Maxwell Food Centre

During our visit to Singapore's Chinatown (牛车水), we stopped by Maxwell Food Centre for an early lunch. Located along Maxwell Road, the food court was formerly a wet market during the British colonial days. Today, it is frequented by office workers who work nearby.
The open-air hawker center consists of three rows of shops under one roof. Maxwell Food Centre has over 100 stalls that sell largely Chinese hawker fare, but there are also some food from other ethnicities.
The most popular stall here is Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (天天海南鸡饭) at lots # 10 and # 11. It is open from 10:00am to 8:00pm but is closed on Mondays. During lunchtime, it is not uncommon to see a long queue in front of the shop. One way to explain Tian Tian's popularity is that it has been visited by celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain.
The signature dish here is the Hainanese Steamed Chicken (香滑白鸡, SGD12.00 for half chicken). The main satisfaction comes from its skin that has jelly-like softness. In addition, the chicken's flesh is smooth and tender. The steamed chicken is served with light soy sauce and coriander.
A serving of Spare Parts (内脏, SGD3.00) consists of chicken liver and gizzard. I feel that it lacks the strong taste of chicken offal that I expect. You can skip this entirely unless you are particularly fond of innards.
The chicken rice (香油饭, SGD0.80) is reasonably nice but it is possible to find similar quality in Malaysia. One interesting observation is that the rice grains are mostly whole. Meanwhile, the chili sauce is somewhat lackluster; this is an area that deserves improvement.
Another popular stall (judging by the queue length) is Yi Jia Teochew Fish Porridge & Fish Soup (一家潮州鱼粥鱼汤) at lot # 66. The Pomfret Porridge (鲳鱼粥, SGD5.00) is prepared using fish stock. Unlike Cantonese-style porridge, the Teochew version has rice grains that are still intact. Included in the porridge are pieces of silver pomfret (白鲳). The condiments are fermented soybean paste (豆酱) and ginger slivers (姜丝). Although this dish is fairly tasty, I think that it does not justify the long wait.
Stall # 56 is the only stall at Maxwell Food Centre which sells Rojak (啰惹, SGD3.00). This salad is a mixture of pineapple, jicama (芒光), cucumber, youtiao (油条), tofu puff (豆卜), bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. Ginger flower (姜花) is an ingredient that is seldom used in other rojak stalls. The Rojak is dressed in sweet-spicy sauce based on shrimp paste (虾膏).
Meanwhile, stall # 57 sells soupy desserts such as Peanut Soup (花生汤, SGD1.00). Compared to Peanut Paste (花生糊), Peanut Soup is more watery and has visible pieces of peanuts. Also included are thin slices of youtiao (油条). For SGD1.00 more, the Peanut Soup comes with four pieces of tangyuan (汤圆) that contain sweet peanut paste (花生酱) or black sesame paste (黑芝麻酱).
The same stall also serves Tau Suan (豆宣, SGD1.00). This warm dessert consists of mung beans suspended in thick syrup. Due to its starchy consistency, this dessert is quite filling. If you are new to Tau Suan, I suggest that you give it a try.
Maxwell Food Centre is packed with customers during lunch hours. I notice that regular patrons have the practice of reserving seats using personal belongings. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid the peak hours if you can. Customers are expected to clear their own dishes after eating, or hand them over to one of the elderly attendants.

Address: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184
Contact: N/A
Business hours: 5:30am-8:30pm

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