FOOD EXPEDITIONS: Hainanese chicken rice is loved all over Southeast Asia and for good reason. It’s delish.

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Hainanese chicken rice is a dish that has become a beloved cultural heritage in Southeast Asia. Originally from Hainan, China, it has been adopted and adapted by Chinese communities throughout the region. The dish is made from boiled chicken, rice cooked with chicken oil, and a thick dipping sauce. It has been passed down from generation to generation, and the recipe has been refined over the years.

One of the most famous Hainanese chicken rice restaurants is Andrew Wong Hainanese Chicken Rice, located in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The owner, Andrew Wong Hin Hau, has been cooking Hainanese chicken rice since 2003. He believes that the most important thing for cooking Hainanese chicken rice is to choose good quality chicken, use Thai fragrant rice, and make the dipping sauce thick. Wong has been constantly improving the recipe over the years, and he has never replaced the ingredients with cheaper ones.

Wong’s restaurant sells about 180 servings of Hainanese chicken rice per day. The diners love the dish, and many of them are regular customers. Scott Chong, from China’s Guangdong province, says, “The taste is good, especially the chicken, which is tender, and the rice is fragrant.”

Thai-style Hainanese Crispy Fried Chicken Rice.

Hainanese chicken rice is not only a delicious dish, but it also represents the taste of home for overseas Chinese from Hainan. It is a vivid reflection of the cultural exchange between people in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, from history to reality. The dish has been adapted and changed over the years, depending on the country and the culture. Michael Heng Yee Boon, president of Kota Kinabalu Hainan Association, says that the Hainanese chicken rice in Malaysia is different from the one in Hainan, but it embodies the wisdom of their ancestors.

For the Hainanese, Hainanese chicken rice is not only a delicacy but also a part of their cultural roots. It is a touching moment whenever they have Hainanese chicken rice. Heng says, “For us, it’s not only a delicacy, but indeed a part of our cultural roots, and we will continue to pass it on.” The spirit of the Hainanese, especially their hardworking attitude, is still passed on from generation to generation in Malaysia.

WORDS: brice.

IMAGE CREDIT: Peachyeung316.

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