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December 8, 2019

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Hainanese special doesn’t leave you feeling blue

HIDDEN among a few food concepts inside the newly modified 1788 Plaza near Jing’an Temple, Asianplus stands out with its colorful graphics indicating clearly what they offer — Hainanese chicken rice.

Before this more dedicated concept, the original Asianplus was opened in 2016 as a food-stop concept serving all sorts of Southeast Asian dishes. It closed in 2017 due to venue concept changes by the landlord and reopened just a month ago with a focused offering of Hainanese chicken rice.

Heather Mahi, partner of Asianplus and a Malaysian native, said Hainanese chicken rice was always the old venue’s most popular dish.

“Everyone loved our choice of chicken, our precise cooking style, our very yummy chicken rice (a recipe concocted after years of personally loving chicken rice), and also our homemade chili sauce (a recipe of Heather’s mother), and our ginger and spring onion sauce,” she said. “When we decided to reopen Asianplus, we thought why not focus on the one thing we’re good at, and dedicate our whole operations to it? The blue rice, our unique chicken rice, came about when we were playing around with more recipes and decided to try using the butterfly pea flower that colors so much rice and dessert dishes in many Southeast Asian countries.”

The team realized that no one in the world had ever made blue chicken rice before. The effect was delicious and so well received by friends and family that they decided to make it their signature dish.

“Meanwhile, the sound of Hainan Jifan (Haianese chicken rice in Chinese pronunciation) was a cute play on words that we couldn’t resist,” she said.

A Southeast Asian staple, Hainanese chicken rice stands for comfort and flavor. Indeed, it was not the well-cooked chicken meat that left a strong impression, it was the blue rice. Butterfly pea flower in addition to their chicken rice ingredients gave a subtle aromatic flair. Asianplus wants to offer customers a little more variety of rice and noodles to eat with their Hainanese chicken.

“Just like in Malaysia, we eat Hainanese chicken with plain laksa and mixed noodles too in addition to traditional chicken rice,” Mahi said.

Accompanying plates include braised items such as pork knuckle, pork intestines and chicken feet. Unlike the local version, the braised items here integrate a variety of Southeast Asian herbs and spices, thus bolder flavors.

For the colder months, they are soon offering additional options — Hainanese chicken in Sichuan-style sauce and chicken in curry sauce.

Opening hours: 11am-2pm, 5pm-9pm
Tel: 5266-6993
Address: B1-15, 1788 Plaza, 1818 Nanjing Rd W.
Average price: 50 yuan


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