The Little Red Dot

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February 18, 2008
Cuisine: Singaporean

21 Tu Xuong Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: 9325123
Website: none

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Mi Phuc Kien – Singaporean stir fried noodles with egg, pork, squid and chives (38,000 VND)

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Heo quay, xa xieu – plain BBQ pork and sweet BBQ pork (40,000 VND)

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Hainanese chicken (40,00 VND)

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Hainanese rice

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Soy sauce, chili paste, ground ginger sauce, chili sauce

I was watching No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain a few weeks back when I learned about a Singaporean sensation by the name of Hainese chicken rice. Chicken has never really appealed to me because I find that regardless of the preparation, the chicken usually just ends up tasting like chicken. Yawn… Pork, on the other hand, takes on flavors well and can be prepared a zillion unique ways—sausage, ham, bacon, loaf, etc. Hence, it is my favorite.

Even with my general lack of enthusiasm for chicken, Bourdain’s segment was so damn convincing that I sought out chicken rice for lunch that very day. Talk about the power of the tube!

The Astronomer had previously read about The Little Red Dot in an expat magazine, which boasted that the Singaporean-Vietnamese owners dished out great chicken rice. With Lush in tow, we headed to the eatery to taste the subtle goodness that is chicken rice.

According to Bourdain, chicken rice is made by boiling a chicken in ginger and other aromatics. Once the bird is thoroughly cooked, it is dunked into a large pot of ice cold water to congeal the fat and keep the meat moist. The rice is made from the resulting chicken broth, along with garlic and sesame oil.

The Little Red Dot’s version of chicken rice was everything Bourdain said it would be, minus the plethora of delectable sauces he had on hand in Singapore. I found all of the condiments available (chili sauce, soy sauce, chili paste and ground ginger sauce) flat and unspectacular; most likely because I didn’t know how to use them properly. The room temperature chicken was better off eaten without adornments on this visit. The Astronomer, Lush and I adored the fluffy rice with its faint notes of ginger and garlic.

The BBQ pork platter came with some rice as well. The heo quay’s crispy skin and centimeter of fat was quite good, while the sweet xa xieu was my favorite of the afternoon—candied pork. The Singaporean noodle dish, which was a touch heavy on the gravy, tasted thick and comforting.

This was a decent initial introduction to Singaporean cuisine and I am excited to delve further. Aside from chicken rice, what are Singapore’s signature dishes?

15 Responses to “The Little Red Dot”


  1. 1 Raine March 5, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Oh you really should see the original German movie ‘Bella Martha’. It was so lovely I don’t even dare to watch the english remake ‘No Reservations’. The White on Rice Bloggers also agree😀 So if you have a chance, do watch the original (:

    The food looks yummy😀

  2. 2 Wandering Chopsticks March 5, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Cathy! Sheesh! You should’ve asked me.😛

    Don’t look for Singaporean renditions of com ga Hai Nam when VN has its share of Hai Namese immigrants, including my family.😉 If you’re ever up in the South Central coast, get the real stuff (and while you’re at it, get some nem nuong). Those sauces are the general Chinese flavors, my family serves it with nuoc mam gung, which is sooo much better.

    Sorry, no addresses of places though! I get the good stuff at home. And I haven’t gotten around to releasing the secret family recipe for com ga yet.😉

  3. 3 Su-Lin March 5, 2008 at 6:58 am

    That looks like a great Hainanese chicken rice – shame about the sauces. Other Singaporean dishes to look out for are chai tow kueh (fried radish cake), chili crab, and fried Hokkien noodles (the Singaporean kind is totally different from the Malaysian kind).

  4. 4 James March 5, 2008 at 7:31 am

    The “dot” reminds me of Target🙂 I love Hainanese chicken, especially the ground ginger paste sauce. See if you can get the recipe and share with us, thanks!🙂

  5. 5 David L March 5, 2008 at 9:10 am

    The chicken in Hanoi was a zillion times better than what I’ve eaten in Singapore. Village chicken wins hands down over over-processed caged birds for taste anytime.

  6. 6 Neneh March 5, 2008 at 10:18 am

    My mom makes com ga with nuoc mam gung that is YUMMY! The rice is just SO flavourful, cooked in the chicken broth. When my parents left Vietnam on their rickety boat, they landed in Hainam for a few months when their boat broke down. My mom says their chickens are like no others. When I was young, we used to go to the native reserves to buy their free range chicken, so it would be more authentic to this dish.

  7. 7 Gastronomer March 5, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Raine – No Reservations is the name of Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel show on Discovery Travel and Living. I caught his episode on Singaporean food. And I am TOTALLY going to watch Bella Martha when I get back stateside.

    WC – great advice. I’ve seen some Viet/Hainese places and will try them in the near future. And you’re ABSOLUTELY right about nuoc mam gung – I was eating the ginger sauce and thinking that it needed a healthy splash of nuoc mam. Grandma makes a great nuoc mam gung to go with her chao vit.

    Su Lin – I will definitely look out for these recommendations the next time I dine at a Singaporean restaurant. Thanks.

    James – once I head back stateside, I’ll get my hands on grandma’s nuoc mam gung recipe.

    David – word. Although I’m hopeful, I’m afraid Vietnam’s rapid development will lead to poorer quality meats😦 I guess that means I should eat the good ones before the fun ends!

    Neneh – You are a lucky one! I think I was raised on Zacky Farms chickens, which may explain why I am not fond of this type of meat.

  8. 8 White On Rice Couple March 7, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Sniff, Sniff…I’m a rat and it’s my year. So sad.😦
    Eat a bunny instead.

  9. 9 Mama BoK March 8, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Laksa, Mee Siam, Nasi Lemak and loads more .. for singapore is a multi national country. Should you visit singapore.. i’m pretty sure the folks at the makansutra forum would gladly bring you around.

  10. 10 Gastronomer March 8, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Thanks, Mama! Would LOVE to visit Singapore one of these days. Laksa, Mee Siam, Nasi Lemak are on the list🙂

  11. 11 catherine lowe January 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    The noodle is appealing…
    The pork BBQ too. You know what? I take all!🙂

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