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Home / Chinese Cuisine / The Hainanese Curry Rice Challenge: Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice – Part 3 of 15
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The Hainanese Curry Rice Challenge: Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice – Part 3 of 15
By Alfred September 25, 2009
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The Hainanese Curry Rice Challenge: Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice – Part 3 of 15
Fast Facts
The Hainanese Curry Rice Challenge
Hainanese Curry Rice
Chinese Cuisine
Coffee Shop
Price Range:
S$1 - S$5
Rating Range:
7 to 7.9
Bukit Merah (红山)
Food Centre:
Recommended For:
Dinner Lunch
Reviewed by:
[This is a multi-part series looking for the best Hainanese Curry Rice around Singapore.]

See other parts:
Part 1: Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice (Tiong Bahru)
Part 2: Traditional Hainanese Curry Rice (Kallang)
Part 3: Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice (Bukit Merah)
Part 4: Jia Xiang Hai Nan Curry Rice (Whampoa)
Part 5: Hougang Hainanese Curry Rice (Bendemeer)
Part 6: Havelock Hainanese Curry Rice (Sims Place)
Part 7: Hainanese Curry Rice (Beo Crescent)
Part 8: Feng Kee Hainanese Curry Rice (P. Panjang)
Part 9: Chew Feng Hainanese Curry Rice (B. Keng)
Part 10: Red Hill Curry Rice (Red Hill)
Part 11: Scissors Cut Curry Rice (Jalan Besar)
Part 12: Zhong Guo Jie Jia Li Fan (Maxwell Road)
Part 13: Red Sea Curry Rice (Upper Thomson)
Part 14: Sin Chie Tok Huan (Hougang)
Part 15: Whampoa Market Curry Rice (Whampoa)
Wrap-Up: The Hainanese Curry Rice Challenge

Hainanese of today are actually descendents of a melting pot of different tribes/groups, who over the centuries adopted local lingo from all Chinese dialects and cultivated their own festive practices.

For those who doesn’t know, in the past, Hainan Island was a place where all the exiled scholarly officials(文官) were kept and they came from all over China. So theoritically, if you are a Hainanese, chances are your ancestors might be prominent court officials who were serving Emperors!

If you go to Hainan Island today, you can find Hainanese Chicken Rice but the technique of cooking this dish was not perfected there but in this part of the world. So needless to say, the Chicken Rice there is very different. And according to some reliable sources, it actually tastes quite awful in Hainan.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls

And something that you can’t find in Hainan Island for sure is the chicken rice balls or what I call the Hainanese Sushi. In Singapore, Hainanese use it during Qingming Festival for offerings and after our ancestors had ‘partake’ their food, we would chuck these oily rice balls away. But in places like Melaka, these rice balls are essentials as they eat it with their chicken as part of their Chicken Rice meal especially breakfast, yes Hainanese there do eat really authentic Hainanese food for breakfast. That might just explain why we have some Hainanese Curry Rice stalls doing business as early as breakfast time.

Hainanese curry on rice 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Hainanese pork chop 8.5/10 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 

Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice is one such stall. They open as early as 830am to feed people who need a curry fix early in the morning. Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice is not to be mistaken with the Tian Tian in Maxwell Market though that one is also Hainanese but is Chicken Rice instead.

Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice has 2 branches, one in Teban Garden and one in Bukit Merah. Not sure if it’s a franchise business but the food on display did have the ‘factory made’ symptom written all over with fanciful spotlights and all. I mean most Hainanese Curry Rice stalls that I’ve been to can’t be bothered to install attractive signboards so Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice come across as a really ‘modern’ Hainanese Curry Rice.

Hainanese pork belly 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Hainanese stewed cabbage 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

Hainanese Lor Bak(pork belly), Bak Pa(pork cutlet) and stewed cabbage were ordered. It was self service and the total amount came up to $5. So see, I told you. I’m paying for the fanciful spotlights they have all over the display. As compared to Traditional Hainanese Curry Rice at Old Airport Road, this is already $2 more expensive so while retrieving my food and looking for a table, I was left thinking, that this have to be really really good in order to score for value.

Well, though value is a little hard to score here, in shiokadodoness, it was outstanding! This Hainanese Curry Rice is one of the best I’ve eaten. The pork chop was very special. While it looked just a plain piece of deep fried pork in the display, it came in some kind of thick gravy which was seriously delicious. It reminds me of Hainanese Western Food where you also get some something similar poured over steaks or chops. This is by far the best Hainanese ‘Pork Chop’ I’ve eaten. The layers of fats in the Lor Bak were very very soft, almost turned into liquid in my mouth. The flavour wasn’t something spectacular but for softness, it deserves top marks. The cabbage was distinctively a Hainanese ‘version’ with a little bit of sweetness but yet not too much. The curry on the rice was a mild one with what looked like chilli sauce mixed with it.

The balance was perfect for me. All of those dishes are very Hainanese and I finished all of it at one go. My only complain is that the portion is a little small for a $5 meal. The Lor Bak and the Ba Pa was hardly enough for me, gone with a few bites.

If only this was $3 and if only this stall is in the east side, I can have this for lunch very often! Though it scores low on ‘valuability’ but scores very high for authenticity. Now I can see the reason why they have 2 branches.

Price: $5

Recommendation: Hainanese Stewed Cabbage, Hainanese Pork Chop and Hainanese Pork Belly and others

Conclusion: Price a little on the high side but very authentic Hainanese food. For $5, the Pork chop and Lor Bak was barely enough for me. Maybe it would be cheaper if they put everything on the same plate. Can’t see myself travelling all the way to Bukit Merah often, if only they have a branch in the eastern part of Singapore.

Likes: Gravy on the pork chop is very very very very good.

Dislikes: Portion too small.

Address Overall Rating

Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice
Blk 116 #01-253
Bukit Merah View
Henly Huat Drinks Food Court
8.30am to 9.30pm
Off: Alt Tue

8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

6/10 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 

8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 


Readers' Comment(s) : 5
Alex says:

There is one famous one at beo crescent. Lunch time alwis lng queue.

Posted September 25, 2009
Alfred says:

Yes I’ve eaten at that one too. Review coming up soon..

Posted September 26, 2009
May says:

There is also another branch of this at Maxwell market. Somewhere in the middle row.

Posted September 27, 2009
Alfred says:

You talking about the tian tian hainanese chicken rice?

Posted September 28, 2009
William says:

There is one branch of Tian Tian at Ion Ochard, just newly opened. This brand of curry rice first started at Silat Road in the 1920s.

Posted October 15, 2009
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