We recently went out for dinner with Kang, the one friend that I can always count on to "slum it up" and "sweat it out" at a hawker centre. We ate at Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice at Bukit Merah View, for some old-school Hainanese comfort food. While most other Hainanese curry rice stalls are only open in the day, this is possibly the only worthwhile one that's open for business at night too. Please note that, same name and dialect notwithstanding, this curry rice stall isn't in any way connected to or related to that famous chicken rice stall at Maxwell Market.
I've realized that Hainanese curry isn't particularly well-endowed in the looks department, but trust me, what it lacked in aesthetics, it more than made up for it in taste. The plain white rice rice, slathered with 3 (not 5, as some reviewers have claimed - we saw the staff ladle a scoop from only 3 different pots of curry) varieties of luscious curry gravies, made for a savoury gooey mess. Totally scrumptious. Would have been happy eating that alone.
The Stewed Cabbage was simple comfort food done to its finest. All that flavoured this were tiny little dried shrimp and really good stock. The crunch of black fungus provided some contrast with the soft cabbage. I love this, and went back for seconds. And thirds.
The Sauteed Potatoes with Mixed Vegetables, despite its less-than-appetizing dull-ish appearance, was fairly tasty. A bit average but with comforting homestyled flavours.
The Pork Ball was soaked in a pool of sweet onion brown gravy, further enhancing the flavourful marinade of the textured pork mince. Beware of tiny little rock hard pellets though. I found myself spitting out a couple of them.
The Curry Chicken was the only slight disappointment of the night. The potatoes were a tad undercooked and the chicken wasn't particularly tender. The gravy was awesome though, fiery, rich and full-bodied.
Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice
Blk 116 Bukit Merah View
Tel: 9109 6732
Open daily 9am to 9pm; Closed on alternate Mondays