Singapore - A Taste of "Lor Mai Kai" (糯米鸡)
"Lor Mai Kai" (糯米鸡) is classic comfort food for me: steamed glutinous rice, tinged brown from the use of soysauce & oyster sauce to flavour it, together with sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, ginger juice, garlic and a minute amount of 5-spice. The rest of the ingredients are chicken, shitake mushrooms, char-siu pork (in some places), Chinese waxed sausage and hard-boiled egg - all of these, when steamed together with the glutinous rice, contributed towards the overall flavour of the dish. In Singapore & Malaysia, "Lor Mai Kai" is usually steamed in little metal bowls - you find them in corner "kopitiams" (traditional Chinese coffeeshops), offered by the steamed "bao" vendors as part of their repertoire of steamed morsels. The Singapore/Malaysia "Lor Mai Kai" share a common origin with the lotus leaf-wrapped "Lor Mai" in HK dim sum restaurants, and their cousins in China and Taiwan. But there are hardly any similarity in their tastes: the HK/Chinese "Lor Mai" are infused with the scent from the lotus leaves, and salted duck's eggyolk are sometimes added, together with pork belly slices. Of course, one can get the HK/Chinese version in Singapore and Malaysia these days, although one usually finds these in Cantonese dim sum restaurants. In the humble kopitiam, the local "Lor Mai Kai" predominates.
I still remember a time, during my childhood, when we pretty much took for granted that *any* "Lor Mai Kai" we bought would taste delicious. Not so these days, with the advent of mass production, and where the humble "Lor Mai Kai" are now churned out on conveyor belts in factories, from Pandan Loop to Jurong industrial park. The subtle flavours are gone, to be replaced by metallic, brassy, bland mounds of glutinous rice which bore little resemblance to the tasty "Lor Mai Kai" of yore.
My fave spot for "Lor Mai Kai" in Singapore is from the famous Tiong Bahru Bao (various outlets throughout the island), although I usually get my fix from the one at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
#02-18/19, Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre
30 Seng Poh Road