Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice (阿仔海南鸡饭), Maxwell Food Centre

The story behind Ah Tai (#01-07 Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street) is a local legend amongst these parts. With people who are fans enough of chicken rice to bother with anyway. Word was that Ah Tai used to be the chef at Tian Tian and struck out on his own after a fallout from a disagreement. The rest of the details, you can Google.

Tian Tian as many would know was catapulted into international arena by Anthony Bourdain. I ate there years ago and never had the opportunity to return mainly because I don't come here so often these days and their queue tells me that I have better ways to waste my time. If word was to be believed that the standards of chicken rice between Tian Tian and Ah Tai are similar, Bourdain was definitely missing out on the world of chicken rice.

Let me try to keep this short. What I liked about Ah Tai was their tender slurp off the bone chicken and the lime-y chilli which was a very good accompaniment to their rice. What I didn't like about them was the weak flavoured beady rice which has got nothing on my numero uno stall (I wonder where those guys went) and possibly a slew of other stalls. Which to me was ironic for the oft measured trinity of chicken rice since a lesser rice meant more opportunity for the use of the chilli sauce. Those starchy brown sauce that they ladled over their chicken also didn't quite work out for me.

I probably will not remember them for an awesome chicken rice experience even though they were definitely pretty decent. I've had better. And I certainly wouldn't waste my time over at Tian Tian because as nice as it could be - it cannot be that good.

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