When residing in The Little Red Dot, chicken rice was one of my favorite food, so much so that i’d have that at least once a week. I had my to-go places and despite hearing that so-and-so was good and whatnot, i neither looked ’em up nor tried the famous or popular ones. Then, i wasn’t a food hunter* that i wasn’t that picky about where i eat. And let’s be real, chicken rice is ubiquitous one needs not go to a specific place or name for that; just stop by any hawker centre or food court, and chances are, the quality will please your taste buds. Of course there are better or worse versions of it, but for the most part, the taste won’t vary that much… that i think it’s rather impossible to rule out whose is the best.
(*i still am not, but let’s say now i’m more willing to travel a certain distance just to eat/try new places…)
That said, i’m curious to try the top picks and taste for myself how good they are compared to those from a regular chicken rice stall. Particularly since i’ve been craving for a nice meal ever since the May 28th episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (where they had a Southeast Asian gourmet deathmatch and Ohno exclaimed “Daisuki!” after the first mouthful of Wee Nam Kee‘s steamed chicken) yet can’t seem to find a decent one in The Big Durian. Of all the big names, i think i’m only familiar with Boon Tong Kee and Five Star. The first time i heard about Wee Nam Kee was when it opened a branch at The Breeze BSD City late last year.
To be fair, Ohno yummies nearly everything he eats, even the weird ones, but there’s something about his expression and the way he kept diggin’ in that convinced me to made a pit stop by the establishment during the Lebaran holiday last week on the way back from the nearby AEON Mall. It was also my first time coming to The Breeze, which is claimed to be “food and lifestyle experience destination.” At first i thought it would be all dining options like Pasar Ah Poong in Sentul yet it’s more like an open-air shopping center although the tenants are predominantly F&B outlets.
We arrived in late afternoon and didn’t see information desk, map, or signage so we toured the premise to locate our destination. I thus cannot specify where it is — around the center, perhaps? Its bright red sign should make it easy to spot though. I really like the wooden decor, earthen ambiance with colorful medium-sized lanterns hanging from the ceiling, cozy setting, and spacious seating arrangement. The restaurant has a second floor, but i think the total capacity isn’t that big. The menu ain’t that extensive for a Chinese restaurant though it offers a lot more “Nanyang-inspired dishes” than a regular chicken rice eatery. We came there for the chicken rice and that’s what we ordered.
[half chicken – steamed 96K]
You can get the one-person set for 49K or a bigger portion of chicken if you’re sharing: quarter is for 2 persons (67K), half for 3~4 persons (96K), and whole for 6~7 persons (188K). I’m a roasted chicken person, but my family prefer steamed more, so we got half steamed chicken, not knowing that we can half/half it. I mistakenly believed only the whole portion can be mixed, drats! I should’ve asked… =( They also have it in soya sauce option, which is pretty unheard of i guess, but from the pictures i saw online, the sauce is on the thick side it’s closer to oyster sauce instead. Rice-wise, it’s either plain (8K) or fragrant (13K) but what is chicken rice without Hainanese rice.
The chicken was out first, and i was surprised at the big serving. There wasn’t much cucumber beneath the heaps so it’s all mostly meat, which wew. Look at how appetizing it is! Rice was out next, and again i was surprised, this time at the color. I never see a Hainanese rice that brown before! Brown it a bit more and it will pass off as the rice that comes with braised duck dish. Also, am i the only one finding it odd that it’s served in a bowl? It’s crumbly, but despite named “fragrant rice”, i didn’t find it so. It lacks the kick i expected from a chicken rice; in fact, it’s quite bland i could get more taste from the thinly seasoned soup.
[fragrant rice 13K, prawn rolls in beancurd 48K]
Albeit a rice person, i ended up reaching for the chicken more, which lives up to expectation: tender, juicy, and smooth to the bite. It’s definitely the kind of chicken you’ll easily get from a chicken rice stall in Singapore. The same can’t be said about the sauce. First off, there was a lot of sauce i thought they gave us the soya sauce chicken by mistake. The mixture looks like that of a steamed fish dish and i personally didn’t think it complements the chicken. I also found the chili a letdown. The texture and color are perfect, but the taste lacks the zest and garlic flavor.
I nearly forgot we ordered prawn rolls in beancurd (48K) since the appetizer was served much later. No biggie, restaurants in the capital hardly get the sequence right anyway. From the picture on the menu, i expected it to be lumpia udang but turned out to be ngohiong instead. Sigh.
None of my family found it special though we all agreed the chicken was the best part of the dinner. As a result, i honestly can’t picture it as one of the best in
town Jabodetabek (it may be the better one), let alone in the city-state. However, i will need to try the original in Singapore to see if the quality is the same, cuz let’s face it, even though it’s run by the same owner, the taste can still vary.