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Hainan chicken-rice: new fave


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Hainan chicken-rice: new fave

Thi N. | Jan 30, 2009 11:28 AM

I am obsessed with hainan-style chicken rice.

Poached chicken, over rice cooked in chicken broth (sometimes with a bit of coconut milk, depending on the joint), with a ginger-garlic-somethin'-special sauce over the top. And a sidecar of chicken broth, to sup.

My introduction and mainstay was Samnaluang's version.

I tasted many others. They ranged from the quite good to the slightly-oddball. people recommended heavily the chicken-rice at this San Gabriel place... uh, kitty-corner from the OK Cafe, that also served spaghetti and pizza. Others seemed to like it, but I thought it had odd, chemically, off-flavors. And the semi-pathetic - Yum Cha's version, which doesn't even use chicken stock to cook the rice in. Where's the love? (As my students tell me, when I give 'em a C.)

But the winner, the real winner, the mega-favorite: is now Rod Ded's version.

First of all: it is hard to get. They only make it Saturday and Sunday, and they run out. Frequently by the early afternoon. Sometimes even before noon. Much to my weeping.

But: the chicken is good chicken. The rice is deep and luscious and sensuously moist. The sauce is the liveliest, the zippiest. The combination is... well, you feel it from your mouth down to your iliac spine.

I took my out-of-town New Yorker best buddy there after a morning of introducing him to rock climbing, and he... well, it well, it went beyond *snarfing*. It was almost to, but not quite, literal *inhaling*. There were no words, only the gradual lowering of his face until it was about 2 inches away from the plate.

So Rod Ded: my favorite duck soup, my favorite thai stewed pork leg, and my favorite hainan chicken rice. It's three blocks from my house. This makes my New Yorker buddy weep tears - hot, salty, gingery, chicken-broth tears.

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