Long ago a little grubbin birdie told me about Siam Sunset’s weekend only Hainam Chicken and what better day than Superbowl Sunday to do a little Hainam Chix Battle? I mean Steelers and whoevs could NOT be more interesting than Siam Sunset vs. Rodded.
Everyone knows Alhambra’s Savoy, Gourmet Pig (amongst a million China(wo)man in Western SGV) previously blogged about it. Thirsty Pig, a fella who apparently chases Hainan Chicken, proclaims Savoy to be the BEST here. Coincidentally, some Savoy chicken ended up on the dining table just 3 days before this comparo and BAM! A Chowhound thread appears a day after the leftovers. The chicken gods were culling forth a comparo fo sho!
A bit about Savoy: I’ve been. I don’t get it. It’s not annoyingly bad like The Open Door but.. I’ve always thought the crux of Hainan Chicken’s was the rice… Check out this blog post from a famous Taipei Hainan chicken joint. Look at the rice pellets. Still wholesome, unbroken, un-mushed. Savoy’s rice was always too greasy and the sauces, even multipled to 3 kinds were ho-hum. Recently, the importance of the chicken vs. rice vs sauce has become something resembling 1:1:1. Without this perfect ratio, just give me duck. Cuz c’mon! It’s poached salted chicken! How good can it be!?!
With this permanent incredulity in mind, something came along and dissolved up the Hainam Chix detente. Let’s call this the “saucy twist”. The twist had to be in the sauce. It’s what varies the most between Vietnamese Hainam Chicken (w/ thickened nuoc mac) vs Thai (what I latter found out to be soy bean + dark soy + ginger + sugar) vs Chinese (salt, oil, ginger, scallions).
First up: Rodded
nota bene: I really disdain Rodded’s roasted duck soup. It’s a bowl of soyed dish-washing water with a few chunks of unattractive duck meat and about the last thing I’d want to eat on a deserted island. Somewhere above roasted wart hog, below pineapple fried rice. And I don’t even like pineapple fried rice. But, I had to come for the chix on rice, and a comparison is just useless without at least 3 decent fighters. Upon first glance, Rodded’s product is very un-assuming. A few slices of white eat (tender, non-fat) over some rice. Based on this alone, there’s ZILCH reason to return; the rice was beyond mushy with light hint of chicken fat, chicken itself half decent, but skimpy in portion. $7 is just too expensive for what this is. Upon further inspection, the final 33% weight of the sauce just overwhelms other factors. It’s a delicate sauce. The ginger/garlic are well minced with lots of sugar and there is definite use of soy bean paste. Spot on.
Second up: Siam Sunset
A Thai buddy has long touted the
“Thai” “Chinese” breakfast Siam Sunset served. Chinese fried fritters and soy milk is ubiquitous in Western SGV. Bygones. The weekend-only Hainam Chicken is the plate du force for the day. And at the same price as Rodded ($7), it’s a heartier, earthier, more rustic sample. It’s Hainam Chicken for country bumpkin-slash-farmers! Huge plate of mix meat skin-on chicken, lightly seasoned and a plate of chicken oil rice that’s just a bit garlicky with rice kernels still in tact. Far superior to Rodded’s sample. That said, the sauce is all kinds of wrong. No soy bean paste, extremely dark and fun soy with huge chunks of ginger and lots of garlic + sugar. Wait. Call me conflicted, but I like this just as much as Rodded’s cosmopolitan sauce. This is rustic, it’s chunky, it’s Hainam chix salsa.
Now, for the question everyone wants to ask: who is the best. The annoyingly anal answer: chicken rice from Savoy (greasy as it is), sauce from Rodded, chicken from Siam Sunset for the perfect 1:1:1 ratio of goodness. Did anyone mention Pho Ga also makes an excellent Hainam Rice? With Vikon Free range chicken and a funkified nuoc mam based sauce? No?
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