Michelin Guide to the Different Types of Chicken Rice Around the Asia-Pacific

Just sharing - my latest article for the Michelin Guide Asia:


Tell you what. Not many foods can better than the nuanced complexity of a simple poached chicken and rice done right!!!

Not quite chicken, we’ve had some Turkey and Rice in Taiwan that was incredible. Lately, I’ve been hooked on the Japanese Parent and Child, Chicen and Egg on rice.

In the absence of Hainanese Chicken here, may just have to grab some parent/child for dinner now.


Same here!

There was a time when I spent an inordinate amount of time in Tokyo due to work (4-5 trips a year, over a few years) - oyako-don was one of my fave meals, besides katsudon and katsu curry.


Anything you write about food is a feast. And now I want to try all the chicken rice. Thrilled that you share your work with us here.


Thanks, Denise. I love them all!


Nice one!

I’ve got Hainanese chicken rice OR Cantonese white-cut chicken on my plan for this week, and for the life of me, I will never perceive them as different :joy:


It’s hard to differentiate between the Cantonese and the Singapore Hainanese versions, but more pronounced if we look at the original Wen Chang version. Some differences:

  • the Cantonese would poach their whole chickens in sub-212 deg F until just cooked, then quickly dunk the cooked chicken in cold iced water to achieve a smooth, springy skin texture, and also obtain a gelatinous, jelly-like layer between the chicken skin and the flesh.
    For the Hainanese preparation style, the chickens were cooked to boiling point (though some Hainanese families can also choose to steam the chicken), then removed from the cooking liquids, drained, then allowed to sit and cool on a pan, before being chopped up for serving later on.

  • Cantonese “pak cham kai” (Chinese: 白斩雞) is drizzled with a light, savory dressing sauce before serving, whereas Wen Chang chicken is never bathed or drizzled with a dressing sauce before it’s being served.

  • the Hainanese serve their chicken with flavored rice, whereas the Cantonese prefer steamed, plain white rice.

Singapore’s Hainanese chicken rice preparation actually straddles the two, as the Hainanese, in order to satisfy their large non-Hainanese clientele, has incorporated some Cantonese techniques like basting their chickens before serving, and also included chili sauce as a dip.

The home island had gotten its name, “Hainan”, during Kublai Khan’s Mongol dynasty (1206–1368) whence it was self-ruling. But it came under Cantonese rule later on.

Hainan only achieved autonomous provincial status in 1988. Prior to that, during the Ming dynasty, it was under the jurisdiction of Guangdong province (1369 to 1987). There was an influx of Cantonese settlers to the island in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, driving the native Hainanese southwards.

Hainanese and Cantonese languages are not mutually intelligible.


Fantastic write up. You definitely know your food! Please accept my :bowing_man:


Thanks for the reminder. :wink:

Now gotta hit up a C-town somewhere and get some Hainan Chicken!


Your oyako-don looked inestimably better than the one I just had a couple of days ago in my neck of the woods.


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Tried the Thai version of Hainan Chicken Rice, Khao Man Kai last night.

Just satisfactory. The chicken lacked that succulence that Singapore shops have perfected. DW liked the Chicken Rice and the spicy sauce.

We will be in Singapore and Thailand this coming May. Will be eating lots of GOOD Hainan Chicken!


Yes, get khao man gai when you’re in Bangkok - my personal favorite is from Montien Hotel - expensive but very, very good. Bangkokians regard the place the way Singaporeans look at Chatterbox at the Hilton Orchard in Singapore: a deluxe version of a street food, but absolutely legendary and a must-try if you’re indulging yourself.


Nice! Already looking forward to your experiences there.

I am considering Singapore as well, for a brief work trip later this year. Or else Hong Kong for work - one of the two. For personal trips (if I can make it) Japan is now number one on my wishlist.

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Right after the reopening (and after Covid) we were at Ruenton and had a wonderful breakfast with Amnuay, after feasting on his signature chicken and rice the night before.

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How wonderful!