hai nam chicken

Singapore Shiok! Chinatown, Sydney

One chicken to rule them all… that’s hai nam or hai nan chicken.  Noodlies, Sydney food blog reckons reducing it to just ‘boiled chicken’ doesn’t do this dish justice. Lovers of chicken appreciate being able to taste the flesh without other competing flavours. Of course, the chicken is enhanced with sauces, at Singapore Shiok! it’s two; thick soy and chilli.  Additionally, the chicken comes on a bed of light soy sauce and to avoid the chicken soaking up too much soy, there’s a layer of bean sprouts in between.  This is where the purists jack up: it’s too much embellishment on a dish that is meant to be very simple, side cucumber perhaps, but bean sprouts is one step too far.  I happen to love it!  For me, bean sprouts is faithful to the dish, it too, is a clean, simple taste and texture which doesn’t compete with the chicken.

If the accompanying rice isn’t cooked in chicken stock, move on because you’re getting a very inferior copy!  That applies to getting some plain slop as a side soup.  I am a traditionalist on this front at least, :).

hai nam chicken

There’s minor controversy over the name, too.  Some argue it’s hai nan chicken, as in the Chinese province where the dish apparently originates from. Over the years, as the dish spread across Asia and the rest of the world, the spelling has evolved to hai nam chicken.  I grew up with the latter spelling, but that’s another controversy I’ll be shying away from.

One debate I will enter is that the hai nam or hai nan chicken at Singapore Shiok! is one of my favourites, bed of bean sprouts and all!  The chicken is tender and flavoursome, I love the bed of soy and bean sprouts. The rice is cooked in chicken stock yielding it a wonderful colour and that soup is complex and tasty – no plain slop here!

Singapore Shiok!
Eating World Food Court, Harbour Plaza
25 Dixon St, Haymarket
0450 286 357

Singapore Shiok!* on Urbanspoon

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    • Jazzie Jay

      I am also a traditionalist on this front. Sure the bean sprouts bed is not only news, I reckon it is cheap. Differently if cucumbers are unavailable in Australian markets! As a true traditionalist, once I see anything else other than cues, tomatoes and the occasional asian (not even iceburg) lettuce as a salad bed for the juicy Hainanese Chicken, I will walk pass it – no apologies. Something the eyes can see got adulterated – the vendors will find it hard to convince me that their stock is authentic – its authenticity something I cannot see/decipher for myself visually.

  1. kewpie

    well, the island is called hainan. the cantonese pronounce it as ‘hoi LAM’ or ‘hoi NAN’… so i think over the years, there’s been a mashup… all the same. i suppose people will get it. in singapore, alot of the chicken rice stores serve chicken rice with bean sprouts. it’s cheap to buy, and the vendors can sell it for heaps! massive mark up in veges as u know…

    i gotta try singapore shiok soon! heard lots of it…

    • Thang Ngo

      On twitter someone reckoned if it has bean sprouts it’s not hainan/hainam chicken! Good to hear it’s common way to up the prices in Singapore, lol! Interested to know what you think of Shiok!

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