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For My Valentine, Food To Fall In Love With: The Best Damn Chicken Rice In Manila (part of an ongoing V-day series)

posted by in Home Bakers, Makati, The Best... Lists

chicken rice set

I’m trying to remember when I last ate something so good I cursed every bite.

What is Hainanese chicken rice but simply boiled chicken, boiled rice, and sauces? Well, it’s not that simple, really.

Chicken rice is Singapore’s de facto national dish, one that was brought to the city-state by immigrants from Hainan, China. So common and loved is it that it’s attained a particular level of cult status (at least in Asia) where everyone fancies himself/herself an expert on who makes the best chicken rice and/or where to get it.

I am no exception. In Manila, the best – and I do mean the BEST – chicken rice is made by Stevie Villacin. The former Finance and Accounting executive spent all of 2007 in Singapore ostensibly to work but ended up doing everything but; one of these activities included attending a short course on traditional Singaporean chicken dishes. “I so loved chicken rice that I spent one week visiting [local hawker bible] Makansutra’s top-rated chicken rice joints.” He remembers, laughing in a delightfully self-conscious manner. “My chicken rice recipe is based on what I considered the best qualities of all those…”

Though his two-year course in ISCAHM confirmed that a newfound career in culinary was for him, it wasn’t until last Christmas that his calling became clear. His cousin asked him to make a chicken rice set for her that she wanted to give to a friend. Prior to this, Stevie had only been cooking the chicken rice for designated family get-togethers, et al. “I didn’t even know how to cost it out or anything but I just did it anyway,” he recalls. That lucky recipient was Ingrid Go, a bag blogger who liked the chicken rice so much that she blogged about it. Orders started coming in the very next day.

chicken rice chicken

Stevie uses chickens that weigh 1.4 kilos or more – any smaller and they dry up during cooking. Though I die to know how he cooks his chicken rice, I can only tell you how the traditional version (or at least one of them) is made. One whole chicken goes through a process of being boiled in chicken stock then plunged into ice water (a technique that smoothens the skin) and then back into the stock for a total cooking time of one hour. Next, raw rice grains that have been pre-fried in anything from custom-made chicken sauces and/or pandan leaves with ginger, are then cooked in the now-immensely flavorful stock. When the rice is cooked, the chicken is cut up and served along with the rice and a bevy of sauces.

chicken rice ~sauces

The chicken rice set that Stevie offers consists of 5 cups of rice – the traditional rice cooked in stock and topped with green onions or a version mixed with minced black olives (see photo). Of course there’s the chicken, so succulent it inspires drools all around plus four sauces: sweet soy (dark and thick), chili (very yellow and not at all spicy), ginger sauce (smashed ginger with sesame oil), and what Stevie calls his topping sauce. “I needed a ‘glaze’ of sorts to prevent the chicken from drying out since people are sometimes delayed in picking up their order,” Stevie explains. “All they need to do is pour the sauce over the chicken.” Hmm, what I do is mix all four of the sauces together, throwing in two siling labuyos for fire.

chicken rice (2)

Stevie’s chicken rice is, in a word, tremendous. Perfectly cooked just ‘til the chicken loses all pinkness, every bite yields a flood of juice that’s salty-sweet carrying the nuance of the sauces, a permutation that changes depending on which sauce(s) one chooses. Then there’s the rice: at times sticky but most often separate grains that are softly springy, it’s easy to polish off two or three cups of the stuff then wonder why there’s none left. Pair the chicken and the rice and sauces with the cilantro, tomato, and cucumber garnishes, and I can almost guarantee that you’ll be letting loose a litany of curses the way I did.

~~

Stevie Villacin’s Hainanese chicken rice
P950/set good for 4-5 people (but I say good for 3-4).
Pick-up only in Bel-Air Village, Makati.
For orders, call (0906) 508.4155 / (02) 896.8940

26 Responses to “For My Valentine, Food To Fall In Love With: The Best Damn Chicken Rice In Manila (part of an ongoing V-day series)”

  • I really need to try this!Mmmmmm!Thanks for the post.

    [Reply]

  • hello Ms. Lori!

    That is indeed yummy looking…more than the chicken…I LOVE the RICE part of the chicken rice …hahaha is that strange? I dream of having the chicken rice with yummy chinese buttered fried chicken —ahhh (yummm) May I ask if you have tried TAO YUAN hainaise chicken rice? they are the BEST I have tried in manila …so I am really intrigued by Stevie’s =) Will try soon!

    Hi Jen-
    I’ve tried Tao Yuan’s chicken rice. Stevie’s is better.
    –lori

    [Reply]

    Jen Tan Reply:

    Wow..then this must be great! =) Will try it soon…thanks for the heads up I trust your taste ;P

    [Reply]

  • Lori, I just ate at Tao Yuan in Malate last week. Their Hainanese chicken rice was pretty delicious! But I will try this take out from Bel Air you just wrote about…..Looks divine!!!

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  • The baby within is craving this… I have got to try it… tried the Hainanese Chicken rice at Makansutra (Ocean Park) which is okay.. have yet to try the Tau Yuen version … but since you and MarketMan have blogged about this, I (or the hubby) no longer have any excuse to delay. (yey)

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  • You should try the hainanese chicken in the new place in fort. Place is called Shiok over near the shell station there.. good stuff :)

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori!
    How’ve you been? We haven’t seen each other in a looong time since the time we were all featured in Daphne’s old show!

    Loving all these food post of yours– your blog makes me crave for sweets!! *afraid, but oh boy, a little indulgence is necessary– keeps us happy :D*

    I am so happy to read about Stevie’s Chicken on your blog. I was singing praises about it– and yes, it does top Tao Yuan. They taste different from each other, but I still chose Stevie’s chicken. The olive chicken rice is soooooo good that I can eat over 3 cups of that in one sitting *realllly afraid* :)

    I’m glad to see you’re doing well :) Hope to see you soon!! A food trip is in order!

    x

    [Reply]

  • My wife can’t wait to try this. Hainanese Chicken is her favorite.

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  • oh my… we love hainan chicken rice. we never miss to order one whenever we’re in SG :P

    what other restos has yummy chicken rice?? :)

    [Reply]

    San Reply:

    Hi,

    There is a new place called Singapore Chicken Rice. The chicken rice is fantastic, especially the chilli sauce. Chicken is moist and rice is strong in flavor. But what is most authentic is the chilli sauce!

    Also try their curry….masarap! Real curry leaves!

    The best thing is…everything on the menu is under P100. Best value for buck.

    It is at the cross junction of Times Square and General Roxas street at the Araneta Business center. It is a stones throw away from the new Gateway Mall.

    Oh they serve a mean Nasi Lemak as well.

    Cheers.

    [Reply]

  • thanks for the lead on this chicken rice…can’t wait to try it!!!

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  • i have tried it Stevie V’s HCR and you will be surprised with the big serving. Really yummy and super worth the price. Must try..

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  • I tried this set last week and it was superb indeed! :) I can’t wait to order again! :)

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  • Looks so yummy! definitely have to try these!

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  • My favorite chicken rice is the one at M Cafe :) I love chicken rice and will order this set soon :D

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  • We will be having it for lunch today.. Thanks for sharing Lori.

    [Reply]

  • Lori…best post ever!!!! Burp! Burp! Burp!

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  • Oh, F is also a Hainanese Chicken Rice fan and self-proclaimed expert! ;-) Must order this soon. Hmm…his birthday’s coming up… :-D

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  • now authentic hainanese chicken rice is available in 366, T.Pinpin Binondo Manila tel 3812878 the price for chicken rice topping at P79, they also serve other hawker foods from singapore namely bak kut teh, laksa, chilli crab and ….others all food are prepare by singaporean cook

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  • is the olive rice any good? i was thinking of getting just the chicken rice! thoughts?

    I like the olive rice. It’s very mild flavored and you can hardly taste the olives.

    –lori

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  • I’m sure to order this when I go home to the philippines as preparing the perfect Hainanese chicken rice is my new obsession.

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  • Hi Lori! Thanks for the heads up. I ordered 3 trays for my mom’s birthday. It was heaven! I particularly liked the chili sauce. It was not the normal chili sauce I encounter with hainanese chicken. I even like Stevie’s version versus the one in Chatterbox in Singapore.
    Didn’t try the olive rice but will try it on my next order.

    [Reply]

  • Thanks for sharing! We plan to try this next time our friends come over. I love your words.

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  • HiLori! what’s the number of stevie villacin i tried calling the one you gave and its a wrong number.Thanks

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Leslie-
    That number is correct but I’ve also added Stevie’s landline.

    –lori

    [Reply]

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