Maxwell Road Food Centre: Ah Tai vs Tian Tian

The rivalry between Ah Tai and Tian Tian is a well-documented one. Ah Tai, a recent addition to the decorated Maxwell Food Centre, is a spin-off from Tian Tian, the chicken rice heavyweight that famously beat celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey in a cooking showdown.

Both stalls are barely 10 meters apart along the same row and sport similar deep blue signage, but the queues are longer at Tian Tian. Although...I did notice that many in the Tian Tian queue were tourists, distinguished by their guidebooks and maps. Tian Tian, with its illustrious background, is evidently more known by the international community.

Tian Tian

Tian Tian's Chicken ($5.70) is clear and light, but served jarringly chilled. It was like eating leftover chicken straight from the fridge. It would have fared much better tepid or even at room temp. That said, it was juicy, the fluffy rice was tasty and surprisingly not oily, while the heady chilli was redolent of ginger.

The stall facade for reference.

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Tel: 9691 4852
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11am to 10pm; Closed on Mondays (insider tip: they actually open by 10.30am, so if you hit them up at that time, there's hardly a queue)


Ah Tai

Instead of competing with his mentor Tian Tian, Ah Tai had clearly put his own mark on his rendition of Chicken Rice ($3). The chicken was pleasantly tepid and a smidge more flavourful and smoother, the rice is oilier and tastier, and the chilli more balanced, and brighter with the liberal drippings of lime. All things considered, I actually preferred Ah Tai's version.

The stall facade for reference.

Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice
Stall 7
Tel: 8137 6559
Open daily from 11am to 10pm (insider tip: they actually open by 10.40am, so if you hit it up at that time, you wouldn't have to queue at all)

Maxwell Road Food Centre
1 Kadayanallur Street

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