The Place When I think of ‘atas’ chicken rice, Chatterbox is the first restaurant to strike my mind. Closed since last year for a major overhaul, the institutional chicken rice brand will reopen on 14 March 2022 in the new Hilton Singapore Orchard (previously Mandarin Orchard). The new space of Chatterbox is welcoming, where the space exudes a homely dining vibe from its wooden furnishing and indoor plants.
I also like that there are different pockets of the space which introduce more dining privacy, and the best seats for dinner is the section right at the back of the restaurant where you can still get a good dose of natural light in the late afternoon.
The Food It has been 51 years since Chatterbox opened in 1971, and the restaurant is now helmed by Executive Chef Liew Tian Heong who has decades of experience under his belt at Chatterbox. The revamped menu is a mix of starters, meat, seafood and vegetable courses, where my meal started with the Mackerel & Crab Otah-Otah (S$15). Go for this if you love Otah, as mackerel fish paste with snow crab claw meat is very fresh and it is seasoned with a homemade spice mix, which is not too spicy for a start.
There are also ‘zi char’ inspired dishes, like the Lemon Butter Tiger Prawns (S$25) I had. This is one of my favourite dishes, as the twice-fried shelled tiger prawns works very well with the lemon butter sauce. It almost looks and tastes like salted egg sauce, just that it is not cloying at all.
Another favourite of mine is the Sea Perch with Burnt Green Chilli (S$35). That green chilli sauce is the highlight here, and contrary to its name, it is not that spicy. Lovely texture for the fish as well, which spots a flavourful and buttery taste.
Needless to say, you can’t be at Chatterbox without having the Mandarin Chicken Rice (S$25 for Individual Set | S$38 for Half Chicken | S$72 for Whole Chicken).
Using only chickens that weigh around 2kg each, you can expect a very tender chicken meat along with a fragrant chicken rice cooked with specially-procured aged Jasmine rice and along with chicken fat, shallots and pandan leaves.
It was also my first time trying the Lobster Laksa (S$34), which happens to be one of the earliest dishes on Chatterbox’s menu. You get a really rich and flavourful gravy which is simmered with prawn stock. Each bowl is topped with a whole Boston lobster claw, ‘tau pok’, fish cake slices, bean sprouts, quails’ eggs and laksa leaves. It is a good bowl of laksa, though pricey. It would be great if the lobster option is an add-on instead.
Other dishes I had were the Wok-fried Sambal Wing Beans (S$8) which is quite ‘shiok’ with the rempah; and the Seafood Hokkien Mee (S$25).
Dessert options include the likes of Chatterbox’s Signature Coconut Ice Cream (S$15) which has been on the menu since its opening – made with fresh coconut milk, coconut flesh and dessicated coconut and served in a coconut husk.
For drinks, there is the Chatterbox Bar which features a list of cocktails and mocktails. One of the signature cocktails is the Chatterbox’s Punch (S$17), an easy-drinking 21-days vanilla, cinnamon, lemon, banana-infused gin served with house tonic.
Rants Be prepared to splurge on hawker dishes we are accustomed to having in Singapore, though the dining ambience and quality of ingredients used are vastly different too.
Will I Return Again? One of the most comfortable spots in town to enjoy a good plate of chicken rice and Singaporean dishes, the newly revamped Chatterbox is worth dropping by, be it for family meals or hosting foreign friends.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
333 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6831 6291
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am to 2:30pm; 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Ranted by The Ranter