Chicken Fat Rules—Hawker’s Delight Hainanese Chicken Rice and Veggie Spring Roll

By Tana Kosiyabong

Hainanese Chicken Rice and Vegetable Spring Roll

Aside from my trip to Japan and Thailand, I rarely venture out of downtown Vancouver for my Cheap Appetite missions. However I think it’s time to find out what the Greater Vancouver has to offer. Recently, LotusRapper, one of my regular readers, suggested me a few restaurants. Hawker’s Delight was among them. The name sounds so interesting I must check it out.

Conveniently, I hopped on the No. 3 bus in front of my condo and headed east. Twenty minutes later I was in front of Hawker’s Delight at Main St and E King Edward Ave. The restaurant bright red exterior is hard to miss. The interior painted bright green and yellow throughout. Hawkers Delight is quite small and crowded with tables and chairs. At lunch time, this restaurant is the claustrophobes worst nightmares. But it didn’t scare me off. I marched in, put on my brave face and ordered a Hainanese chicken rice ($5) and a vegetable spring roll ($0.75).

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Hawker's Delight

Veggie Spring Roll at Hawker’s Delight

Hawker’s Delight offers over 17 Singaporean and Malaysian dishes. Many are quite similar to Thai food I’m familiar with. Soon after, the chicken rice was served in a banana leaf design plate. The restaurant gave a generous portion of poached chicken leg quarter and rice. The chicken skin was almost jelly-like. The dark chicken meat was firm yet tender. The trick is to poach them just under the boiling point. The rice was well-cooked but I wish I could taste a bit more of the yummy chicken fat. The dipping sauce was sour and sweet with a little kung-fu kick. It was made of pounded chilies, pounded ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and perhaps a pinch of salt to round them all up.

I grew up with a very similar dish called Khao Man Gai (ข้าวมันไก่) in Thailand. The dish was also made of poached chicken and rice cooked in fatty chicken stock. Some even throw in a few garlic cloves and ginger slices to the rice for another layer of aroma. The dipping sauce, however, are quite different from the Hawker’s Delight version. Khao Man Gai sauce was made of chopped Thai chilies, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, fermented soy bean, dark soy sauce and vinegar. When eating with the dipping sauce, therefore, the Khao Man Gai is saltier and spicier than the Hainanese chicken rice.

Another Thai offshoot of the Hainanese chicken is Khao Man Gai Todd which serves with deep-fried chicken instead. The dipping sauce is very similar to the sweet Thai chilies sauce found in Asian grocery stores. Boy, I almost drooled just thinking of it.

Veggie Spring Roll Fillings at Hawker’s Delight

The vegetable spring roll came in a small plate topped with sweet dark soy sauce. The fillings were the usual cabbage and carrots, and the unusual bamboo shoot. The spring roll was crispy yet not too greasy. The sweet dark soy sauce complimented the spring roll so well I wish I had tried this flavor combo a long time ago. Since the dark soy sauce is one of the ingredients in Khao Man Gai dipping sauce, I ingeniously scraped the excess amount of the sauce on the spring roll plate to mix with the Hainanese sauce. Voila! A poor man’s version of Thai Khao Man Gai sauce was made. However, I would urge you to try the original dipping sauce first before you mix in the dark soy sauce

Unfortunately, Hawker’s Delight didn’t serve chicken broth soup along with the Hainanese chicken rice. In Thailand, Khao Man Gai always comes with the soup. I assumed Singaporean and Malaysian restaurants would also serve it. But I could be wrong.

Hawker’s Delight Menu Board

Hawker’s Delight prices range from $0.75 to $7.75 (most dishes are under $5.25).It’s so affordable I’ll be back to try every one of them. It may take a few years, but eventually I will conquer.

Hawker’s Delight Hainanese Chicken Rice: ©©© ¾

Hawker’s Delight Vegetable Spring Roll: ©©© ¾

BUDGET BREAKDOWN:
Remaining Budget: $277.14

Budget Spent: -$5.75

Budget Available: $271.39

For LotusRapper Review on Fan Favorites section, click here.

For review on other Hawker’s Delight dishes, see Ben’s review from Chowtimes.com.

©2010 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.

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20 thoughts on “Chicken Fat Rules—Hawker’s Delight Hainanese Chicken Rice and Veggie Spring Roll

  1. You are right, Tana. In Malaysia, Hainanese Chicken Rice usually comes with a side bowl of chicken broth. Usually they are just plain broth with a sprinkle of green onions and deep fried shallots. As for condiments there are usually two types (besides the usual soya sauce) … garlic chili and dark soya sauce. The post below is our lunch at one of the best Hainanese Chicken Rice restaurant in Malaysia. It used to be the best but not anymore after they franchised it:
    http://chowtimes.com/2006/12/15/kl-series-nam-heong-hainanese-chicken-rice/
    Ben

    1. It’s great to hear from the source like you Ben:) I wish Hawkers Delight serves the chicken broth. It would make all the differences. The garlic chili sauce is so interesting. They don’t have it either. Perhaps the dish is Singaporean Style?

  2. For me, a perfect plate of Hainanese chicken rice has to go with a perfect dipping sauce made of lots of chilies and ginger! It seems the one your had is what I want.
    BTW, I would love to try the Khao Man Gai sauce too. Simply look at the ingredients, I believe I would fall for it no matter what.

  3. I’m not sure about this chicken rice! The texture looks so different from the one over here. Probably, because of the the chicken. Over here, we get to eat those home breed ‘kampung’ chicken. The texture is so much better and the skin also looks so shiny. Are you still familiar with those fighting chicken, back home? hahaha… No jokes, they chase human LOL!

    1. Kristy, I’m glad to hear from you! You would know a lot more about Hainanese Chicken rice more than I do. The fighting chicken must have tasty meat. I imagine it would be tougher than farm raised chicken:) I think the chicken and even rice at the Hawker’s Delight weren’t greasy enough. Need more chicken fats. hehe:) Thanks for the tips on what’s good Hainanese Chicken should look like!

  4. Hey Ben is here !

    Glad you enjoyed your HC Rice. So the chicken broth soup you speak of, is that similar to Vietnamese soups on the side of certain dishes (soup topped with green onions, cilantro, fried onions) ?

    Tana, 17 dishes shouldn’t take you years to finish 🙂 I could do it in 4 months (one a week).

    Ben, since your last post of KL’s Nam Heong Hainanese Chicken, have you found any really good ones here in town ? I’m curious to know.

  5. Hi LotusRapper:
    There are no really great ones here in Vancouver the likes that I had in KL. I can think of Cafe D’Lite but I just hated the way they served it. The pieces of chicken are cut so small that it is not like HCR anymore. They don’t have the distinctive gelatinous layer under the skin. That is the sign of handiwork of a truly HCR sifu.
    Ben

  6. Next time, try the #7 curry lamb on rice (if you like lamb). A well-done curry, IMHO, rather multi-dimensional in its taste and needs to be savoured slowly.

  7. i love love love this place. now that the secret is out after your review, its gonna be tough getting in for lunch 🙂 apart from the chicken rice, another fav dish of mine here is mee rebus,have you tried it? the gravy is made with some kind of potato so its thick, its vegetarian and served with green chillies. its delish. after reading this, i am going to stop by after the long weekend with my best bud some chicken rice, mee goreng and possibly some mee rebus and then roll out of the restaurant!

    1. lol. imkoonta, you’re too kind. Perhaps you should give credits to Ben from chowtimes.com instead. He wrote about this place long before I did. oh and LotusRapper who suggested me to go there. I haven’t tried Mee Rebus yet. But I definitely will. I’m glad they have some veggie dishes for vegetarian cheap appetiter too :0) Oh yeah I already tried mee goreng. it was yummy and only $4.75!

  8. Blame me for tipping off Tana 😉

    I *need* to go to HD this long weekend. Reading about it is getting too difficult. I haven’t been since the Olympics in February.

    The Mee Rebus is good ! I like 90% of their dishes, but I admit their Gado Gado and Nasi Goreng are less stellar.

    1. I’m glad you told me LotusRapper 🙂 However, I don’t think I’ll go back there during the next a couple of weeks. just to write stories for the blog and trying to file my tax would eat up all my time this weekend and perhaps next one too. I hate doing my tax 😦

    1. I heard about Dona Cata quite a bit when I wrote about La Taqueria and Don Guacamoles. But I haven’t had a chance to try it. From what I’ve heard, Dona Cata’s tacos are cheaper than both La Taqueria and Don Guacamoles. Thanks for the tip LotusRapper 🙂

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