Our Chatterbox chicken rice takeaway lunch probably needs no introduction. Many of us are familiar with almost legendary reputation of the chicken rice served at the coffeehouse at the Singapore Mandarin Hotel along Orchard Road. Along with other local food items, the Chatterbox chicken rice is now available by delivery or takeaway.
In the days when fancy restaurants were few in Singapore and out of reach of most people, the coffeehouses were the trendy f & b places to hang out in. Better still if they were open 24 hours. The Chatterbox was one such place. I believe its heydays were in the 70s and 80s. Chatterbox became even more famous when they started selling the humble chicken rice as a premium dish with hotel restaurant prices. It also started the trend of plating the chicken in the now ubiquitous boat-shaped dish with separate dishes for sauces. Chatterbox coffeehouse still exists at The Mandarin Orchard hotel. But it is not as bustling as before (even before COVID19). Chicken rice is still on the menu and the usual price was $27. It was available last week at 50% discount at $13.50*, it was time for us to try it.
Chatterbox Chicken Rice Takeaway
We placed our order online for a Mandarin Chicken Rice ($13.50) and a Nasi Goreng Istimewa ($13)*. One of the few positive effects about the COVID situation is the friendly traffic situation. I could park at the empty hotel driveway and go up to Chatterbox on the 5th floor to collect our food. This is what the Chatterbox chicken rice looks like in dabao form. It is like a famous celebrity turning up on stage without make-up. The most important question is – does it live up to the hype?
The short answer to the question is yes. The most special part was the rice. It is fragrant and had the right balance of dryness and fluffiness. The chicken was also very good. Silky is the word that comes to mind. I normally avoid the skin, but the ones on the Mandarin chicken rice was smooth and delicious. The portion of meat was also more substantial than what we find elsewhere for a standard serving of chicken rice.
Mandarin Nasi Goreng Istimewa
Our other dish for lunch was the Mandarin Nasi Goreng Istimewa. If not for the celebrity status of the chicken rice, the nasi goreng at Chatterbox could have been the star dish. Can you name the members of the Supremes other than Diana Ross? Probably not, most people remember only the star even when the supporting actors are also good. Like the chicken rice, this was a well balanced dish – every component – the rice, the satay, prawns, the flavouring and cooking was very good. Even the keropok (well packed separately) was nice and crisp.
Both the nasi goreng and the famous Chatterbox chicken rice were excellent takeaway items as they can survive well in plastic boxes. We are not sure that we would be equally enthusiastic about them at their full prices of $27 and $26 respectively, but at 50% they are value for money.
*Post Note – A quick look at the Mandarin Hotel website at the time of posting revealed that prices had crept up slightly. The prices as at today 3 June 2020 are $16.20 and $15.60 respectively.
Mandarin Orchard Singapore
Chatterbox, Level 5 Orchard Wing,
333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867
Tel: +65 6831 6291/6288
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog