Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chatterbox, Meritus Mandarin Singapore

Chicken Rice

I used to like Chatterbox (333 Orchard Road, 6831-6291). Even though they charged literally up to ten times what hawkers charged, the food was good enough that I was willing to pay the S$20 (US$12) or so for good food and even 24 hour availability in air conditioned comfort. I hadn't been back in ages, but when a friend of mine from back home came into town tonight complaining about the humidity while wanting local food, I knew exactly where to take him.

And what a change confronted us when we arrived. Physically speaking, the decor had been overhauled into some red veneer-plastered monstronsity. That didn't really matter as long as the food was the same. It was not. Instead of the humble chicken rice that I was expecting, this thing came out in some fancy porcelainware with chicken sitting on a bed of lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes with chicken rice?? Something was amiss.

Well, the good thing was that the chicken was still tender and moist, and the rice was still tasty. They also gave portions much larger than I was expecting such that we didn't even need to order their boringly-grilled satay. But the chicken slices were of the frustratingly skinny kind, and they hardly provided much chili sauce nor ginger to go with this. In the end, it was still edible, but I was a bit bummed to find this rather boring, not standing out much more than any other chicken rice place out there. That being the case, I'd much rather hit up a hawker and pour the remaining money into my beer fund instead.

I heard that they changed chefs recently along with the whole renovation. Is that true? Either way, it's a shame. This place has fallen from its prime. I guess it is still a good standby for taking visitors to, but I'll probably think twice next time and consider the StraitsKitchen for visitors instead.


Anonymous said...

Think the original chef left (or was asked to leave?). He's apparently set up shop at Downtown East. Feedback is good and cheap!

Anonymous said...

Saw a newspaper cut-out at the chicken rice stall at Food Republic, Wisma Atria, which says that the owner's dad was the original chef at Chatterbox cooking the chicken rice.

The chicken rice there does come pretty close to what Chatterbox served when I last ate there a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

Never really liked chatterbox chicken.. to be honest. I used to work in The Mandarin in Orchard Road.. and i still didn't like to eat the chicken rice there.. even though we get 50% discount.. and need not pay for it.. till the end of the month. Pine Court is really good though.. although it can get really expensive. I love their sharkfin dumpling. You should try some .. sometime.. ;)

The Hungry Cow said...

Yea, my last time at Chatterbox was eons ago. May is right. The original chef behind Chatterbox's famed chicken rice was retrenched and has set up stall in Downtown East under the name Mr Chicken Rice. I have not tried it though.

Anonymous said...

i passed by balastier (near the tau sar piah stores) and the sign was there - (can't remember the name) chicken rice - by ex mandarin hotel chefs in chatterbox. corinne

donaldck said...

I so totally agree with "red veneer-plastered monstronsity"