Thanks for the info and perspective on the ex-pat situation; good to know (and it makes sense).
Regarding your comment about Mee & Greet, yes! We experienced that, too. It was really loud, and on our 2nd and 3rd visits it was the worst: They were blaring music (hip hop / gangster rap) (Note: I love great hip hop), but it was blasting, with no sound dampening in the restaurant at all, echoing off the walls, making it really annoying to enjoy a meal, let alone try and have a conversation with friends.
Thanks. Ah, the reason we didn’t go to Red Chicken was reports by you and others IIRC had pointed out that the restaurant was more Thai than anything and that people weren’t that impressed. Seeing they had Thai Curry, Pad Thai, Thai Ice Coffee, etc., made it feel like it’d be the Thai interpretation, so we left that off.
Dong Nguyen: I actually tried that place once years ago and thought it was OK, but we also thought it’d fall in the Vietnamese interpretation of that dish. Thanks.
For sure there is some untapped potential and areas to explore.
Quite a few places that appear to be Vietnamese chicken specialist restaurants in Fountain Valley and Westminster, and searching Com Ga in yelp returns multiple results, some look legit enough from the pictures that might be fun to try, but keeping in mind it is the Vietnamese approach to Hainan (Hai Nam) chicken rice. Should they use range chicken like some places in San Jose, it will taste great. Or for those exploring in groups, order half a chicken as an entree, then get bowls of rice vs a plate. Same principle as Cantonese roasties…rice plate cuts are at times scraps or loose ends (not the best); you want the better cuts, get a whole bird or half to go, or in the case of pork specify the cut and let the butcher deal with the rest (or buy a slab and chop it yourself at home) for best results.
Not sure if Westminster area com ga places would have it, but up here we have Com Ga Roti, which is a roast chicken with at least a soy sauce base seasoning (one rendition I had was like soy sauce chicken), sometimes a bit dryer but can be quite delicious, and usually paired (if available) with tomato rice that can be quite delicious. It’s another plate worth exploring on the side.
My baseline is Tian Tian and Ah-Tai hawker stalls in Singapore at Maxwell Centre. I’m not sure where the place you pictured is, but I don’t recognize that as the Singaporean style of HCR; the liquid broth is definitely more of a Malaysian preparation.
I know I’ve posted a picture of my meal from Ah-Tai before on here, but I ordered the combo that came with the gai lan, which is why mine was served over gai lan (and some broth). Here’s a picture of the basic HCR from Ah-Tai from another blogger:
Locally, the only place that has ever hit the spot for me was Grainivore, which was started by a Singaporean USC business school grad, and was open a little more than a year. I can say that their HCR was the only one in the same universe as that which can be found easily in SG.
Other regional styles are fine and all, but when you’re chasing a white whale they just tend to disappoint.
When I visited Singapore, I went to chatterbox, boon tong kee, and a few other random ones in hawker centers that all served the chicken on a plate of soy sauce, and the rice on the side. Are those not singaporean style?
That’s a really good question! So I googled the two restaurants you mentioned, and they definitely look a bit more elevated than your typical hawker stall. That said, they don’t look like they’re served on a plate of straight soy sauce, but rather a soy-based (with garlic?) broth, similar to what gets poured over boiled gai lan at dim sum.
I don’t know which hawker stalls you went to, but my experience was that the basic plate of HCR was dry with 3 dipping sauces on the side, sometimes a bowl of chicken broth also on the side. Chicken and rice plated together or separately.
As I said above, the combo plate I ordered at Ah-Tai included some veg (gai lan), but that was an add-on. Otherwise mine (below) would have been sans broth and as pictured above.
Edit: so I got curious and yelped some pictures of Ah-Tai, and now I’m a little more confused. The majority of their pictures seem to show the dry preparation I tend to think of, while some definitely have more of a wet presentation. Further muddying the waters is that I’m seeing different platings of ostensibly the same set I ordered, some with the chicken on top of the veg like mine, and others with the components plated separately and the chicken dry.
I’m not going to pretend to have an answer here; I’m going to ask my friends and get back to you all
@Ns1@attran99@hppzz are there are Vietnamese versions of Hainan Chicken Rice that might be noteworthy to try in Little Saigon? I remember a co-worker of mine from Vietnam took me to a place in Little Saigon a few years back and it was solid, but I forgot the name (didn’t take pics back then).
The bottom picture I posted was from Chen Ji , swiped off google images (disclaimer: Never been there myself).
The version in your picture is the ‘basic’ 1 person serving, its served in a similar fashion in Malaysia. When you order a ‘deluxe/baller’ individual serving or multi-person family style, the chicken is typically served separately doused with the light soy sauce mixture in my pic. At least that’s been my experience. I prefer the latter.
IMO the soy sauce, cilantro along with side order of bean sprouts (preferably sourced from Ipoh), gizzard & liver platter makes the perfect HCR meal.
@Chowseeker1999 I’m out, too. This one is so simple Mom would never go searching for this one in a restaurant. In more recent times, she’s gone to the trouble of sourcing a super fresh bird in Chinatown to bring it home to poach. It does make a big difference.
Toughest part is poaching the perfect chicken where the breast meat doesn’t dry out/get overcooked and ensuring the skin comes out silky soft. I still can’t get this right. My cheat is to sous vide the chicken breast with scallion and sliced ginger.
@attran99 +1 on sourcing a good birdie with deep yellow skin - free range preferably.