Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chatterbox Chicken Rice @ Meritus Mandarin Singapore: Singapore's best chicken rice?

To begin with; eating chicken rice in Singapore, knowing that the chickens come from Malaysia, is obviously asking for trouble or trying to be funny.

To step into Mandarin Meritus Hotel to eat chicken rice is pushing the limits.

To go to their 24 hour cafe, to eat chicken rice, a signature dish for a good 20 years invented or conceptualised by a German; i am speechless.

To go beyond speechless, a plate of chicken rice costs SGD22 before a 10% service charge and 7% GST. Thank god, cold water is free because a glass of soya bean will cost you a further SGD8.

But no, it is said that chicken rice in Chatterbox is legendary and has given people in the past like the Wife and the Friend, bragging rights for having tried what is supposedly the best chicken rice in Singapore. To the Singaporeans, if it is the best in Singapore, it is without doubt better than anything offered in Malaysia.

So yes, i was convinced to eat in Chatterbox. With the other option of a Lobster Singapore Laksa that would have cost me SGD28++, i hesitated and ordered the chicken rice, hopefully cooked with some ganja that would have got me high and make me forget that i just spent a ridiculous sum of money on something so basic, almost a staple dish to the mass public of Singaporeans or Malaysians for that matter.

The place is cosy but not exactly fine dining really. Its like a hotel lobby restaurant that serves you your buffet breakfast. Really hate the green light, screws up all your pictures.

Taste the legend of the German chef who decided to bring hawker food to hotel class back in the 70s. Seriously, they haven't looked back since. With high class chicken rice, lobster replacing prawns in laksa, i wonder if they have thought of using Iberico pig for Bak Kut Teh?

Despite being very casual, the serviette serves to tell you that it is no normal coffeehouse you are seated at.

So this is what you get for SGD22.

Thigh or Breast meat? Asking for the thigh and you will receive a generous portion of chicken. I suspect it is a piece of thigh and a drumstick per portion, great for big eaters and should be shared between for smaller eaters. While the chicken was smooth and actually "tasted" of chicken compared to the rather bland, probably frozen chicken we get, i had a much better version at Boon Tong Kee (to be blogged about later) which was much more smoother.

The rice though is simply marvelous. You are able to taste each grain of rice, infused with chicken essence. Slightly on the hard side but that allows you to enjoy every grain instead of spoonful of carbohydrates.

Chicken rice in Singapore is eaten with the following condiments; chilli sauce, ginger sauce and dark soya sauce. In Malaysia, you seldom find all 3 but usually two of the three are available. The main difference is that the sauces in Singapore are much more pungent and packed with flavour. The chilli sauce actually has a kick compared to the more sour waterish ones we get here and after eating the ginger sauce, don't attempt to kiss anyone. The dark soya sauce lends a hint of sweetness of everything.

So was it really worth SGD22? For bragging rights to have eaten possibly one of the most expensive chicken rice in Singapore, and probably the world, using the best of ingredients (ironically coming from Malaysia), go give it a try.

It may lure people like my friend who actually insisted to stay at Meritus Mandarin throughout a project he was handling in Singapore, so he could order their chicken rice through room service but surely, there must be a better chicken rice out there which will not cost you the same amount you will pay for 10 normal plates of chicken rice in Kuala Lumpur.

Address and contact details:

Level 5, Meritus Mandarin Singapore
333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867

Contact details:
6831 6288/91

(Call to check for halal status, didn't ask)

Friday/Saturday and eve of public holidays - 24 hours! My friends actually had it for lunch and again for supper at 5am, after clubbing!

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. If not for the hefty price tag, it would have been 4 stars but as a tourist who earns currency that is a pittance compared to the SGD, it would take alot more to part away with the money i spent that afternoon. If only they serve their rice separately, i will take away chicken from somewhere else.


Lindy said...

Looks delicious! But SGD 22?? Kinda expensive for chicken rice la. I prefer eating chicken rice in kopitiam. Much original that way. haha

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

lindy: its not kinda expensive, its VERY expensive.

jfook said...

I always like chicken rice with ginger sauce.

Sean said...

Ooh, I didn't realize that sg imports chicken from Msia... But makes sense, I guess... Not enuff space on the island for poultry farms?
So would u say that overall (forgetting the price), this ranks among the top 10 chicken rice u've ever tasted?

- m i c h e l l e - said...

My brother and mum had that when they were at Singapore, and they thought, "It was just OK OK only." In fact I think my mum said she preferred the eng ann corner shop one. :P

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

michelle: haha really? but i think the better chickens are all driven down to our neighbour.

sean: well top 10, definitely yes, its not hard really. yeah i have read some singapore chicken rice stalls get their chickens in msia..

jfook: plenty in sg, ginger sauce is abit hard to get by in KL though

eiling lim said...

This place is my annual pilgrimage for chicken rice. Yes, it's pricey but I felt happy paying for it. I just wished that it was RM22 and not SGD 22. hehe

Tummy Rumble said...

heard so much about it but haven't tried it myself.. thanks for sharing.. the pictures were enlightening :)

Jun said...

hahaha trust u, joe, chicken rice oso must go hotel and eat ;p

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

jun: trust my friend who coincidentally share one half of our names, also starts with jun. i was coerced to come along

tummyrumble: yeah i heard about it alot too.

eiling: somehow if u were to pay rm22 in msia, it seems kind of fine hor?

CUMI & CIKI said...

crazy ar.. so expensive. chis!

Bangsar-bAbE said...

I refuse to part with RM16 for a plate of chicken rice at Madan Kwan (because I don't like CR to begin with), so SGD22 is WAYYYY too overpriced for me!

But it does look good lar...either that, or you made it look good in pictures. =P

jason said...

Well, it looked like... chicken rice to me. This probably suits more to those who refuse to eat at hawker stall (I know a few ppl liddat)...

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

jason: well i dont think its about suiting people bcos the price difference is too huge sgd22 vs sgd2.80, those fellows better earn much more b4 refusing!

bbabe: well i dont think mdm kwan chicken rice is nice, i mean nasi bojari is so much better haha..but yeah its ridiculous to pay rm50 for a chicken rice.

c&c: exactly my thoughts..

UnkaLeong said...

Kah Fan free ar?

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

unkaleong: i think after that price tag, you dont want to know how much kah fan is lor, actually after that the huge portion, it is quite impossible to kah fan haha

iamthewitch said...

SGD22 for chicken rice definitely earns you bragging rights, but no thanks for me ok! LOL! I would rather save up the money for more variety instead of pooling it just for a plate of chicken rice. :) But still, thank you for enlightening us! ;)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

iamthewitch: haha yeah save up the money if you are not too big of a fan. man, the things i do for readers!

kampungboycitygal said...

i'll just pay for my sgd2.80 tian tian chic rice, thanks. hehe

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

kbcg: yeah, tell me abt it..

dexter said...

don't we all yearn for nostalgic ole Swee Kee chicken rice??

The "Carpark" Night stalls on orchard road,circa 1970s-80s?

Food quality slips and dine out prices call for an overdraft, or credit card limit extension..

Jon said...

You haven't tried Disney Honkong Hotel Chicken rice which cost HKG150.00. To add salt it doesn't even taste nice

Mr Lonely said...