Last Updated: February 24, 2021
It’s 2021; let’s make salted egg great again. Although it’s been a quiet two years after its 2019 craze, my love for the ingredient has been fiercely unwavering. Be it in a bag of crispy fish skin, or a flowy liu sha bao, this writer welcomes all permutations of this iconic food decked out in its signature yellow (or gold, as I see it).
For today’s agenda, I’ve selected one of my personal favourites—salted egg chicken. Deep-fried morsels of chicken, coated salaciously with glorious pools of salted egg sauce.
In today’s showdown, I’ve narrowed down the candidates to four contestants. Each is formidable in their own right, having garnered their own cult followings and steady streams of loyal customers.
I’ll have you know that as the resident salted egg expert, I take my role very seriously. Before dining at this quartet of restaurants, it’s only prudent to first lay down some ground rules as to what makes the perfect salted egg chicken.
First, the sauce: Savoury-sweet, creamy, thick, lightly spicy, and chock-full of salted egg aroma.
Then let’s not forget about the chicken, which should come hot, crispy, and with ample seasoning. Oh, and it will be fantastic if it was brined, but a boy could only dream.
I’ll be judging each restaurant with respect to these criteria. Yes, it’s all very systematic and professional, if I do say so myself. Without further ado, let us embark on a gastronomical escapade to answer one of life’s greatest and most pressing questions—no, not which came first, the chicken or the egg, but rather which salted egg chicken takes home the crown and is named victor?
This one needs little introduction. It’s tucked away in Sim Lim Square, an institution of all things IT and electronics. It’s a six-level behemoth of tech retailers—perhaps the last place you would suggest for an office lunch.
Yet, that’s precisely what Taste Good caters to. Here, your meal comes served in picturesque miniature woks and aptly portioned for one. Yes, eating is communal and all that, but sometimes, the greatest indulgences are best kept wholly private. With that, I deem it only fair for the rest of today’s visits to be accompanied by an individual’s serving. After all, consistency is fundamental in any proper and fair test.
Taste Good’s Salted Egg Chicken Rice ($5.90) makes an appearance on my table in all its mini wok swagger. Visually, it’s impressive. Luscious coatings of thick, dark-yellow salted egg sauce over chunks of boneless chicken meat make for a familiar sight to this aficionado. There’s also lettuce and a mound of white rice to boot because here, they are all for a balanced meal.
It’s not just about the looks though. Taste Good’s sauce proves thick and creamy, with a prominent, heady fragrance of salted egg. There’s also a kick of spice from the chopped chilli padi that leaves my mouth tingling. It’s almost perfect, except that the flavours here are slightly too sweet, rendering it a tad one-note at places.
However, when it comes to the chicken department, Taste Good’s iteration falls a little short. Perhaps the meat had been left to sit out of the fryer for a while, but all those heavy slatherings of sauce leave me with soggy chunks of chicken meat. It lacks the crispness of properly fried chicken, which is a real shame when you consider the rather excellent salted egg sauce.
Here’s an interesting factor to make this battle all the more exciting—this establishment is only a few units down from Taste Good. That’s right, Rice Bowl Gold also sits within Sim Lim. Perhaps there’s an inexplicable affinity between IT products and salted egg dishes. It’s dangerously close to its salted egg neighbour, though it’s also the newer kid on the block.
Here, salted egg takes on a greater point of pride for the restaurant. There’s pictures of wok-tossed salted egg chicken hung up on the wall—a gallery of salted egg, if you will. It’s immediately clear that they take their rendition very seriously, even when faced with the immense popularity of Taste Good just three doors down. I place my order at the counter and wait with bated breath and bubbling excitement.
A strong wave of déjà vu sets in upon its arrival. Rice Bowl Gold’s Salted Egg Ricebowl (S$5.50) bears some striking similarities to the bowl, or in this case, mini wok from Taste Good.
The presentation is uncanny, featuring similar miniature woks for serving and a healthy pile of chicken alongside white rice. An interesting take on the Singaporean expression, same-same but different.
Portions here are noticeably larger, with a generous heap of fried chicken chunks swimming in a pool of sauce. A fried egg is thrown in as well, because how can one ever have too much egg, am I right?
Unfortunately, portions aside, Rice Bowl Gold’s sauce fails to impress. I don’t quite get the same strong whiff of salted egg as before. It’s thinner and more diluted while tending toward a milky sweetness that isn’t all that appetising. Was this refrain due to rising raw salted egg costs or just a bad day in the kitchen?
The chicken, though, is cause for celebration. Utterly crispy pieces of meat come cleanly battered and lovingly brined, making for an intensely enticing mix of flavours that whet the appetite. If only the sauce was up to par.
Perhaps in an ideal world, the sauce from Taste Good and the chicken here could come together to make one killer bowl of salted egg chicken. But let’s not harp on the what-ifs in life.
Next on the agenda is none other than Jia Yuen Eating House, which fellow writer, Nicole, visited back in 2019. This is one eatery which has been making its rounds on social media for its plates (yes, not mini woks) of salted egg goodness.
The menu here is impressively varied, boasting a slew of dish-and-rice options and an array of sauce choices to boot. Though you know what I’m here for.
I spring for the Creamy Salted Egg Chicken (S$8). Take note, because there’s also a non-creamy variant (just ‘Salted Egg Chicken’) that is void of sauce and served dry. For the purpose of this showdown, the creamy iteration is decidedly more apt, when taking the other plates into consideration.
It is only prudent to discuss the visuals of this plate, as the eight dollar price tag might deter some. Indeed, it is the most expensive of the lot, but don’t discount the servings here. You get a sunny-side-up, a scoop of white rice, and a generous slathering of saucy, fried chicken chunks.
Jia Yuen’s sauce is thick, rich, and fiercely savoury. The fragrance of salted egg definitely comes through, but I do long for a tinge of sweetness amidst all those salty punches of flavour. It’s not the delicate balance of savoury-sweet which I’m yearning for, but I’ll commend its unabashed salted egg aroma.
The fried chicken, however, is a little disappointing. The pieces of meat are noticeably smaller and less chunky, with only a handful properly and thoroughly battered. Don’t get me wrong, I love to snack on fried crispy bits. After all, I’m human too. Yet, this pairing of batter and heavy-going sauces does make this plate of salted egg chicken inevitably cloying. I’m still swooned for the first few mouthfuls, though the satisfaction was but temporary.
By now, I gather that we’ve been adequately acquainted. You’ve already seen my likes and dislikes, so we’re basically friends. Too sweet here, too salty there. It’s all very Goldilocks-esque, and I’m not apologising. Aren’t we all the most stern with the ones we love?
That brings me to GLC Hao Yun Lai Restaurant, where the last plate awaits. If I weren’t here with such a focused agenda in mind, I’d be seriously spoilt for choice. GLC’s menu is frighteningly extensive, from wok-fried noodles to plates of chicken rice. I’ll be back for those. For now, their Salted Egg Chicken Dice Rice (S$5.80) deserves all my attention.
This one’s fuss-free in its presentation, presenting a blanket of fried egg and sizeable chunks of meat alongside white rice. I’m sold on the first bite. Here, the fried chicken comes crispy, juicy, and boldly seasoned on its own. Addictive is what it is, and I’d happily succumb to its allure. Servings here aren’t the biggest, but these sizeable chunks of chicken will more than satisfy.
It’s all bound together by a sauce that is equal parts salty and sweet, while still brimming with unmistakable notes of salted egg. There’s a gentle kick of spiciness that proves just enough to poke your senses.
Together, it’s the stuff of dreams. Well, my dreams, at least. I clean, mop-up, and polish the plate in seconds. My only gripe? I wish for more generosity with the sauce and am desperately looking to see if they sell it by the tub. They don’t, which honestly, is a damn shame.
This salted egg showdown leaves me pleasantly surprised with its outcome. It’s always fun to discover new nooks, especially when we’re dealing with a dish so close to my heart. And in the case of this tussle, I pronounce GLC Restaurant as the clear victor.
There’s a neat balance of flavours here in the sauce that comes hand-in-hand with excellent fried chicken. It checks all the right boxes, which make this plate of salted egg chicken one to be heavily enamoured by and demanding of returns. I implore you to come down for a taste if you haven’t. You might see me there, gobbling down a plate myself. Don’t be shy, come over. We could debate about salted egg all day long.