Update (July 2011): This stall has ceased operations.
After working there for more than 30 years, Chef Han left this year to open his own chicken rice stall at Centrepoint’s new basement foodcourt, which is a mere 5-minute walk from Mandarin Hotel.
Naturally, Chef Han’s connection to Chatterbox proved to be an irresistible draw. During their opening promotion in March, response was overwhelming. I know cos I went there to recce. The queue was so long it s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d- to the carpark!
Since then, the curious crowds have dispersed. I’ve eaten at Chef Han’s twice, both times during lunch hour on weekdays. There’s a steady stream of customers, but no queue.
The standard was consistent both times I ate there.
The rice: The grains were plump and had good texture. Well-rounded flavors with pleasant taste of chicken stock.
The chicken: Quite disappointing. Although the breast portion was tender, the meat lacked flavor and was too “wet” (maybe it was soaked in ice for too long after cooking?). But the skin had a nice bounciness. Also, they flattened the meat with flat side of the cleaver, a practice I personally dislike.
Chilli sauce: Hot and zingy! Very shiok, but I’d prefer a touch more tangy lime. The ginger sauce was also not bad.
Soup: Surprisingly, this was my favorite part. The soup was really tasty, not like the usual plain, tasteless type you get at other chicken rice stalls. This one had bits of radish, cabbage, and wolfberry. Nice!
Presentation: More posh than the usual hawker or foodcourt-style chicken rice. The meat was placed over a bed of shredded lettuce, and adorned with a cherry tomato on the side. This is perhaps the strongest resemblance to Chatterbox’s version.
At a quarter the price of Chatterbox’s posh chicken rice, I wouldn’t expect the same quality or quantity. However, if I had eaten this at a blind taste test, I wouldn’t have guessed this was connected to Chatterbox.
On the whole, it was ok, but they seriously need to improve on the chicken.
Chef Han Chicken Rice
176 Orchard Road
Stall 13, Foodcourt @ The Basement
Daily: 10am to 10pm