Tuesday, October 21, 2014

cơm gà Hội An

Remember Bui Cong Khanh's 'Chicken Rice in the Border' at 'Sensorium 360°'? Went to Food for Thought at 8Q SAM to try the inspired dish. Was a bit worried because I find the food at three outlets of this eatery rather terrible. It was disappointing to realize that the eatery didn't serve the chicken rice as earlier indicated, but instead offered a version as 'Hoi An Borderlands Chicken Salad', and coffee of 'Ca Phe Latte in the Border'. Ordered both.

Food for Thought's 'Hoi An Borderlands Chicken Salad', at S$14, was surprisingly decent. It was chockful of ingredients. Wonderful! It wasn't a sad limp mess. Poked a tiny piece of shredded chicken breast meat and left the rest for the friends. Heee. Me and chicken aren't compatible. But I loved the spices in the salad dressing and the mixture of greens.

With the closing of 'Sensorium 360°' on 22 October 2014,
Food for Thought 8Q SAM's Vietnamese dishes are now off the menu .

Obviously I'm not a fan of Singapore Hainanese chicken rice. The man is. But we agree that the local version is fairly two-dimensional and we focus more on the rice than the meat. It's easier to get the meat right than find a balance for the rice. A less oily version of the rice is always better.

In Hội An, we can't miss out on the authentic versions of cơm gàRestaurants offer it, and plenty of street stalls do a fantastic version. Never mind the chicken. I'm curious about the rice and wouldn't mind understanding the flavors. Oddly, I've never eaten this dish in all my visits to Vietnam. Here, get out of Ancient Town, avoid the fancy eateries, find the street stalls, pick one and order it. Ate this four times at different stalls. Gave all the chicken to the man.

For me, I love this version of chicken rice over Singapore's local versions. Simply because cơm gà Hội An uses so many spices, and has a variety of dipping sauces at the side. Importantly, once there's fish sauce, slivers of young papaya and carrot, onions, mint and lime juice, the entire flavor of the dish is altered. The combination of flavors is something I really like. The shredded meat (kampong chicken usually, of course) is thin and sometimes chewy. The meat isn't the star, so there're few pieces of it, and that's why I like it. Less stinky. The turmeric-stained short-grain rice is the winner for me, along with nước mắm. It has to be nước mắm; Thai naam plaa won't taste the same.

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