Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hainanese Chicken @ Grand Café, Grand Hyatt Hotel (Hong Kong) – ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

  Hainanese Chicken Rice originated from Hainan region in China,  but there are numerous evolving  representatives of it all found over Asia -  the original  & most authentic Hainanese style such as the one served at  Hainan Restaurant  is served bone-in,  the soup carries lettuce, and sometimes winter melon and chicken giblets,  and the rice can be served in rice ball forms,  but most pertinently it should use a white-skinned Man Cheong chicken breed which feeds on coconuts and worms,  but kept in dark cages to give it that translucent white skin  (They don’t really see daylight,  *evil*).   The Thai versions have a more liberal use of yellow turmeric powder and like the original Hainan version,  is not served with Dark Soy Sauce by default.     The boneless versions eaten in Sing-Malay regions however has taken the world by storm, despite not being the most authentic -  and this influence has shaped the way HK’s customers also prefer their Chicken Rice to be served as well!   Authenticity to taste preferences in every region,  has never been linearly co-related.



Beautiful Bread Basket -
Loved the cheesy roll and the sesame crisp, also the pumpkin seed bread.   HK restaurants honestly serve very good bread in general,  although one would expect this to be the case in this 6 star status Grand Hyatt Hotel  -  even if this is only their Café !



Butter -



Hainanese Chicken Rice  (Singapore-Malaysian Style version) -  HKD $235
Half Thigh and Half Breast was ordered,  and despite the highish price there was easily double the meat as most other shops!      The chicken is deboned,  and served with ginger/shallot paste,  dark soy sauce and a chili sauce.   This is more of a modernised Singaporean version in my opinion?



Chicken Thigh and Breast,  with Veggies  -
The dish was very presentable and cut neatly,  also cooked quite well.  The chicken skin’s texture was not rubbery thick,  like many non fresh chickens and the meat texture and taste was good rather than jumping out in your face.   At $235 it is at a premium price,  but you are guaranteed quality ingredients. In fact,  I personally don’t think $235 including a good bread basket is all that expensive in a 6 Stars Hong Kong Hotel setting or anywhere else in the world.   It is the norm and you can sit here for hours with a harbour view and great service.    ~  8/10



Trio of Sauces -
The Shallots & Ginger paste is more Cantonese than the more gingery & garlicky paste than Singapore and Malaysia.  ~  7/10    
The Dark Soy is everyone’s favourite,  here it’s good but not exactly viscous or blows your mind but at least it’s not caramelized until bitter  (this is not served in original Hainanese or Thai versions)  ~  6.5/10
The Chili Sauce was the weakest link.  It is not ‘exotic’ at all without much chiliness, garlic taste nor aroma.  It also lacks a lemon or lime juice input which gives it a lifeliness.  ~  3/10




Chicken Rice -
Hong Kong’s rice usually suffers a common problem in that it is too wet, 2ndly it does not have much chicken stock, herbs nor chicken oil taste.    The latter might not be perfect in places like Singapore either but from my observation -  Singapore never over cooks the rice.  Fortunately,  the Grand Hyatt Grand Café version was one of the rare few to remain nicely fluffy.   Mostly tasting of Galangal & Chicken Stock,   there was also a weak hint of Chicken Oil followed by Lemon Grass & Shallots oil.  No signs of Pandan.    By HK’s standards,  this is at least Top 3 grade.  By Singaporean standards from what I tried recently,  this is probably within Top 5 easily.   ~  7.5/10


Chicken and Wintermelon Soup -
This was surprising because it tasted more like a clear chicken consommé and very natural.  Not salty at all but quite Chinese medicinal soup like.   At 1st glance too bland,  and definitely not for everyone.  But since HK is Cantonese and soups are an important part of our daily diet,  I’ve got to say that this consommé like soup was packed with ONLY natural essences.   There has been a lot of work gone into making this to be this way,  but I think to most others the difference is too minute to be discernible.   Result of a street stall food made into higher end hotel food,  but I do appreciate it here.   Hard to rate.    ~    5/10 as a street soup,  9/10 for hotel quality soup.




Breast Meat -
A little cold below room temperature.   At least it is moist enough though not exactly tender either.   One always measures something relative to other shops’ performances vs theory and self expectations.    I would score this chicken only 7/10 from my envisaged 100% potential in terms of chicken taste and cooking tenderness only!    But compared to the Singaporean chickens I ate lately,  this is easily right up there at the top.  Scored is re-adjusted and scaled to reflect this as of 2012  ~   8/10



Dark Meat of Chicken Thigh -
The Chicken’s meat taste is not as good as the best free range & freshly slaughtered chickens in China or HK,  but was not below the best of the best Kampong chickens in Singapore either.   The meat was naturally more tastier, gelatinous and tender than the above breast meat.   I think this is good but not exceptional for a chicken dish.  But as a Hainanese chicken dish compared on a world basis,  this was quite natural and balanced and to be enhanced by the sauce.   ~  7/10





My Overall verdict and summary break down,  independent of that nice harbour view or extravagant Hotel Price for a simple Hainanese Chicken Rice Set !!  -

Chicken Taste & Seasoning –  ★★★★
Chicken Freshness – ★★★★★
Chicken Tenderness and Moistness – ★★★★ 1/2

Sauces & Compliments 
(Too mild from being exotic even for a hotel) – ★★★
(a little under-salted and unconventional, but elegant) – ★★★★ 1/2
Rice (Fluffy dry as a long grain, Galangal biased but lacking exotic chicken oil aroma) -  ★★★★
Price Factor – ★★

OVERALL -  ★★★★ 1/2



Price:  HKD $235 + $65 for Tea,  + 10%
Ease of Access:   2/5 (Buses such as 18 run along here, around 15 min from MTR station)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun    6:30am – 12:00 Midnight
Address: 灣仔港灣道1號君悅酒店大堂
Lobby, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai
Ph: 2584 7722


  1. I agree for Grand Hyatt :) it's actually not that expensive ~ I don't see many places service Hainanese chicken rice in HK. I know they're everywhere in Melbourne because there's a lot of Malaysian restaurants :D

  2. The ones that my mom makes are the best. Nuff said. :D hehehe.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...