[Singapore] Lunch at Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice, Maxwell Food Centre

Lunch at Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre. This under-rated Hainanese chicken rice spot is run by 64-year-old Wong Liang Tai @ Ah Tai, the former head chef at the more famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, hardly 10 paces away in the same food court.

Ah Tai started his own chicken rice stall in April 2012 to rival that of his former employers of 20 years, when he was sacked after a huge row.

Honestly, if you asked me, I can’t really tell the difference between the two - both had perfectly Hainanese-style poached chicken. The chicken rice was fluffy, fragrant, and tasty from the delicately-flavoured chicken stock used to cook the rice, with hints of ginger, scallions and garlic. We also ordered a couple of hard-boiled eggs that had been slightly braised in soy sauce.

Bok choy, par-boiled then dressed in oyster sauce, and topped with crisp-fried shallots. This was well-cooked, tender, and much tastier than versions I’d had at other similar set-ups elsewhere in town.

Beansprouts, given a quick par-boiling, to kill the raw taste of beansprouts, yet retaining the crunch, then dressed in chicken drippings and blend of other condiments (soy sauce, sesame oil, etc.), then topped with a scattering of crisp-fried shallots and chopped green scallions.

I enjoyed the meal here as much as the one at Tian Tian, but without having to contend with a long queue.

Ah Tai Hainanaese Chicken Rice
#01-07 Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184
Tel: +658137 6559
Operating times: 11am to 7.30pm, Mon, Wed to Sun. Closed on Tuesdays.


All looks delicious as usual. Do you know if there are customers who are now fiercely loyal to the original or this one, and refuse to go to the other?

This reminds me of two pubs in Kent that I was reading about. It was originally one pub owned by two brothers. They had a falling out and now it’s been split into two pubs. Some people go to both but some refuse to set foot in one or the other.


No brotherly love on worldwide scale:


A little while back, this lady went around Singapore trying out many different chicken rice stalls, including Ah Tai and Tian Tian. What made her efforts unique was she acquired an additional serving at each location for E.coli testing.

Her results are what makes me only eat at Ah Tai now, and to never step too close to Tian Tian ever again.


Sometimes it is better not to know what goes on in the kitchen…
But when it comes to E Coli? I want to know.

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Oh my.

I really liked the chicken and rice at Sui Heng (BKK) you recommended a couple years back but this looks even better. One of the things I liked about Sui Heng was not just that the food was delicious, it was when I started to dig in to the food I mentioned to the woman who served me that it was really good and the older gent sitting to one side (owner?) seemed pleased I was enjoying it. Very cool ambiance at Sui Heng.
I have not been to Singapore for more than a 12 hour layover for years, though.


You’ll need to come back to Singapore again soon. If you’d not been here for more than 5 years, you’ll find the whole country has changed quite a bit, too, since the last time