You know how sometimes you crave simple things but you don’t know where to find a really good version of it? Well, I’ve been craving chicken rice for months now, and most recently, it has taken me all the way to Croydon to find possibly, the best chicken rice.
Croydon: The new London.
My search began with chinese restaurants around London and each trip took me further and further away from Central London. The natural place to start was Chinatown, but it didn’t raise any eyebrows. I then headed to North London, first to Singapore Garden and then to Goldfish, both of which while good wasn’t great. And then, I took the bus ride to Wing Yip at Cricklewood, which wasn’t anything to write home about. Nothing was seemingly good enough to satisfy this craving, surely there must be something around London that is good enough? And so I tapped into the collective wisdom of the twitterati, which I like to think of as a virtual pub/coffee house of random chatter. I put the question out to fellow tweeters, and like a prayer being answered, the superlicious Charzz replied, ecstatically proclaiming that the silkiest chicken could only be found in Croydon town. Visual confirmation from her iPhone twitpic and her very own seal of approval, and there and then I knew I had make the chicken rice pilgrimage. Another also loyal to food – FoodbyMark – decided to join us on this treacherous journey (National Rail) to search out for … the perfect chicken rice.
The place we were headed is called Uncle Lim’s Kitchen, but it’s known as ‘Melaka’ on the Whitgift website. So I gather that Uncle Lim’s serves Malaysian-Chinese food. The restaurant is more like a ‘Kopitiam’ or coffee shop. Situated on the 1st floor inside the shopping centre, the entire front of the shop is open to the walkway, semi open-air, or more like open to the shopping centre.
Almost instinctively, Charz ordered three plates of hainanese chicken rice as soon as we got there, each at £6. It was a Sunday, and a pleasant day outside as well, with the sun just warming us up through the skylight. The dish was so fragrant, and it was as if I was sitting in a kitchen that was making chicken soup. The rice was pastey, dense and full of chicken stock flavours. At the same time, it had this delicate mellowness that opened up my appetite. I didn’t ask for the drumstick like I usually do, and they served both breast and thigh, chopped up, with a drizzle of soya sauce and some cucumber and tomato on the side. Oh my gosh. The chicken was really silky and the puffy texture melted in my mouth so easily. To my surprise, the silkiness was from the breast meat, which is usually quite chunky. The thigh…. well that was just heaven. The whole dish was also slightly soaking in what I believe to be the soya sauce and a light broth. This sauce was rich in flavour, the palette was mostly savoury, with just a tinge of sweetness.
What is essentially an everyday dish, Uncle Lim’s chicken rice is effectively executed and it tastes exactly like what it’s supposed to: Soft, fragrant, flavoursome and full of chicken stockiness. It evoked very fond memories of food halls in Singapore and Malaysia, and it is easily the best chicken rice I’ve had in and around London so far.
Believe the hype.
Uncle Lim’s Kitchen
Upper North Arcade Whitgift Center
Croydon CRO 1UZ
020 8688 8378