This takeaway-friendly box of chicken rice is what Nono would make if he was asked to revamp Singapore’s most beloved hawker dish. For $6.90, you get two big pieces of bone-in crispy fried chicken thigh and breast, a small serving of Hainanese chicken rice in a paper cup, a heap of achar and the proprietary chilli sauce. First, the rice — unlike the traditional chicken rice where jasmine grains are dry-fried with chicken fat for rich, albeit greasy, flavour, the rice here is cooked with chicken broth boiled with chicken bones, lemongrass, ginger, onions and fresh pandan leaves.
“The fried chicken already has some grease, so we didn’t want to add chicken [fat] to the rice as it would be too oily for some customers,” says Monga’s local franchise boss Lem Chong, whose F&B company Baoshi Group also runs the franchised mall outlets for famed homegrown chicken rice chain Wee Nam Kee. (But nope, Monga’s proprietary chicken rice recipe is not adapted from Wee Nam Kee’s version).
Fortunately, the al-dente chicken rice here is still fragrant and infused with distinctive chicken flavour, though we miss the greasy shiokness of good hawker centre chicken rice. But it does go well with the fried chicken, which boasts plump, succulent meat and crispy (if a tad dry) skin.
Monga is also particularly proud of its house chilli sauce, a concoction made with bird’s eye chilli, garlic, lemongrass and a “secret ingredient”. The sauce is now available at Monga’s two other outlets. It’s not very spicy, or as diluted as your average kopitiam chicken rice stall’s chilli sauce, but has just the right amount of viscosity for dipping your fried chook in. Our grouse is that it’s too sweet. Skip the dry, bland pineapple, cucumber and carrot achar.