[Penang, Malaysia] Best Hainanese Chicken Rice at Wen Chang (文昌海南鸡饭), Cintra Street

I think I finally found a Hainanese chicken rice place in Penang which can closely match the standards we find in Singapore, which has the best Hainanese chicken rice anywhere.

The Hainanese are latecomers to Penang - by the time large numbers of Hainanese arrived in Penang in the 1870s, other dialect groups like the Hokkiens, Hakkas, Teochews and Cantonese were already entrenched. Also, by then, Penangites’ palates were already so attuned to Cantonese-style “pak cham kai” (poached chicken) served with steamed white rice - so much so that diners could not get used to the newly-introduced, richer, oilier Hainanese-style chicken rice at the time. Consequently, the Hainanese in Penang adjusted their cooking to suit the Penang palate: Hainanese chicken rice in Penang became blander and milder-tasting, lacking the rich fragrance and flavors which characterize Singapore’s Hainanese chicken rice.

Over the past decades, I found that even most highly recommended Hainanese chicken rice places in Penang, e.g. Tho Yuen, Goh Thiew Chik, etc. were lacking in taste and aroma, compared to the renditions one finds everywhere in Singapore.

But local friends had recently pointed me to Wen Chang Hainan Chicken Rice on Cintra Street - a restaurant is run by the Hainanese Lim family, with a youngish 38-year-old chef, Lim Fang Jeong, who cooked using family recipes handed down through generations from his Hainanese forefathers. The history of this Hainanese chicken rice spot actually went back further: as a stall inside Eng Loh Kopitiam on Church Street back in 1967. At the moment, I’d say this is the place for Hainanese chicken rice in George Town.

  1. Hainanese chicken rice here, besides the requisite chicken and chicken livers, is accompanied with tofu (a nod to Penang’s large Teochew community) and Hokkien “lor bak” (which is what “ngoh hiang” is known to Penangites).

  2. The most fragrant Hainanese chicken rice I’d ever come across in town. It’s better than all other versions I’d tried so far on the island.

  3. “Lor bak” or “ngoh hiang” - the ones here are also some of the best-tasting rendition I’d had. Penang’s "ngoh hiang’ taste 100% similar in terms of flavour & texture to the ones in Taiwan.

Wen Chang Hainan Chicken Rice 文昌海南鸡饭
63, Lebuh Cintra, 10100 Georgetown, Penang
Tel: 04 - 264 3810 (Mr. Lim Jit Tan)
Opens daily 10.30am - 7.30pm.


Congrats! Hopefully the Penangites like that, and the chef continues to make the chicken this way.

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