We tried Singapore’s worst-rated chicken rice stall

It’s hard to find a chicken rice stall in Singapore that has a particularly low rating. Our main criteria for considering establishments for this worst-rated series are that they must be operational for at least 1 year and have a minimum of 100 online ratings. This time, our destination was Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice.

hengheng - storefront

Situated in the buzzing tourist haven of Chinatown and in Maxwell Food Centre at that, Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice certainly enjoys a prime location. At time of writing, 110 reviewers have accorded it an average 3.3-star rating. Like I said, it’s hard to find a Singaporean chicken rice stall with an abysmal rating. And I love that.

Does Heng Heng truly create the worst rendition of our unofficial national dish, or was the online jury simply harsh? Let’s delve into my experience.

What I tried at Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice

hengheng - plate of chicken rice

I was shocked. My order of Roasted Chicken Rice (S$5) had just been set on my table and it looked like something from the Miniverse.

Small size aside, the fact that it arrived on a Styrofoam plate stood in stark contrast to the usual presentation. Such poor presentation left a bad taste in my mouth even before I began.

hengheng - closeup of chicken

To be fair, though, the chicken itself looked reasonably appetising with its brown char-wrinkled skin glistening atop the luscious-looking chicken. It came with the standard accompaniments of chilli sauce, ginger sauce and soup.

I found the chicken half-decent. It was soft and not dry as some people had told me they had found it. The skin wasn’t the crispy, crackling delight one expects, and settled for an average chew instead. Nothing special here and I have had homemade chicken rice that surpasses this.

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The real letdown was the rice. Devoid of the fragrant perfume that defines Hainanese chicken rice, it was an unfortunate mix of stickiness and undercooked grains, more reminiscent of leftover rice than a culinary masterpiece. 

hengheng - soup and chilli closeup

The accompanying chilli sauce, heavy on vinegar and lacking heat, did little to salvage the situation. The “soup” was a watery cabbage affair, offering no hint of the rich chicken stock that should be its heart.

With each of the individual components besides the chicken itself failing to live up to the mark, the entire meal was a flop for me.

Final thoughts

Priced at S$5, Heng Heng’s Hainanese Chicken Rice falls short on multiple levels. The lack of fragrance in the rice, the underwhelming chicken, and the watery soup left me questioning the fundamentals of the dish. I would rate this stall 3 stars.

While the chicken itself wasn’t terrible, it couldn’t compensate for the other shortcomings. While I wouldn’t say it’s the absolute worst Hainanese chicken rice out there, it certainly fails to live up to the expectations associated with this beloved Singaporean dish. I don’t know if the 5-star reviews online were from tourists or locals but I suspect the majority would be from the former.

hengheng - uncle at stall

I have to commend the uncle who single-handedly runs Heng Heng, though. My verdict on the food aside, I can really appreciate all the hard work he does on his own here.

My admiration for his hard work aside, I would still say that this is a stall to avoid if you are a fan of chicken rice. There are far better renditions of Hainanese chicken rice to be found even in Maxwell Food Centre that will satisfy your cravings without breaking the bank, and they also offer larger portions.

Expected damage: S$5 – S$7 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 3 / 5

興興海南雞飯Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice

1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-84, Singapore 069184

Our Rating 3/5

興興海南雞飯Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice

1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-84, Singapore 069184

Operating Hours: 9am - 9pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 9am - 9pm (Daily)