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Nov 25, 2009 12:10 AM

Hainan Chicken Rice or Khao Man Gai Recommendations in the Bay Area?

With the cold weather and inspired by this LA board post on the best Hainan Chicken Rice in OC/LA (, I did a search on the SF boards and came across Kopitiam in Lafayette a few times. As luck would have it, they've closed and I missed the earlier announcement on the boards.

Does anyone have any recommendations for Hainan Chicken Rice in the Bay Area? Or better yet, the Thai variation, Khao Man Gai? I tried KMG it for the first time in Portland at Nong's on 10th and Alder, and am craving more.


Edited to Add: ...still getting used to search - just ran across this recent Khao Man Gai thread (, so maybe more Hainan Chicken Rice recs.?

Kopitiam Restaurant
3647 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

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  1. I've always enjoyed the version of HCR at Cafe Salina, in Millbrae, but haven't had any others in the Bay Area for comparison's sake. Actually, we usually order the Hainan chicken a la carte, and then have it, along with other dishes, with an order of their excellent fried rice (the one where they just use the egg whites).

    Cafe Salina
    235 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030

    1. I was disappointed by Kopitiam's Hainan rice. I liked Singapore-Malaysian's version better, the rice is really rich with chicken fat and juices. I'm pretty sure they don't make it in the traditional way, where the chicken and rice are cooked together, but to me it's all about the rice anyway.

      Damn, my impression was today was going to be Kopitiam's last day and I was thinking of going. But they're not answering their phone, so I guess that's that.

      Singapore Malaysian Restaurant
      836 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      8 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I second Singapore Malaysian's Hainan Chicken Rice! The rice is so flavorful and the chicken is tender and fantastic (I like both the fried preparation and the steamed). I've never tried Kopitiam's chicken rice, but having spent a lot of time in Singapore, I found that the Singapore Malaysian's version is better than most that i've had in Singapore.

        1. re: Noodlebabe

          I have some pics of the hainan chicken rice from singapore malaysian, abc, and san sun.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          " they don't make it in the traditional way, where the chicken and rice are cooked together"
          Are you sure about that? In Singapore and Thai not done. In Malaysia never seen it done, always in the broth.

          1. re: celeryroot

            The way I was shown it was not cooked together. Unless there is another way.

            1. re: celeryroot

              I just read that in a cookbook so maybe I was misinformed, or maybe some families do it that way.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                When I learned to cook this dish from a friend and from watching someone on Food Network make the chicken they were not cooked together. But there may or may not be a recipe in which they are cooked together.

                1. re: yimster

                  Wikipedia entry for hainanese chicken rice implicitly describes the method of cooking the chicken and the rice as separate entities. This is more obvious with the Chinese entry where they go into further specifics with regard to cooking time and the exact name of certain Chinese spices/herbs.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  My SO makes a homestyle Filipino recipe that is net similar to Khao man gai, but with the chicken cooked in with the rice, and the rice overall seasoned with spices and additionally flavored with the chicken broth/fat. But I agree with others that the restaurant-style so much discussed has always been described to me as the chickens cooked separately and the resulting broth used to make the rice. Also KK's post below referring to the other Hainan Chicken makes a lot of sense, as that is very common in Chinese restaurants. Actually, I would say that I see it more often described as Hainan chicken the Wenchang chicken, and in that context it is usually poached chicken, relatively salty, often served with ginger-scallion sauce and sometime with pickled vegetables, but doesn't generally involved seasoned or chicken-broth cooked rice.

            2. I know this sounds crazy, and there are probably (a lot) of people who will disagree, but I think the chicken rice at ABC in SF Chinatown is not bad. The accompanying soup is not my cup of tea (tastes strongly of iron with all the giblets), but the rice and the chicken are comforting. And the ginger-garlic sauce is pretty much spot on to the places I've been to Singapore. Take this with a grain of salt, I've only spent about four weeks total in Singapore, so I'm not an expert, but I did eat chicken rice regularly at various hawker stalls.

              Now if I could find some good nasi lemak and Malaysian fried chicken! And while we're at it, some laksa and carrot cake!

              1 Reply
              1. re: david de berkeley

                How is the HCR at Penang Garden on Washington in Chinatown ? Any inputs ?

                I had the laksa there a few years ago and it was a reasonable substitute- nowhere close to the one I've had in Singapore and Malaysia .

                Penang Garden Restaurant
                728 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94108

              2. Apart from the places mentioned in the other thread you've already seen, you might consider looking at Vietnamese places. They often have similar chicken rice dishes. I had a good one, with a lot of chicken flavor in the rice, but also a lot of black pepper, at Noodle Trends, on International Blvd in Oakland. (at about 4th or 5th avenue, I'm not sure).

                4 Replies
                1. re: twocents

                  Makes sense, since many Vietnamese restaurants are owned by ethnic Chinese Vietnamese. San Yang(?) on Stockton St. in Chinatown (next to Little Paris) has a good version of Hainan Chicken Rice, and a noodle counterpart too.

                  1. re: soupçon

                    That would be San Sun at 941 Stockton St. But are they still there? I thought one of the restaurants on that block had turned over last year, but don't recall which one.

                    San Sun
                    941 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      They're still there. I just went today.

                  2. re: twocents

                    com ga hai nam vietnamese version was good at Com Ga Nam An in SJ (rice light but sauces good)

                    Nam An Restaurant
                    348 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                  3. Kopitiam's chef is now doing delivery for Organic Chicken Rice. Their website, lists only limited delivery locations.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Mul

                      Fantastic, thanks 'hounds for all of the tips so far!

                      I emailed to see if they allow pickup - unfortunately, I don't live within the delivery areas but could drive to Berkeley...can't wait!

                      A co-worker mentioned that Thai House Express off Larkin in SF has a good rendition of KMG - has anyone tried it?

                      Thai House Express
                      901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      1. re: e_tsai

                        I'm not in their delivery zone either, would be interested to know if they'd allow pick up or meeting point in the area they have.

                        It looks like the chicken rice now has a soup; previously at Kopitiam they don't serve it w/ soup. Their facebook page has some pictures.