Pin Xiang Hainanese Chicken Rice's (品香雞飯) fastidious adherence to quality, process and tradition has almost secured itself cult status among ordinary folks seeking delectable eats at affordable prices - abundantly evident from hordes often seen making a beeline for its stall inside Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre during lunch and dinner hours. Specially handpicked birds (each must weigh at least 2.2kg to qualify for the death penalty) are delivered fresh from farms thus ensuring textural consistency meat-wise; no expense is spared either in making certain both rice and chili sauce served meet stringent authenticity standards cultivated and refined over 3 decades.

Besides offering customary steamed and roasted versions of the signature dish, Pin Xiang also puts forth interesting interpretations such as Salad Chicken Rice and Thai Chicken Rice, alongside non-mainstream "snacks" including Crispy Bean Curd and Vegetables With Oyster Sauce.

Sampling and thoughts:

We dutifully queued like everyone else, and were thankful seasoned hands taking charge efficiently cleared one giant backlog of customers preceding us; yet every passing minute saw even more crashing the party, thus hardly according them sufficient pause for breath. Imagine having to cope with such constantly overwhelming buzz 12 hours a day (ah yes Pin Xiang operates from 9.30am to 9.30pm), 7 days a week...... our collective hearts resolutely salute these superhuman hawkers.

On this particular occasion an immense emptiness already gnawing away because of two consecutive meals skipped prior was exacerbated by yummy smells broadcasted five by five all around, hence a sizeable spread ordered that had folks glancing our way in a mix of amusement and disbelief. Oh well, whatever.

Bona fide chicken rice fans will be acutely cognizant of how difficult it is to whip up phenomenally tasting rice: enabling added pandan leaves, garlic and ginger to rouse not nauseate, granting chicken stock and oil adequate passage to effuse their essences without instigating overly weepy, greasy grains......the list of requirements continues. It was therefore heartening Pin Xiang's propositioned satisfying fluff and aroma less dreaded oily undertones, albeit a granular dryness persisting throughout. Paired with thick, full-bodied chili bearing all the hallmarks of god's wrath and unrelenting prick, be prepared to go zing then zang sideways.

Between the Roasted Chicken Rice and Thai Chicken Rice tried (insofar as chicken versus chicken is concerned), the former ended up one salty misfire featuring plump, succulent meat tragically hosed down by too damn much soy sauce; the latter yielded lusciously marinated, skilfully breaded flesh glazed in a middling sweet and sour relish.

Roasted Chicken Rice (Small-$3, Regular-$3.50)

Thai Chicken Rice ($3.50)

The Crispy Bean Curd (six immaculately decked tofu cubes flaunting crisp exteriors painted by a piquant dressing with peanuts, cucumber and carrot wisps heaped on) pleasantly surprised. Each mouthful unleashed an intense explosion of sensations: silky warmth, crackling oomph and tropical zest intimately whooshed together. Now we are talking.

Crispy Bean Curd ($3.50)

Total damage for our dinner stood at $10.50 - remarkably reasonable on account of voluptuous portions served and food deemed above average. Still, there's probably some way to ascend before Pin Xiang can truly lay claim to being among the very best chicken rice vendors.

Note: Prices subject to change without prior notice. Kindly clarify with stall before visiting or ordering.


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Score: 7.4/10

Editor's Note: Four other outlets have subsequently opened; their addresses are included below as well for convenient reference.

Locations

Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre Chong Pang Food Centre Frontier Building
208B New Upper Changi Rd, Yishun Ave 5, 50 Ubi Ave 3,
#01-03 #01-151 #01-03
Singapore 460209 Singapore 760105 Singapore 408867

Changi Airport Terminal 4 Changi General Hospital
10 Airport Boulevard, 2 Simei Street 3,
NTUC Food Emporium Mini Restaurant 4, #02-205 NTUC Foodfare, #01-30/31
Singapore 819665 Singapore 529889