Fell in love with this dish on a trip to Singapore many eons ago. My favourite place (Nonya Baba on Davie) closed over a decade ago. I'm on a quest to find the best in Vancouver. Ideally, the restaurant is a hole-in-the-wall...not something like the Banana Leaf (which is great, but quite the wrong context for a Chicken Rice Meal...what the heck, I'll add it to the list)
I'm looking for recommendations. I only have a short list so far (I don't even know if a couple these places are still around):
Cafe D'Lite - chicken is nice, skin is nicely gelatinous but the meat lacks slikiness, rice is slighty disintegrated, the dipping sauce is a bit bland, the soup is OK, a bit overpriced
Hawker's Delight - chicken is nice, skin often lacks that good gelatinous texture, the meat is a bit bland, dipping sauce is decent sometimes, the soup is nice and light. The rice is often too disintegrated. Inconsistent.
Orchid Dellight - bland chicken, seems to be lacking ginger and sesame flavours, tastes more like the quasi-chicken rice you get at a regular (non Singapore/Malaysian) Chinese noodle house.
Angel's Cafe - seems to be the best one of the bunch so far, good gingeriness and sesame flavours, the dipping sauce is nice and fresh tasting.
Banana Leaf - the Chicken Rice here is good too...nice and gelatinous, silky meat, good dipping sauce with a bit more kick than the rest), the soup is nice, clean, and fresh tasting with no off flavours. But this is a premium restaurant...not a hole in the wall "hawker".
Prata-Man (Richmond) - Good gelatinous chicken, good silky meat, good flavour. Gingery. Nice rice....nice soup. I've only been once...so I can't comment on consistency.
On Lok - I didn't expect authentic tasting Hainan rice here...tastes like chinese noodle house "steamed" chicken.
Mui Garden - More of the quasi, not quite authentic tasting Hainan rice.
PS. I hear the "best" way to prepare this dish is to either slow-poach it or bring it to boil, then turn off the heat for 20 mins, then bring it to boil again, and turn off the heat again...etc. Then when the chicken is done....dunk it in ice cold water to stop the cooking.
I think many of these places rush the chicken - for example the chinese noodle house ersatz Chicken Rice is often tough and the skin is not gelatinous...it tastes off and the mouth feel is all wrong. The quality of the chicken is of the utmost importance - not necessarily free-range, but it should be young and tasty...even if factory raised...which often results a distinctly and unpleasantly tart tasting meat.
I've tried to cook this myself...but the carving takes too much skill.