F3E980B1 DAE0 4F6A 8E15 C586FFC4B9D6

Hainan Kitchen

We were craving Hainanese chicken and I recalled a restaurant that features it, so we made that our destination for lunch. A restaurant that specializes in the area where the chicken originated, has to have the best rendition of it in town, shouldn’t they? And since we drove all the way from North Burnaby to Richmond for this, we might as try most of the menu, to give a fair shake of the place.

Most notable is the amusing comic art mural, depicting a scene where the chef explains how Hainanese chicken is prepared, and the customer is amazed by the results. I figured this was foreshadowing for our meal to come, but I would be wrong.

Despite the look of the modern cafe, it is pretty much a self serve affair. You order and dine in like at a food court, paying at the counter immediately. You seat yourself at a table of your choosing and later have to return to the counter to grab your own order. Your entire menu is served on a easy to transport tray, everything is set in take out containers, and your given tray will eventually need to be emptied and set aside at their designated busking station.

As for food, naturally we had to order the Hainanese chicken rice. This is the full chicken with half breast meat and half leg meat. The full order of chicken comes with a full order of rice, where you are able to choose between jasmine rice or chicken rice. This is the latter. It also comes with a side salad and the typical sauces. The salad was a regular mix of greens topped with an Italian dressing. I do not think this is typical to Hainan.

The chicken felt on the smaller side for $31.85 (before tax). There was more white meat, than the dark meat, which I prefer (ironically cause having all white meat comes at an increase in price). The chicken really didn’t have much flavour, even after soaking and sitting in a pool of sauce; along side a layer of sliced cucumbers, just under the meat. The white meat was dry and the dark meat minimal.

You really had to use the side of sauces to inject some life into this. Luckily you get quite a bit of each. The garlic and ginger is the staple and a must, and given how much of the sauce we got, we were actually able to fully enjoy it by loading it on heavy. The chunky green sauce offered an herbaceous freshness by way of cilantro. It added depth to any bite without overpowering it. The red sauce was a chilli based sauce, and what looked and smelled spicy was actually the the perfect level of heat to add a tang and kick to the chicken.

My guest and I are also fans of Chinese style sweet and salty curry so we had to try some of that. Seeing as we already had chicken above, we opted for the beef version, which typically is a more flavourful protein anyway. We had the Curry beef brisket set, which comes served like a bento. Beef sectioned off with our choice of chicken rice over jasmine, and a another side salad. The brisket ate more like a stew than curry, especially with the sweetness of tomato paste in the mix. The tender and fatty pieces of beef were nice, but the sauce wasn’t nearly rich or hearty enough to satisfy.

They have two types of cold noodle options on the menu: a spicy Sichuan with chicken and a sesame and peanut with chicken, both prepared with hand pulled noodles. We went with the latter and got a good palette refresher from it. The chill of the noodle with its salty and sour flavour, and the peanuts for crunch offered a break from all the other dishes. Creamy and saucy, it ate with a nice mouth-feel, but only if you had some shredded chicken or julienned vegetables on your utensil, for texture.

Similar to the above, they only had two dumpling options. Both were wontons, one in a chilli sauce and the other in a “fragrant sour soup” with seaweed. We would once again go for the latter, given how much more unique it read. The soup doesn’t really drink on its own too well, mild in spice but heavy on the sour. It requires the dumpling as a base. And the dumpling is bland without a sip of soup before, and another when you began to chew. It would have been nice to have a hoisin-based, thick sauce to dip the soggy dumplings into, to help add longevity to the dish.

The last menu option were curry fish balls. Having gotten a look at them, they appeared to be the same small white balls in soupy yellow curry that you can get from the night market. Having had that before, we decided to skip that now. Besides we basically ordered their entire menu.

I don’t often mention tipping and the cost of the meal, as they are not my focus. I look at the food and the experience of dining at any given restaurant, ti be able to reference and recommend in the future. So know that the service really irked me to have me regret tipping 15%. (You have to pay before the food comes and you basically serve yourself.) There were only two employees working, a young clerk serviced the front counter and was the face of the brand. The second employee was the chef, solely operating out of the back.

I was made to feel like I was a bother to the clerk. There was no dialog from him as I asked questions regarding the menu, he seemed irritated that I had to ask. Based on his body language every request was an inconvenience, water seemed like a chore, lids for the takeout containers and a bag seemed tedious to deliver. He simply didn’t wanted to be there. Forced to work at his family’s business perhaps? I don’t expect great service from a cafe that asks you to busk your own trays, but I do expect some courtesy when you pretty much buy their entire menu for $70.

Overall, a pretty bland experience for pretty bland Hainanese chicken. Having as much as we did, I don’t feel this one bears repeating. Though in hindsight, the sauces for the chicken were really good, and we even saved them to use with subsequent meals. Therefore if you consider them in conjunction with the chicken, they definitely improve the dish. But once again, not enough to travel back for more Hainanese chicken when our craving strikes again. We will still be on the hunt for the best Hainanese chicken in the Lower Mainland.

Hainan Kitchen
485 – 9100 Blundell Rd, Richmond, BC V6Y 3X9
(604) 370-1771

1 thought on “Hainan Kitchen”

  1. We were eager for some Hainanese chicken, so we headed to a spot in Richmond known for it. Despite our anticipation, our culinary journey didn’t quite match our expectations. Stay tuned for the full story!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top