Chin Chin: Resurrection of an old Hainanese Instituition

With damien, iwatch_ueat, liveyrdreams and holydrummer

Hainanese Chap Chye $6

For me, the hallmarks of Hainanese food are 1. Chicken Rice, 2. Pork Chops and 3. Chap Chye (Mixed Veg). Yes, of course the Hainanese have more dishes that they cook traditionally, but these are the three dishes with which I use to gauge standard of the restaurant.

So after tasting the food from Yet Con, we hopped across to road to another Hainanese Institution to compare the same three dishes. For those who are old enough to remember, Chin Chin has been around since 1934 and they used to occupy the corner coffeeshop along the main road. It started out by offering Toast and Kopi and only introduced food in 1959. Those that were fortunate enough to have tasted their Pork Chops never fail to recall the yummy Pork Chops in the good old days. Chin Chin closed its doors for almost 2 years when the owner migrated to Australia. But luckily for us they decided to return and reopened the stall at its present location about five years back.

I have been a regular at Chin Chin since its opening and I quite like the food. But I have to admit that I never had the good fortune to eat at the original stall, so I cannot tell you what it was like before. When I asked friends who had experienced the original Chin Chin, the story is about as predictable as who would win the next elections. "Oooh, the pork chops back then where so much better........". So poor guys like me can only imagine what it must have tasted like.

Well, when it comes to the Hainanese Chap Chye, I really don't care what people say. I think this is the best Hainanese Chap Chye I have every tasted. The sauce is so shiok! It has got lots of dried cuttlefish fish strips that gave the sauce that "I have just got to eat more rice" quality to it. Can it really get better than this? 4.5/5 Word of caution though, I have eaten there a few times, sometimes it is not that great. It really depends on who is cooking it that day!

The chicken rice is more Cantonese than Hainanese style which is what most younger Singaporeans are used to. The chicken is blanched in cold water after cooking which results in a smoother, crunchier skin texture and then showered with a fragrant sesame and soy sauce. I personally prefer it this way. The chicken here is quite nice and does not have the strong "farmy" flavour as Yet Con's. Not the best chicken in Singapore, but certainly a very good one. 4.25/5

Finally we come to the Pork Chops. They were very good but not what I imagine a legendary pork chop to be. The sauce was a straightforward tomato ketchup based sauce which I feel I cook myself at home. Nice to eat, but if you want die-die-must-try Pork Chops, I think you should head across the road to Yet Con. 4/5


A less traditional Hainanese Institution which has modified its cuisines to suit the trends. Whether it is good or bad is for each individual to decide. For me, I still come back here to eat the Chap Chye, Sliced Fish with bittergourd soup and yes, I will still order the Hainanese Pork Chops. Of course, the Pork Chops could be better, but there is just something about the whole place that draws me back regularly.

Chin Chin Eating House
19 Purvis Street
7am to 9pm daily


liverpool1965 said...

I like the hae cho there.. : )

ladyironchef said...

Nice blog! i enjoyed reading yr reviews

TAG said...

Alrite let me conduct a little history lesson on my beloved dish ..The Hainanese Pork Chop .. Back when I was a kid, when we were served this dish, there were a few essentials ingredients that accompanied together with the pork chop, 1) Sauteed Onions (lots of it) 2) Canned Green Peas 3) Deep Fried Chunky Potatoes Strips (Not Shoestring or crinkle cut fries)

What I noticed nowadays is that most restaurants serving this dish has ommited Fried Potates from the dish, I really not sure what's the reason (probably from a cost perspective and extra labour from peeling potatoes n frying them). Even another earlier blog entry on 22 Sep 06 under the topic Western Foo House Bar & Cafe. The Pork Chop they serve also uses shoestring fries for their ingredients.

Chin Chin pork chop standard is way different when it was at its old address, anyone who has tried it at the old address could vouch that its not the same anymore. Now I noticed pork chop at chin chin are fried en mass before hand and left at the side, back then pork chop was fried only when order was made (sometimes the pork chop is even hotter than the gravy poured over it .. last time young, very greedy mouth). Even putting the 2 photos side by side of Yet Con and Chin Chin, I bet with you all most would choose Yet Con as the colour and presentation win hands down !

Anonymous said...

The original version of porkchops which my grandma used to make are breaded with crushed soda crackers crumbs. The ones we are getting are those pre-made tempura breadcrumbs. Nothing beats the real McCoy I guess.

HaPPi MuMMi said...

I agree with Tag - Chin Chin Pork shop is different after the move.

What I heard was the owner migrated to live with his child oversea.

That's why I was surprise to see Chin Chin at the new location.

Anyway, I still prefer the old chin chin..

sojourner said...

good review of my frequent eating place. used to eat here a few times a week during lunch!

Anonymous said...

It happens that my grandmother knows the owner of The old Chin Chin (how small hainanese community can be). She told her that the place was rent for 500 dollars for almost 40yrs from an Israeli.

Apparently the guy (or maybe his family) forgotten about his investment until 40yrs later. He sold the place and evacuated the Chin Chin Restaurant. Thus they are decided to close for good.

The rest of the story was unknown to me coz my grandma passed away before they reopened.

liveyrdream said...

Really glad to be part of the makan khakis that day...

Let's talk about the chap chye... When ieat mentioned he wanted to do a comparison for chap chye, in my mind I was thinking: "Chap Chye is Chap Chye. What's so special? All taste about the same to me?"

But I was all wrong after having tasted Chin Chin Hainanese Chap Chye. This is the first time I come across a chap chye with dried cuttlefish! It was a real nice surprise. It tasted really shiok! And in my heart I was telling myself that I have to bring my husband to try it ....

So I went the 2nd time yesterday ( this time with my husband) ... the Hainanese Chap Chye didn't disappoint us. It's still shiok... though I feel very thristy after that... find it's slightly overly salty or that they put a lot of MSG inside! My husband says it's nice, it must be nice because he always say " ok lah" and rarely "nice".

Conclusion: The Hainanese chap chye is really worth eating.... it's only $5.... Cheaper than our coffee shop zhi cha chap chye. Just a word of advice, when ordering, pls remember to say "hainanese" Chap chye, because I realised they have the normal chap chye too.

georginapng said...

I usually lunch at Chin Chin thru 2006-2009 & yeah, the pork chop at Yet-Con is much better. Chin-chin's mee goreng is still my favourite dish. They went to australia then came back & re-opened. Noticed the retro cashier's counter? I still go there to satisfy my mee goreng cravings, yummy yummy.


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