Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Feb 26, 2009 11:09 PM

Singapore: Hawker Food Chowdown at Maxwell Rd Market

It was a pleasure to meet fellow CH Charles Yu from the Ontario (incl Toronto) board during his stopover in Singapore last week. Fellow CH from the Singapore board, Four Seasons, organized a Chowdown at Maxwell Rd Market, so Charles can try the famed Tian Tian chicken rice which CH folks have been consistently recommending.

Also tried other hawker food there like:
- Fried Hokkien noodles: essentially a mixture of stir-fried thick Hokkien egg noodles & thick white rice noodles, with pork, squid, chives & prawns thrown in, served with a squeeze of lime, and an accompaniment of chilli sambal to provide the heat factor;
- Fried koay teow: flat white rice noodles & yellow Hokkien noodles fried in pork lard & dark soya-sauce, to which are added cockles, squid, eggs, beansprouts, and sliced fishcake;
- Teochew-style fried oyster omelette: stir-fried eggs with tiny plump oysters, with unique crispy-gooey texture, a result of the addition of tapioca-flour mixture to the beaten eggs.

Verdict: Don't think Charles was too enamoured with Tian Tian's chicken - his first quip was "Why's the chicken skin so 'white' and not yellow?" - I'll let him blog about his S'pore experience himself.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes! I'm afraid its not 'Love at first bite', which I was originally hoping for!!

    Indeed, Tian Tian's chicken appeals more to Anthony Bourdain's palete than mine. Too soft and 'mushy'. My most memorable Hainan Chicken rice was in Hong Kong of all places. The place 'Taipayoh?!' in Hung Hum serves de-boned 'live free range' chicken that is full of 'chicken flavour' and a much chewier texture.

    The Maxwell's Fried Hokkien noodles was a bit bland in taste too. The version I had earlier inside the Orchard Hotel was more flavourful. In fact, for some funny reason, all the food we savoured at Maxwell were kind of 'bland'?! Particularly, the oyster pancake. The crispy texture was nice, but the filling was void of oyster flavour?!

    We didn't order any Satays or curries in Maxwell. However, I did make it up by having some great tasting ones at Newton Circus ( Satays ) and Holland Village (?!) ( Malaysian chicken curry ).

    To me, on this trip, food is secondary, its the 'company' and great conversation that counts!!


    6 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      I am not a fan of Tian Tian Chicken Rice but it has been voted as the most popular chicken rice stall on an internet survey. Like you, I prefer "kampung chicken" style (meaning organic) rather than the white fatty hormone-injected that is popular in Singapore. However, in evaluating Hainan Chicken Rice, "chicken" is just part of the equation, the "rice" and "chilli" are the other parts of equations that seem to be neglected on the analysis. Like wonton noodle, "wonton", "noodle" and "soup" are evaluated as well. I thought the "rice" at Tian Tian is pretty good but the "chilli" is not spicy enough and too bland for my taste bud.

      I agree the Hokkien mie and char kway teoh at Maxwell are very average. If you were willing to walk just 10 minutes away, the char kway teoh at Amoy Hawker Centre is much better but I guess the weather is simply too hot and humid to stroll on that day!!!

      As to "Taipayoh" at Hung Hom, I think it suits your Cantonese-style taste bud but my Singaporean friends living in Hong Kong have always complained to me there is no good chicken rice over there!

      Agree absolutely at the end oft he day, the companion and great conversation simply overwhelm the food!!!

      1. re: FourSeasons

        I loved the chicken @ Tian Tien. In France a white chicken is the natural chicken. In the states a yellow chicken is fed extra marigold petals (or something like that, Perdue?). Either way, I thought the chicken rice here was one of my all time fave dishes.

        1. re: MOREKASHA

          Next time you're in town, morekasha, give us an early heads-up. Maybe we can organize a chicken rice chowdown around town with other Singapore CHs. Some favored chicken rice spots:
          - Yet Con, Purvis St
          - Wee Nam Kee , Thomson Rd
          - Nam Kee, Upper Thomson Rd
          - Sin Swee Kee, Seah St
          - Boon Tong Kee, various outlets, but main one at River Valley Rd
          - Five Star Chicken Rice, also various outlets, but main one at East Coast Rd, Katong
          - Margaret Drive Hawker Ctr

          Also some good hotel-based outlets, e.g. Chatterbox @ Meritus Mandarin; Coffee Lounge @ Goodwood Park; Empire Cafe @ Raffles Hotel; Kopitiam @ Swissotel.

          1. re: klyeoh

            Believe me, I'd love to come back to Sing. Sing air discontinued their direct flight from NY w/super economy class. It's killing me! I love Singapore.

            1. re: MOREKASHA

              Have you tried the new Singapore Airlines A380, the economy class seat on the upper deck is quite comfortable.

              I like our Singapore-style Hainanese chicken rice, but the taste of chicken here tend to be blander than those in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong or Indonesia, maybe because we use fast-growing farmed chicken which NEVER gets to walk at all (they are simply cooped up in their standing-room-only cages from birth till death!).

      2. re: Charles Yu

        Charles, unlike you, most of my HK lady friends - middle-aged like me, actually preferred Singapore's Hainanese chicken, precisely for the very reasons you quoted, ie we want our chicken soft and mushy, he he! We don't prefer chicken in HK because it's too chewy! I guess there's a difference between what men like, and what women like.

      3. Whenever I'm at Maxrell Road Market, it's not the chicken rice or the porridge I head for (primarily as I'm a Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice fan). It's the ngoh hiang (both stalls are famous) and the goreng pisang!

        6 Replies
        1. re: raistlyn

          Pardon my ignorance! But, what are the two dishes you mentioned above?

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Ngoh Hiang (五香) is a Hokkien (Souhern Fujian) dish. It is like deep fried meat roll wrapped on bean curd skin. Pisang goreng is a Malay term for fried banana.

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Too embarrass to be called 'Master', that title belongs to KLyeoh!!!

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  Oh, puh-leaze!! Don't think I'm that knowledgeable in Singapore hawker/street foods - that, you'd need to talk to Makansutra's KF Seetoh, who's like a walking encyclopedia on where/what to eat.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Ooops, sorry for not explaining, and also for jumping in a month late or so. I'm just a UK-based Singaporean who a) used to work near Maxwell and b) isn't not sure when she'll next be back!

              And, in this case, I wasn't referring to just the deep fried meat roll; I was referring to the whole assortment that comes from any ngoh hiang stall (the pink roll of meat, the deep fried prawn fritters, fried tofu, century egg, spring rolls, bee hoon, etc.)!

          2. The original comment has been removed