NEVER AGAIN LIST – Mandarin Chicken Rice FAIL by Chatterbox Cafe at K11 Musea, TST

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29th November 2019 – (Hong Kong) The Legendary Award-winning Mandarin Chicken Rice by Chatterbox from Singapore which opened its doors in September at K11 Musea in TST has earned the Hall of Fame distinction as a Heritage Brand by Singapore Prestige Brand Award. Chatterbox established since 1971 prides itself on the hugely popular Mandarin Chicken Rice which has evolved into one of Singapore’s most celebrated local dishes.

Don’t be deceived by their promotional picture used on their social media page. Picture source : Chatterbox Cafe Hong Kong’s Facebook.

In Singapore, the Mandarin Chicken rice costs around S$27 (HK$157) and it is outrageous as a similar dish can be enjoyed for a small fraction of that price in a hawker stall. We have savoured the local dish in Singapore some time ago and honestly, Tien Tien Chicken Rice deserves a better rating than this overrated comfort food served in a posh hotel.

Chicken is dry and bland at Chatterbox, K11 Musea.

When we heard about the opening of Chatterbox Cafe in Hong Kong, we decided to wait a couple of weeks as Hong Kongers have a fetish for queues when it comes to new openings. They like to queue at every restaurant which claims to be ‘the best’ or if they are from overseas. At 6pm yesterday, we arrived at Chatter Box located in K11 Musea when the hype has obviously died down.

The ambience for this casual dining restaurant that serves hawker food is considered upscale and over the top. So, we expected to pay a little bit more to justify their costs.

We were ushered to our seat in a seemingly empty restaurant and decided to try their signature dish, Mandarin Chicken Rice (HK$118). In addition, we also ordered their Char Koay Teow (basically flat rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, bloody cockles, Chinese lap cheong (sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives in a mix of light soy sauce originated from Penang, Malaysia) and Satay (chicken skewers with peanut sauce). We tried to order two drinks i.e. Soy Drink with glass jelly and a lemon barley drink but the waitress told us that they were sold out.

The chicken meat was dry, cold and had a bland taste. The texture was extremely tough and hard to chew. Unfortunately, the dark soy source, chilli sauce and ginger sauce did not help much. The chilli sauce and the ginger sauce that accompany Hainanese Chicken Rice are the major condiments that can either doom or spruce up the dish. Both failed to live up to our expectations. The vegetable soup along the dish was too salty. The rice was flavourful but it just lacked the oomph factor.

Chicken Satay (HK$98)

On the other hand, the satays or chicken skewers tasted not bad and the peanut sauce was pretty authentic and similar to the flavour commonly found at hawker stalls in South East Asia. However, we find the price of HK$98 for 6 skewers slightly on the high side as the servings were extremely small.

The next dish was a disaster i.e. Char Koay Teow (HK$98). The chef added a scallop in addition to a few shrimps. It seems like chefs in Hong Kong never learn to make this dish authentic as they always ignore the two ‘holy grail’ ingredients i.e. pork lard and light soy sauce. Instead, they stubbornly insist to use the dark soy sauce to distort the flavour of the dish. It was a far cry from the original dish you can normally savour in South East Asia.

Char Koay Teow at Chatterbox ($98).
This is the authentic Char Koay Teow from Penang, Malaysia that costs less than HK$20. Picture credit : VKeong.com.

Our verdict? If you happen to be at K11 Musea and you have a craving for Hainanese Chicken Rice, we suggest that you head down to the Food Court in the basement and try the Thai version instead for a fraction of the price.

Thai Chicken Rice at the basement of K11 Musea at HK$78.
Thai Chicken Rice.

Value for money : 2/5
Taste : 1/5
Ambience : 4/5
Service : 3/5

Location :

K11 Musea,

B1, B110, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

Tel : +852 – 23522173