Last Updated: February 18, 2019
When it comes to naming an iconic Singapore’s national dish, I believe most of us would instinctively say it’s Chicken Rice.
Whether you’re on team steamed or roasted chicken, a good ol’ plate ultimately boils down to the fragrant rice, chilli sauce and that juicy and tender chicken.
For me, my favourite stall is Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice in Farrer Park, just across Mustafa Centre. Named after its location along Sam Leong Road, the popular hawker stall has been operating for 20-odd years and counting.
It’s nostalgic just reminiscing over the fond memories on how my family would dabao (take-out) this chicken rice whenever I was craving it, despite being a great distance away from home.
I’m sure everyone has their one favourite stall in Singapore, be it the childhood memories it holds or the delectable pairing of two simple ingredients.
I’m not here to convince you but rather, share this hidden gem and award it the due recognition it deserves.
Instead of getting the standard plate of chicken rice, it’s more worth it to get the portion of Half Chicken (S$15) if you’re with a party of three to four pax. To appease everyone’s palates, we had a mix of steamed and roasted chicken.
By far, Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice serves up the largest of portions. I might sound biased but trust me — the sheer sight of this portion is enough to persuade you.
For all the years I’ve indulged in this delicacy, I’ve never seen them compromise on the amount of meat they serve up nor have they increased their price ludicrously.
Just looking at the roasted chicken skin glisten under the light makes it all too mouth-watering. If there’s better than eating chicken rice at home, it’s got to be having it hot and fresh at the stall itself.
The succulent roasted chicken was a crowd-favourite at Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice and you could tell from the ratio of steam to roasted chickens hanging on display at the shopfront.
Undoubtedly, it was my preferred option of the two as well. The slightly viscous skin had great flavour and wasn’t too lacklustre like some others I’ve tried. It’s evident that the aged owner and his years of experience have truly assisted in this master technique.
Plus, the meat was juicy and tender, including the serving of chicken breast, which is commonly known to be tougher and drier as compared to other parts. Altogether with the dressing sauce, cilantro and cucumber, this made a perfect, rustic meal.
The steamed chicken was equally as favourable and had a tasty and tender bite to it. It’s worth noting that Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice serves up chicken in thick slices which really allows you to sink your teeth into the piquant meat.
I’m personally not too big of a fan of steamed chicken because I don’t quite fancy the slimy skin. Nonetheless, to each his own and I trust this will appease the pro-steamed chicken fans out there.
A standard plate of Roasted Chicken Rice only costs S$3 but if you’re a bigger eater, the team at Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice also do S$4 and S$5 portions.
They’ve also got some as sides, such as Braised Egg (S$1) and others but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Let’s talk about the aromatic rice. I’m pretty sure we can all agree when I say that that fragrant, chicken rice staple wins white rice any day. Yet because of the rise in chicken rice stalls, it’s hard to have a simple component stand out as a star.
This rendition was both buttery and sharp in spice and I could taste subtle hints of garlic, shallots and pandan leaves — although this is just a wild guess.
As much as it’s fantastic on its own, I enjoyed drizzling some ground ginger, dark sauce and chilli to take my plate up a notch.
Ah, here’s something I always have to order when I’m here. Besides the laudable chicken rice, they also offer a range of braised sides. I usually stick to a single portion of Braised Egg (S$1), Braised Tau Pok (Firm Beancurd) (S$1) and Braised Tau Pok (Tofu Puff) (S$0.50).
There’s something about these conventional sides that just heightens my ideal bowl of chicken rice. Freshly stewed daily with a mix of herbs and spices, the ordinary complements are an earthy addition you simply can’t miss out on.
Definitely, nothing to roar about but certainly something worth trying.
Each order also comes with a bowl of soup, boiled with lotus roots, chicken feet, garlic and ground nuts. They’re no soup connoisseur but this modest bowl takes the cake.
The nourishing bowl had sweet, earthy notes from the lotus roots which just reminds you of home. Simply delightful.
The competition is real here in Singapore and its a sport on its own to name the ultimate best plate of chicken rice. As an earnest customer of Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice, I definitely have not had enough versions to compare and dubbing this the best would be partial on my end.
Yet for me, it needs no Michelin star nor any other acclaimed food award to be good. Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice remains popular amongst its loyal following and as for the owner, making his customers happy with his food is all he wants.
Expected Damage: S$3 – S$5 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Sam Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice
5 Verdun Road, Singapore 207274
5 Verdun Road, Singapore 207274