2010-06-14 8 瀏覽
..Yet to try the so-called 文華雞飯 in TST as it was closed when I arrived , but 海南少爺 at least really shares linkage to the world famous Singaporean Hainanese Chicken shop Chatterbox in Singapore's Mandarin Oriental - some chefs really used to cook in that reknowned kitchen, so none of those 文華's or Sabatier's ripped off identity crisis when its completely unrelated to the original. The Singaporean outlet I have fortunately had an opportunity to try them twice, before and after when they moved up
HAINANESE CHICKEN SET - THIGH
Its virtually the same as Singaporean Mandarin Hotel Chatterbox's Chicken Set. Comprising of Chicken Soup with Tofu, a Plate of Seasonal Veggies (豆苗), Singaporean styled Hainanese Chicken, I opted to upgrade to 黑肉 (thigh, for +$10). It also comes with a thickened soy-sauce, garlicky chili sauce as well as a gingery mince. The only additional item that I thought I've never seen at the original version was a 皮蛋 mousse which was pretty interesting.
- The chicken sold in HK's 海南少爺 is 冰鮮, but it had a pretty good bit of chicken flavours, more so than many so called fresh chicken shops. The overall chicken texture was also still quite fresh but obviously not as good as that of a real fresh chicken, the skin was somehow thickish rubbery than fresh elastic. The thing is, almost ALL chickens sold in Singapore are 冰鮮 status anyway, so HK is already luckier. Yet, they still managed to marketise themselves to become one of most famous cities for Hainanese Chickens. So for the stubborn people who insists on having fresh chicken everytime, may I suggest the next time you stop-over in Singapore, don't bother eating their Hainanese chicken. Like, save it for me!
- The Chicken Rice (雞飯) here is made mostly from chicken stock as well as herbs, but most noticeably Galangal (南薑) instead of Turmeric (黃薑).
- Unlike what local eaters believe or has sometimes been mis-translated into Chinese on the menu, in reality, 雞飯 Chicken Rice traditionally is not really sub-divided into categories of being either a 雞汁飯 or 雞油飯. All proper 雞飯 will always be cooked with chicken stock anyway, and the oil in the recipe is not essentially only chicken oil either, but partially vegetable based oil used for frying herbs, garlic, ginger, shallots and for rendering more chicken fat oil to extract their flavours, before the rice is then slightly fried together in this combined oil mixture. This oil mixture is absorbed by the grains and gives out the aroma and glossy coating. The pre-fried rice grains are then further finished by cooking it in chicken stock - the latter also automatically carries some sort of supplementary chicken oils due to the way of how this stock was produced. Traditionally, Singaporean chicken rice is not very browned nor very yellow in appearance, they're actually quite whitish, unless you're talking about the Malaysian versions. Obviously, personal interpretations differ in each individual. Ask any Hong Kongers what they think they know of sweet and sour pork, wonton noodles or egg tart - they will all have their own idealised versions they like but it doesn't mean its always true, speaks for the whole population or really is out there. Same applies when you ask a Singaporean what they think of their Hainanese chicken or Turnip Cakes or Laksa, yet their restaurants all make small variations.
- I could imagine the HK Eaters sounding the death knell for this shop at this stage already, because the version at 海南少爺 really does not carry so much oiliness in coating and flavour for the rice. Well let's all condemn it to death and blame it for being untraditional then? But have you recently been to Singapore to even know what you're talking about? Even the original Chatterbox or other famous shops Chicken Rice don't really carry as much shiny oiliness coating as we Hong Kongers think it should. The version here tasted mostly of galangal, but not enough Chicken stock or Chicken oil coating, but it was still fragant from what seemed like coconut milk somehow. I wouldn't say this is as good as the original Chatterbox version, I think its probably only 70% as good, but then again the versions I ate in Singapore aren't anywhere near what our so-called Hong Konger's Idealised 'chicken oil' version either.
FRIED CHICKEN SET - NORMAL
The Fried Chicken version is also a Singaporean specialty. as its considered a Hainanese Chicken as well, unlike Thai and original Hainanese versions. This chicken was ok-smooth, even the breast section was ok, it came with some thigh meats too - its certainly better than the version served at Sergeant Chicken in the Food Republic Foodcourts, at least this carried some more chicken taste!
FRIED TURNIP CAKE - DARK VERSION
Chai Tow Kway is a Teochew or Chiuchow derived dish with a twist, but the darker one we ordered in reality is more related to Malaysian cuisine than Singaporean in execution. The one here had a good texture as unlike the ones at 好時沙嗲, 沙嗲軒, SHIOK, etc, this wasn't clumped together like a overly moist mess. It was fried well and independently dry, a good job, with some eggs to complement it all. Unfortunately, this is where its advantage ends, as it simply lacks exotic flavourings from say dried shrimps, pickled veggies (菜甫), dark soy or chili paste that we had come to expect, hack it even lacked radish taste or spring onions on top in the end. The SHIOK's darker version in comparison, tasted much more exotic and with some sambal served on the side too - pity the Shiok one kinda lacks the right texture as it was overly mushy the 1 time I went there. The one here is not that good, but so aren't most versions I've tried out there.
One can already imagine HK'ers are going to trash this place simply because it does not serve fresh chicken (even though same applies in Singapore), its rice is not as chicken oily as we think it ought to be. Granted the original Singaporean versions probably have more flavours and oiliness than the Hainan ShaoYe one, I still think our expectations are set a little too high compared with reality and the original recipes. The real Hainan rice version in fact, are sometimes served as compressed rice balls, something also served in parts of Malaysia!
- Having said that, I DO AGREE on a personal level, I like the slightly more chicken oil-essence filled rice than the one served here. Not because it is wrong and inauthentic, but because of personal preference. If you want a better chicken rice, I think 楊氏肉骨茶 served me the best version so-far in Hong Kong that I've tried (pity about their mediocre chicken!). But that's not to say I will dismiss this place just because it doesn't serve what I personally wanted - because it really is very close to the authentic Singaporean versions. Even if it is not our idealised Singaporean Version we think we know but we don't.
- Its hard to rate this shop fairly. Expectations are high, but were your expectations even rightfully justified? Rated against AUTHENTICITY, I think this shop really deserves a High '4' or Low '5' at least. Rated against our own personal preference and interpretation of how it could be better, however, I will rate this as a high '3' or low '4' only. Its not the best.
- Some HK shops out there, if they would even listen to the HK Customers constructive comments and alter rather than staying put with their familiar recipe - 1 day, we could possibly make better Hainanese Chicken Dishes than anywhere else in the world, including Singapore. Anyone want to take on this feat?