? What is this balanced diet nonsense anyways?!? We ordered the bok choy, since the auntie said it was good. Ok, lady, I'll trust you.

Food porn!

The half Chicken :D It's served at room temperature. Very fragrant (lots of sesame oil), great texture.

Hainanese Chicken

Our sautéed bok choy. The auntie wasn't lying... this was probably the yummiest greens we had on our whole trip, haha!

Bok choy

The actual rice. Nicely cooked, not greasy, not overly chicken. But to be honest, I don't see what the big deal about the rice is. Just cook jasmine rice in half chicken broth (homemade) and half water, and don't you get this? IDK. Someone enlighten me, please.

Chicken rice

They take credit card, which is helpful. Though, I will say one thing about Singapore -- they must have switched over to chip and pin credit cards a LONG time ago, because every place we went to assumed we had chip and pin, and you could see the visible frustration on their face: "Why isn't this working?!" Because the US is slow on the uptake... (and hence the credit card fraud problems?? Maybe.)

Afterwards, we still had quite a lot of time before our next scheduled meal. It would only take a 15 minute cab ride to our next feeding location, but they wouldn't open for another hour. So we decided to take the local bus and walk instead, and kill some time. Why don't you hop on with us?

Clearly labeled bus stop.

Waiting for the bus!

Lots of students, as it was the end of the school day

Contactless fare payment. I still can't believe NYC doesn't have contactless fare yet. I wonder if Singaporeans visiting NYC wonder where to tap their metrocards at the entrance stalls.

We hopped off the bus at the Ang Mo Kio neighbourhood and took our sweet time walking 20 minutes to the next restaurant. Enjoy some random pictures:

We walked past this massive banquet setup. We briefly wondered if we could blend in and get a free meal. But the plastic chairs didn't bode well, so we continued on our journey.

Random event going on...

Nearby, saw this big sign. My guess is that it's for that event! What does it say, though? Help?

My Chinese illiteracy prevents me from translating for you.

Oh, I had better close the loop on the Chicken Rice review!

Bottom Line: I enjoyed our chicken rice experience. I don't know if it was amazing or not (the sautéed greens were probably the best we had on our trip, strangely enough) since I have nothing to compare to, but I enjoyed the meal. I felt like we ordered too much (as usual); it seemed like some locals coming in were able to order smaller portion sizes. I don't think I would go back, but if you are looking for a tourist-free joint in a non-hawker center setting, this would be a good choice. That is, if you don't mind the strip mall-esque location!

1 comment:

  1. (Yes, I am stalking your blog posts from several months ago)

    Good call on skipping Tian tian and I totally agree on your review of Chicken Rice. Like the rice is good enough but it is just. rice. Calm the f down.