Hainan Chicken-What's the fuss about?

I’ve had great Hainan chicken rice at a couple of now-closed Singaporean places.

I will forever miss Grainavore and their amazing Hainan Chicken. :confused:


Me too! Grainivore’s was the best!

1 Like

Generally netiquette… NO CROSSPOSTING.


1 Like

Crossposting is fine on this site, especially when the post on another site gets so much less response.


because we all moved here

Seems true for the LA board. Not so much for any of the others so far.

It’s not a placebo effect. It is unquestionably a better tasting chicken. It may be the same genetic breed, but it is not fed the same. If it wasn’t a high quality chicken, then restaurants like Spago and Drago Centro wouldn’t be putting it on their menus.

Craft uses Mast chocolate. Blue Hill Stone Barns used Mast choco. Jidori is the Mast Bros of chicken.

Email the owner: Dennis@jidorichicken.com ask 'em about the feed.

Don’t get me started on the Mast Bros

1 Like

I call BS on that for reasons that are too obvious to list here.

well. apparently we were the most offended, though i’ve noticed that a few posters who are more PR’s than folks seeking asylum as they still post in CH - which is their perogative.

I’m not going to email the guy. I’ve eaten it enough times to know it’s absolutely better than ordinary chicken. And I do not believe it’s all due to the amazing cooking skills of the restaurants that use it. It’s also a fact that wild salmon tastes better than farmed salmon. I’m not an expert on salmon or chicken culinary biology so I’m not going to explain why these things are true; they just are.

If your point is that Mast Bros. isn’t that great: I agree with you. And I think Spago and Drago Centro are in a different league from Craft.

The Jidori web site says they “start early in the morning, and guarantee that your whole birds are delivered immediately,” so the flesh should be very firm from rigor mortis, which is traditional in Cantonese cooking. The normal practice in the US is to wait a few days for the rigor mortis to subside before sale.

Interesting. I think
there are often things that we don’t get that other cultures just go crazy
over. The fact that millions like something shouldn’t be intimidating. After all,
millions and millions and billions have bought MickyD’s burgers. Popularity is
certainly an important thing, but it isn’t everything.

Two cases for me:

  1. Dezhou Ji/ Dezhou city style chicken.

Somewhat interesting history – interesting methods, and
oddly of little interest to Western diners as far as taste goes.

Dezhou was an important garrison town on the border of the
Zhili direct rule areas (Hebei/Henan I guess) and more southerly areas (don’t’
want to start looking at maps and sites).
The bannermen who worked the garrison weren’t allowed to purchase land
or any property as they needed to be moved as the state needed their services
in different areas. So they used their excess cash on food and theater and
entertainments (well, a whole bunch did). And Dezhou came up with a variation
of how to prepare chicken.

One method of cooking chicken in China was a type of boiling. A raw
chicken was placed in a pot and boiling water poured over it. When the water
had cooled it was drained and another pot of boiling water was poured on the chicken.
This was repeated until the chicken was
cooked. This method results in a very juicy chicken – no direct heat, with a
texture that is often prized in China,
chewy, meaty, etc. but with very little flavor as the chicken absorbs nothing
from the cooking liquid. The chicken was then eaten with a good variety of
dipping sauces which would flavor the meat.

In Dezhou, the
variation was that the boiling water pots were highly seasoned (star anise,
soy, peppers, cinnamon, etc – up to individual chefs) and the resulting in a
much more flavorful meat and still keeping the prized texture.

101 Noodle Express in Alhambra,
when they first opened, had a huge sign in Chinese – BIG characters,
proclaiming that they have Dezhou Chicken (they still do). This was their
selling point, at least to the market that could read the sign. So I’d never
had it, although I’d read about it and heard that in China it was made in Dezhou
and shipped in sealed plastic all over the country Went to the resto, tried it.

Well, it was flavorful, but just tasted like any braised chicken. It was
juicier and chewier but those aren’t qualities that I’ve been raised to expect
in good quality chicken – in fact, too juicy and chewy reads as raw-ish to me,
which is on the less desirable scale.
SO, it was fine, it was OK, but nowhere as appealing to me as the beef
roll which I discovered there and the huge variety of dumplings (and the
Beijing style yogurt from the late Blue Cherry of Alhambra which seems to have closed).
So, there you are. I don’t’ think that non-Chinese or let’s say non-East Asian
diners would really get the greatness of Dezhou chicken – maybe on an
intellectual level, but the criteria of the bird aren’t the same.

The other time – similar. Near Mont St Michel in Normandy (but near the Breton line) are marshy
flats where seaweed and marsh grass grow. The area is undersea for part of the
day and when the tide goes out, is exposed to the sun, and sheep come and graze
on the grasses. They ingest a large amount of salt and salty grass which stays
in their system. When the sheep are slaughtered, the legs of mutton (gigot) are
roasted and served- gigot de prés sales or some such (please correct).

So I was there, pretty young, and my group all went to try this specialty. In
order to really appreciate it, though, the meat must be nearly raw for the more
it’s cooked, the more the salt in the juices flows out of the meat. So I’m
eating a near raw, relatively tough mutton leg. Was it salty? Yes. Was the
saltiness well-distributed throughout the meat? Sure. Would it have been that different if it had
been roasted a bit longer and we’d just added salt, NOT AT ALL. Again, sure –
it was salty and I get the romance of it. But as far as flavor goes, it was
just salty mutton, and the same effect was easily achieved in a simpler way.

IN any case, two dishes that were famous and whose great local appeal was understandable but really, i have to say, eludes me.


Great history. Thanks for the description. :smile:

Dezhou chicken is supposed to pick up a distinctive flavor and aroma from its poaching liquid, which includes soy, sugar, Sichuan pepper, star anise, and a dozen other aromatics.

Agneau de pré-salé (salt marsh lamb) is not saltier than other lamb. Legally it must be less than a year old so it should be lamb, not mutton.

1 Like

Yes the liquid used is seasoned as you said. I believe it isn’t poached in the conventional western method but the way which was described.
The agneau I had, granted many years ago, was certainly not a spring lamb. IF it was nearly a year old but still under, I wouldn’t be surprised, if the meat wasn’t supposed to have a special flavor from the marsh grasses and seaweed ingested, then I really don’t understand the appeal. The residual flavor I think we can both agree would be saline in nature. In anu case, if you’ve eaten it and can describe what you found to be special that I missed, please do so as I’d love to be more informed.
emphasized text

It’s appeal is probably akin to thanksgiving turkey (or pot au feau). Just ask any recent Asian migrant or resident of their opinion on roast turkey and you’ll likely receive a puzzled grimace… Something you’ve grown up with or just had a really excellent version in Singapore or Malaysia.

I haven’t come across any decent versions locally, frankly thought Savoy’s interpretation is quite poor.

My DIY suggestion is to order a “princess chicken” to go from one of the better restaurants in SGV and follow boogiebaby’s instructions below to complete the dish. I’d add some shredded scallions, cilantro, sliced cucumbers and perhaps a side of parboiled bean sprouts seasoned in the same soy sauce, sesame oil and chicken stock noted below. And if you’re adventurous, add a side of gizzards and just cooked chicken liver

Serving suggestion

1 Like

Whoa Jidori may not be Japanese breed here in the USA but they still are natural chickens.

Truth is they source from multiple chicken producers but one of their main sources is Mary’s. How do you think Mary’s got so big all of a sudden in the last couple years? Jidori kept giving money to produce pricier chickens.

If you look at wholesale chicken prices Jidori’s and Mary’s are very similar. Only difference is Jidori doesn’t air chill their chickens but rather wet chills em.

Jidori’s business is delivering chickens the same day they’re slaughtered. Other than that I’m pretty sure they’re exactly the same chickens their suppliers sell.