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This first week of the Chinese New Year, what better way to usher in the Fire Rooster than with a luscious plate of Singapore’s favourite chicken rice? Our intrepid Guru of Gluttony and Makan Maniac behind the Makansutra, KF Seetoh is excited to reveal his die-die-must-try recommendation. Arguably, chicken rice is a subjective thing – everyone has their favourite, but you simply cannot dispute the fame of the Sin Kee name. Seetoh waxes lyrical about the famous stall run by the Leong family in Margaret Drive back in the 70s – anyone else remember it? Sadly it disappeared, then reappeared in Mei Ling Street under the skills of one of the sons, Benson Leong. But then again, that disappeared too. Seetoh chooses not to speculate on the story, although he was pleased to find the other headline-grabbing brother Niven Leong operating his version, called Uncle Chicken in Bedok and that’s where he found Benson helping out briefly. But foodie friends, rejoice, because Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice is back, alive and clucking in Holland Drive!
Benson Leong, like his brother Niven, with years of training under the watchful eye of his late father, has reopened in a koptiam and within the first week of his stall reopening, Seetoh was there to give the chicken rice a try. Things weren’t quite in fully operational mode then (they are now), but the chicken rice was exactly as Seetoh remembers it back in the good old Margaret Drive days.
Benson uses BIG birds (over 2kg), so that the cuts of chicken parts are chunky and substantial. He uses a bold hand and with his trusty blade, those thick, juicy chicken breasts get a special “slam & chop” that tenderizes the skin-on meat, flattening it and making it slightly crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth.
As for the rice, this is tried and true, from scratch, quality stuff! The rice is first dry-fried with chicken fat, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, pandan leaf till all the aromatics penetrate the grains, before a sinfully rich chicken stock is added. The result, a gently steamed chicken rice that’s firm to the bite, slightly oily (but not unpleasantly so) and packed with “chickeny” flavour!
The chilli is also on point. Though, watery-looking, it packs a punch with its balanced combination of dried and fresh chillis, garlic, ginger, kalamansi and vinegar. It’s tangy, sharp and spicy with a bite, all at the same time!
So if you’ve been searching for that old Sin Kee taste you’ve yearned for and you want a chicken rice that ticks all the boxes, you’ll find it in the ressurected Sin Kee Famous Cantonese (yes, NOT Hainanese!) Chicken Rice, run by Benson Leong.
You’ll find more details the 2017 edition of Makansutra or online here.
Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice
Blk 40 Holland Drive, Chang Chen Mee Wah Coffeeshop
Open daily: 11am – 8pm
* all photos courtesy of Makansutra.com