Almost no matter where you are on the globe, you’ll find some sort of “chicken and rice” dish. Singaporeans perform their version with delicious justice. After all, chicken rice as a Singaporean staple is hands down one of the most popular food in Asia. One reason could be that it’s just soothing—exactly what you should order when you want to take a break from the usual fiery dishes. Almost every chicken rice I’ve ever sampled in their local hawkers was good. I have also come across a vegetarian chicken rice made from veggie meat which was equally good.
In the Philippines, one casual joint serving Hainanese chicken rice is Hainanese Delights. This fast food chain has several branches now all over the country. Hainanese Delights was opened by Chinese owners who already have other successful chains of restaurants under their belt. This time around, they have established Hainanese Delights which specializes in Singaporean cuisine. To invite more Pinoy foodies, they have this all-you-can-eat rice scheme offered to diners (just like Tokyo Tokyo, Mang Inasal, etc.) because Filipinos are known to love eating unlimited rice. ♥
After watching Monsters University on a Sunday, Louie and I passed by Hainanese Delights in Robinsons Place, Manila and decided to give their signature dish, chicken rice, a try and see if it matches the authenticity of the “original” Hainanese flavor as expected from its name.
Review of Hainanese Delights (Robinsons Place, Manila)
Simple and straightforward, the ambiance here is very fast-food-restaurant-like. With nice contrasting colors, the tables are black and the chairs are white. This branch has spacious area (both indoor and outdoor). Inside got minimalistic designs with pictures of food all on the walls. Spotlights on the ceiling made the place extra classy and quite elegant. Generally, it’s a good venue for hangouts with a bunch of friends.
Paying before you eat is a thing at Hainanese Delights. You can either sit down and be handed a copy of their menu before ordering and paying at the counter or proceed directly to the counter. In either way, wait staff would serve food on trays promptly and courteously.
When compared to the authentic chicken rice from Singapore (or Malaysia), Hainanese Delights’ chicken rice (PHp 130) is not very close. It tasted like ordinary steamed white chicken that was not too dry but rather supple and delicate.
The chicken pieces were not really seasoned well so you have to put a lot of ginger purée, dark soy sauce and chili sauce for it to taste strong enough and for your buds to accept and realize that it’s chicken rice you’re eating.
Of course, the “chicken rice” dish would not be complete when there’s no chicken rice which typically is cooked from the flavorful stock made from the oily fat of the chicken. Hainanese Delights’ rice, on the contrary, was not aptly gratifying; it failed to be a beautiful accompaniment to the chicken. In my humble opinion, I thought it was only spiced with salt and colored with light yellow to appear like the usual serving of chicken rice. Hmph. 🙁 The texture though was lovely as each grain was easily separated.
In addition to the supposedly “highlight” of our dinner, we had the [EAT THE HEAT] Spicy Fried Squid (PHp 190) that tasted decent. It was salty and spicy so we put lots of vinegar to enhance the taste even more. I could say it was worthy of our calories and thus made the night! 😀
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
A plate of chicken with rice, in average, costs S$3-4 in Singapore. So in conversion, the price is likely the same here. Basing on the prices alone, food in this restaurant are affordable. Budget per person is less than PHp 200.
Note: If you’re expecting to find authentic tastes then resorting to other restaurants like Wee Nam Kee, Makan Makan and Old Penang for chicken rice may most probably be a better idea.