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Whole Chicken Stuffed with Sticky Rice - SF Dish of the Month (Oct 2012)

Announcing the October 2012 San Francisco Bay Area Dish of the Month: Whole Chicken Stuffed with Sticky Rice

Link to Voting Thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871235
Link to Nomination Thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/870874

The goal is to collectively try as many versions of whole chicken stuffed w/ sticky rice as possible during the month of October! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

Looking forward to seeing what people try!

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  1. Very exciting! Here are a few older threads about the dish (albeit listing a bunch of closed places):


    This is a new dish to me, and it seems like it requires 24 advanced notice in a lot of places. In a meal with other dishes, amongst how many people is this dish typically split?

    1 Reply
    1. re: hyperbowler

      Feeds 10 people and then some as part of a dinner banquet.

      Cornish game hen size feeds one or two people.

    2. Ming's Diner 's tasty glutinous rice stuffed spring chicken is easy on the budget at $8.25 and fits well as a dish to share within a meal for a group of 4-6 (see attach pic). It may only be listed in Chinese only on the menu however, so one may have to ask for it if one does not read or speak the language.

      Alternatively, I have also purchased it as just a single take-out order. Advance ordering is not necessary. Leave the top of the take-out box uncovered in transport to preserve the crispy skin as much as possible prior to reaching home and consumption.

      11 Replies
      1. re: CYL

        thank you for the alert re. Ming's Diner (is that in SF on Taraval ?) under what (Cantonese ?) moniker does it go by there, if one does order it by its Chinese label -- ngoh mai gai ? ['sweet rice chicken'] ? gracias.

        1. re: moto

          Ngoh Mai Churn Gai (Churn for Spring) - glutinous rice Spring chicken.

          1. re: moto

            In the past they had full version of this dish for about 25 dollars and it was the cheapest I have seen, I have not had this dish our for many years. So am not sure if it is still there.

            I do remember that it was very good.

            1. re: moto

              糯米春雞 “Nor Mai Churn Gai” - Sweet Rice Stuffed Poussin (spring chicken).

              The stuffed spring young chicken is only $8.25. It is upwards to $30 and above for the large chicken version (and it has to be ordered in advance). It was only $6.50 four years ago when Yimster first revealed Ming’s Diner to the Chowhound world. It’s a whole, young stuffed chicken - two wings, two legs and entire body spread flat covering a 10 inch plate and is 1-1/2 to 2 inches high. I’ve had it again on multiple occasions during the last several months – both in the restaurant and on take-out. The deep fried skin was very crispy and the stuffing was moist and tasty with shredded chicken, chopped lop cheong sausage and dried shrimp bits throughout. Ming’s Diner has both - the spring chicken, perfect for small groups and the large chicken to suit larger banquet-size gatherings.

              1. re: CYL

                As I remember it the 6.50 price was eight years ago which is not bad for raise to 8.50. The price for the full size was only 18 as I remember it. Need to revisit someday soon. Ming Diner had a large Chinese only menu which I hope they translated.

                1. re: CYL

                  Take out and no advance order for the small one? Am I understanding this correctly?

                  1. re: wally

                    Yes and no, there is normally no advance order need. But it may not in stock. So it is wise to call ahead to make sure they have it on hand I have ordered this dish at least 7 times and only once it was not available.

                    1. re: yimster

                      I've dropped in twice when in the neighborhood unexpectedly, and the spring chicken was sold out both times. I was advised to call early in the day to reserve one for my arrival next time.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        The last time I was at Ming's Diner was well over six years ago. So I am sure thing have changed.

                        Thanks for the tip.

              2. re: CYL

                + 1 for Ming's Diner spring chicken - still as tasty as ever.

                1. re: RWCFoodie

                  $8.25 Take Out is still as tasty as ever for hot lunch today at 11:30 am.

                  2129 Taraval Street
                  between 31st Ave. & 32nd Ave.

                  Daily: 11am-10pm

              3. The one at Cooking Papa Foster City is $45 + tax, very large sized, and requires 3 days advanced order, is a pretty decent rendition.

                The glutinous rice is moist and quite flavorful (although a bit too moist for my liking), and the tasty sauce provided on the side is more than enough enjoyment for the whole stuffed bird (there will be extras to go around).

                It is important to note that a properly done/traditional version should have the following characteristics

                - completely deboned on the inside, or as much as possible. (Cooking Papa's rendition even removes the bone in the wings, whereas last time I had it at Yum's the bones in the wing were not removed, but that's very minor)

                - The exterior of the chicken, while deep fried, should not be battered like typical salt and pepper fried chicken wings that you get in the deli's and supermarkets and some restaurants. It should resemble the Cantonese fried chicken "za zi gai", and have a crispy roast duck like consistency.

                - the stir fried glutinous rice should not be too moist, and the way to cook it traditionally is to start with raw grains, and cooking it while constantly stirring...in a way similar to how one might cook risotto. It should also at least have some Chinese sausage (lap cheong) inside

                - the traditional presentation is to include the head. It's basically a non molecular reconstruction of the chicken, and while the head is off putting for some, it's part of the plating visual experience.

                Far too often in order to save time, glutinous rice is pre-steamed/pre-cooked then stir fried, pretty much how they do it at all dim sum restaurants despite calling it "raw stir fry glutinous rice" in Cantonese (which is misleading). The traditional way takes a lot longer and is suppsoedly not very healthy, but the difference in taste is hard to top.

                Highly recommend spending the coinage at Yum's (where presentation and general look & feel is closer to traditional preps in Hong Kong) and/or Cooking Papa (more palatable if you prefer a more moist interior) at least to try out the real deal once.

                For an el cheapo version, you can get glutinous rice stuffed chicken wing for $6 during dim sum at Zen Peninsula (it's on the checksheet menu).

                3 Replies
                1. re: K K

                  And here's the version at Yum's Bistro

                  1. re: K K

                    Here's my photo of the version at Yum's Bistro from our chowdown last year.

                    That was the only time I've had an unbattered version. Amazing.

                  2. re: K K

                    We went to Cooking Papa FC today and their chicken was indeed good. A more detailed thread has begun here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/874712

                  3. Ming's Diner's “Nor Mai Churn Gai” - Sweet Rice Stuffed Poussin (spring chicken) is still my favorite version for immediate gratification.
                    Another One Day Advance order for Golden Chicken with Sweet Rice at Kwang Tung Restaurant
                    12056 San Pablo Ave
                    Richmond, CA 94805
                    (510) 236-9498

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Cynsa

                      Golden Chicken with Sweet Rice at Kwang Tung Restaurant

                      1. re: Cynsa

                        When did you have this dish at Kwang Tung?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          My friends had this dish on Friday; I had it with them at the end of July... and they had it earlier in July, too. It's a popular rendition but no one nibbles on those colorful shrimp chips. Will you join us on the next round? Could be the next chowdown for lunch. Parking is easy.

                          1. re: Cynsa

                            Thanks, wanted to be sure it was current. There must not be any kids at the table or those shrimp chips would be gone.

                            So, we now have a lot of research done on where to find this dish. Time to find more examples this month and eat!

                            Edited to add:
                            This post has links to the regional chowdown groups to sign up to get in touch with fellow chowhounds about organizing meet-ups/chowdowns.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              next time I will date the photo for you

                      2. re: Cynsa

                        Any idea how much it is at Kwang Tung?

                        1. re: kc72

                          the Kwang Tung menu from 2006 on menuism.com lists it at $28, and the ideograms they use are 'sweet rice golden chicken' with the 'gold' (jin) ideogram in place of 'spring'. they appear to be a old school Cantonese/east bay kind of place, resembling what more places in oaktown were 30-40 years ago.

                          1. re: moto

                            Yeah, never had dinner there but it's one of the few places in East Bay that still serve Hung Tao Yee Wonton -- only reason I've gone there in past few yrs.

                      3. Does anyone know where to get this dish in the South Bay?

                        1 Reply
                        1. Interested in folks' views re this dish @ Little Hong Kong in El Cerrito, recommended in last week's East Bay Express:


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sundeck sue

                            I just had Little Hong Kong's this past weekend. About $30, ordered Thursday for Sunday. They were really nice, really prompt (I was picking up to-go). Delicious as always. I have a vague memory of this dish coming with a sauce, but there wasn't one, maybe because it was for take-out.

                            1. re: kmah

                              we really enjoyed Little Hong Kong some years ago and haven't revisited it since the chef and his wife retired ; she knew us as regulars, would modify things for us, and said her husband was simply worn out and ready for peace and quiet. good to know that the woks passed into competent hands. the dish generally doesn't need a sauce because the crispy skin has so much flavour and the stuffing is moist, and if there was one it's likely very simple and light.

                          2. I'd love to see more detail given as to what other goodies were in the sticky rice filling for the various entries to this thread. Lop cheung? Dried shrimp? Shitakes? More?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: RWCFoodie


                              The ginger & rice wine are among the key ingredients which give the dish its trademark flavor.

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                Thanks kyleoh for the link that includes what should be in the filling.

                                What I was asking was what things were included in the stuffing at each place the dish was ordered on this thread: namely, dried shrimp, lop cheung, shitakes, etc. I've had it where the only thing visible was shitakes and none of the other goodies - disappointing!

                            2. I'm gonna send out a Chowdown announcement for this coming Thursday night on the Peninsula, but haven't figured out a destination yet. For the Chowdown or in general, any suggestions or speculations aside from the places already mentioned in the thread?

                              Edit: from another thread, Asian Pearl, The Kitchen, & South Sea Seafood in Millbrae have the dish.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                Zen's does too - I called and asked $45, one day advance notice. Haven't tried it.

                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                  Will you be sending the Chowdown announcement via the Yahoo Groups system, part of this thread or another thread?

                                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                                    I'm going to send it to the Yahoo groups (all but Marin) tonight. I need to call candidate places first to see how much lead time they'll need... hopefully 24 hours!

                                2. Zen Peninsula's Whole Chicken with Sticky Rice by Advance Order - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/873182
                                  See post's photo by Jefferson. http://www.jeffersonscher.com/photos/...

                                  Don't ask me why I have it embedded in my brain that this should be ethereal. I have unresonably high expectations for the crispiest skin and the sweetest rice laden richly with lop cheung, shiitake mushrooms, and char siu. What I get is Comfort Food; satisfying crunch of fried salt and pepper chicken stuffed with gut-filling seasoned rice. Best eaten immediately hot and fragrant when served.

                                  I'm scratching ZP off my search list, it's too dear at $58 and didn't push my Comfort Zone button from o.k. to lip smackin'. but... oh my, Jefferson's photo does look mighty fine!
                                  Ming's Diner still tops my list, until it can be knocked down by any other tempting taste off.
                                  The 'taste off' challenge is still 'on'. Many thanks to hyperbowler for pushing/dragging us forward. : )

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                    I have to agree with Cynsa...Zen Peninsula's whole chicken w/ sticky rice was one of my least favorite dishes that we tried at this dinner. The crispy skin was already cooling down and a bit greasy by the time I tried it, and the rice filling was sort of like a seasoned fried rice. Definitely too dear at $58 in my opinion.

                                    Dave MP

                                    1. re: Cynsa

                                      Zen's version kind of reminded me of the Bacon Explosion--- a lot of materials and effort to make something elaborate that's not as good as any of it's parts. Why spend all that work to debone a chicken if you're not going to taste the natural flavor or crunch of the skin? The batter wasn't anything special, and even the wing, probably the only part of the chicken with flesh, didn't pass muster.

                                      It's an interesting concept. The interplay between different types of fat and poultry skin can be wonderful (e.g., bacon covered turkeys). I'm definitely in for trying this at a place that does it right--- stuffed or not, a good crispy poultry skin is a treat, and I'd love to see featured in many future dishes of the month.

                                      1. re: hyperbowler

                                        I have to say that I would avoid this dish - the pieces I had were a thin fried shell (didn't seem like there was any skin just crust - and one of the pieces should have been a "leg") with sticky rice inside without exceptional flavor or contrasts. I have had better sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf! I was expecting a boned chicken stuffed with sticky rice - if there was any chicken it escaped my taste buds (maybe mixed in in small pieces with the rice?)
                                        Interesting when I had been there last week and asked the price I was told it was $45, the person who organized the chowdown was told $65! and apparently we were charged 58? Probably the most disappointing and overpriced dish I've had here (or maybe any Chinese restaurant) Certainly NOT RECOMMENDED

                                      2. re: Cynsa

                                        I too was unimpressed with Zen Pen’s stuffed chicken with sticky rice. The rice was dark and somewhat oily, very different from the much better version I had at Kwang Tung in Richmond. Some of our group were disappointed at the lack of chicken meat in the rice filling but I think that’s standard for this dish. The Kwang Tung version has gotten raves from fans of stuffed chicken so East Bay hounds looking for a place to try the Dish of the Month have a great option. I wouldn’t order Zen Pen’s version again.

                                        1. re: charliemyboy

                                          If the diners were expecting chicken meat, then I can understand why they were disappointed though it sounds like there were other problems with the bird. Without the meat in the way, the richness of the fat from the skin infuses in the rice stuffing. I don't know that I've ever had this dish with the meat intact other than some in the drumstick perhaps.

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            The Ming's Diner chicken has a thin layer of meat attached to the skin on some of its pieces. It's best eaten hot when served.

                                          2. re: charliemyboy

                                            If the meat is left in tact inside the chicke, then deep frying until the skin is crispy would leave the chicken meat uncooked. If fry long enough to cook the meat the surface would be black. So you can not have both.

                                            So you can either get it the way it was served at Zen Pen or with the meat still inside (either steamed, braised or baked) which I do not know of anywhere serving that way locally. The one with the meat has another flavor and texture.

                                          3. re: Cynsa

                                            Ming's Diner's $28 Big Chicken tops my list now that we have compared both at yesterday's evening chowdown.
                                            Cooking Papa is the next throwdown.

                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                              How did it compare with Kwang Tung (spelling ?) I still need to post my pictures from that lunch...

                                          4. And from the other side of the continent, here's Toronto's version!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              Unfortunately there are not very many places in SF Bay Area that does a version the right way. You are lucky to be in Toronto and have access to something like this!

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                That's the color of the bird that Vincent hoped for on the bird at Zen Peninsula!

                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                  Now *that* is what a glutinous rice-stuffed chicken (drumstick in your case, Charles?) should look like. But to get that glossy, mahogany-toned crispy skin, one needs to make sure the chicken is suspended over a hot wok, whilst hot oil is ladled over it repeatedly - much to labor-intensive for most Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area.

                                                2. A group of us gathered at Ming's Diner to check out the small and large Chicken Stuffed with Sticky Rice.

                                                  I called in the dish a day ahead of time. It was $28 for the large, $8.25 for the small. I got both for comparison, a potential bargain considering the large one at Zen Peninsula was $56.

                                                  Both the small and the large had a thin golden batter to protect the skin. The small one had a crispy crust, and I managed to get a big chunk of chinese sausage. Otherwise, the filling was underseasoned and I didn't see much in it other than rice.

                                                  The large one was very good, and I managed to eat pieces from both the exterior and interior. The central pieces were topped with a crunchy skin, and had a thick cross section of rice and breast meat. The breast meat was a little dry, and it's bottom was battered rather than covered in skin. Of the two exterior pieces I ate, my favorite was covered with a piece of skin that barely had any batter, and tasted of pure gribenes, the closest thing Jews have to bacon. The stuffing held together nicely, and was enjoyable. The cooking technique made it taste a little bit better than a good quality zongzi (sticky rice and stuff wrapped and stuffed in a banana leaf).

                                                  For $28, I'd get this dish again.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                    sounds great. wish i could have made it last night! thanks for reporting, may have to drag the BF over there soon....

                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                      The version at Ming's Diner was obviously better than the one with a thicker batter at Zen Peninsula. It still had a thin batter and so wasn't authentic. Honestly, the chicken meat in both dishes was very bland and boring. Melanie reminded me that the smaller one (cornish hen) must be frozen. But even with the much bigger chicken, when I took the drumstick, the meat was...you know it just tasted like low-quality frozen chicken. My neighbor next to me reminded me that the dish had a head on the plate and so it couldn't be frozen chicken. Ming's was also very inconsistent in how they made this dish: Some pieces had the skin with a bit of meat and then the sticky rice underneath, some had the skin with the rice and then a *huge* chunk of chicken underneath, and then--this was very odd--some more *huge* chunks of chicken white meat all by themselves. Cantonese dishes are supposed to consist of small chunks so that they can be cooked quickly in the wok and picked up by chopsticks, but these huge chunks were just so unappetizing. There was also no sauce unlike the version at Zen Peninsula (not a complaint).

                                                      A proper sticky rice should have chewy rice grains (since it's not jasmine rice), but the rice grains should not stick to one another as in zongzi or the sticky rice dim sum wrapped in a leaf.
                                                      I honestly think if we go to a restaurant like Koi Palace or The Kitchen, and order two separate dishes of sticky rice and fried chicken (of course with no battered skin), they should be much better than the single sticky rice chicken dish offered by almost all the restaurants here.

                                                      1. re: hyperbowler

                                                        You had me at gribenes -off subject but if you'd like to try the Filipino version of gribenes, check out Lechgo in Daly City. Display case next to cash register, plastic bags of crunchy fried chicken skin! But of course, the main reason to go there is the Lechon...

                                                        1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                          another to add to my once-a-year list ;^) Let's start a New Thread

                                                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                            Another place for the fried chicken skin is in Fremont, at the Cherry Garden Chinese/Filipino restaurant. For the sake of my health this was only purchased once, but was damn good.

                                                        2. I've been following this thread with envy. My wife's aunt recently celebrated her birthday banquet at China Moon in Moraga specifically because they have boneless whole chicken stuffed with sticky rice. I thought the chicken was amazing, and there was also wonderful tea-smoked duck. She had to order in advance, of course.

                                                          China Moon
                                                          380 PARK ST
                                                          MORAGA, CA 94556

                                                          1. Thanks to yesterday’s Cooking Papa Chowdown I’ve now had three different versions of the Dish of the Month since July. Cooking Papa’s version was clearly superior to Zen Peninsula’s. At CP the skin was crispy and tasty without all the batter of the Zen Pen version. The rice mixture had lots of crunchy goodies and wasn’t as oily. However I think I prefer the Kwang Tung version. It has been a while, but IIRC at Kwang Tung the rice mixture was lighter in color and less dense and oily, but still had good flavor and crunchy stuff.

                                                            I’ve enjoyed this dish but I’m not totally wowed by it. At each meal there were other dishes I enjoyed more. The better versions of it are quite good but at the the high prices most places charge I think it’s not the best value. Still, I’d try it again.

                                                            1. Has anyone tried the version at Hakka Restaurant in the outer Richmond?
                                                              S15. Stuffed Chicken with Sticky Rice $28.00
                                                              Advanced order required.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                                Or the Kirin (25th/Geary) Stuffed Chicken with sweet rice -- Chef's Special Dishes - $33 ..

                                                                1. re: Sarah

                                                                  This is the only version I've had so it's my standard. It's always a favorite. The skin is crispy and the sticky rice rich and flavorful. I don't remember there being much meat aside from the leg and the drummette. I think the chicken is incorporated into the stuffing. I had this in May and it went quickly. We were hosting family from HK and they had never heard or seen this dish before. I'm replying so late because all of a sudden I had a hankering and did a search to see if any fellow Chowhounders had attempted to make this.

                                                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                                                    Thanks for the link! Sounds delicious....

                                                                2. rumored that Hong's Kitchen has a 'pre-order' version of Whole Chicken with Sticky Rice

                                                                  Hong's Kitchen
                                                                  3917 Noriega

                                                                  1. Ordered two whole fried chicken stuffed with sticky rice tonight to go from Ming's Diner tonight. Darn good.They prefer two days notice for the dish. It's $32 each which includes the taxes.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: saydoybow

                                                                      It looks like some kind of salt and pepper treatment, or at least there's some flour dust on the skin before going into the fryer?