Ah Tai Chicken Rice, Maxwell Food Centre
When I first moved to Singapore over ten years ago, my favorite chicken rice stall at that time was by far Tian Tian Chicken Rice. But over time, I found that I didn't like it as much as before, particularly in recent years. I wasn't sure if it was because my tastes had changed, or if Tian Tian itself had changed. So when I read that the former chef at Tian Tian had opened up his own shop, Ah Tai, just a few doors down at Maxwell Food Centre stall number 7, I wondered if maybe the old Tian Tian that I used to love was back. I came down here for lunch today to find out.
Interestingly, Ah Tai already had a line forming when I got there at 11:30 AM...all while Tian Tian was empty. The most notable thing about this guy was how big and fluffy his rice was. The chicken was very tender, but other than that, there wasn't really anything else that stood out about it. Indeed, I didn't really care for it that much in the end because it wasn't that fragrant (no sesame oil nor scallions). I was still a bit hungry though, so I figured that I might as well get a competing plate from Tian Tian while I was here to see what the difference was.
I immediately liked Tian Tian better, most notably because of a bit of sesame oil from that sauce, even if I still had to proactively ask them for the garnish. The soup was also much richer in chicken taste, whereas the soup from the other guy was just plain salty. Now, admittedly it still wasn't the same Tian Tian that I used to remember, although frankly I'm struggling to put my finger on which chicken rice shop I ultimately like the best these days. Based on what I wrote before, it sounds like it would be a tossup between Yet Con, Loy Kee, and Yeo Keng Nam. But I haven't been back to those guys in many years either, so who knows if they've changed too.