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10 Best Hainan Chicken Dishes in Los Angeles

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Wed, May 1, 2013 at 7:51 AM

click to enlarge ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
Hainan chicken is a ubiquitous dish with roots in Wenchang City in Hainan, a Southeastern province in China. It has, however, spread well past its Chinese sphere of influence and is famous all throughout Southeast Asia -- particularly in Singapore, where it's the national dish.

Hainanese chicken over rice is an expert take on steamed free-range chicken with scallions, fresh ginger and sesame oil as the base. The long-grain rice, which is cooked with chicken broth, is just as aromatic as the chicken. It comes out with a glossy sheen and has a hint of peanut oil and shallots in the mix. As for the sauces, there are different variations depending on the restaurant. Most commonly is a dark, sweet soy sauce, a minced garlic with scallions dip and in some places, a garlic-soy sauce with chili oil.

Even if you're reading this in China or Singapore, for most of us the SGV -- also Hollywood and Downtown L.A. -- is a bit easier to get to, so we've rounded up our 10 local favorites. Turn the page.

click to enlarge CLARISSA WEI
  • Clarissa Wei
10. Yazmin:

Yazmin is a Malaysian restaurant that's been a Los Angeles staple for over 15 years. The dish is available two ways: steamed with bones or fried without bones. We prefer the former, but either way the dish comes with a helping of chicken-infused rice. The two complimentary dipping sauces: a chili-garlic based one with ginger, vinegar, sugar and a dark soy sauce. And while you're at it, don't forget to grab one of Yazmin's signature Malaysian roti canais. 27 E Main St., Alhambra; 626-308-2036.

click to enlarge TASTYGARDENUSA.COM
  • tastygardenusa.com
9. Tasty Garden:

Tasty Garden is a Hong Kong-owned café with a simple Hainanese chicken dish bursting with flavor. The chicken is served glistening with a sheen of garlic oil -- skin and bones all intact. To the side is a helping of minced garlic and scallions. Smear that sauce all over the chicken -- or better yet, over a bowl of plain white rice. 1212 S Baldwin Ave., Arcadia; 626-445-9388.

click to enlarge CLARISSA WEI
  • Clarissa Wei
8. Nha Trang:

Nha Trang may be a cult-favorite for their pho, but their Vietnamese spin on Hainan chicken over rice is just as solid. It's the same chicken they use for their famous pho ga, but note that it's is a weekend-only dish -- with an occasional appearance on their specials board during the week. The Hainan chicken is loaded over a scoop of well-oiled rice and served with a spicy fish sauce. 742 E Garvey Ave., Monterey Park; 626-288-8825.

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