Nan Xiang began her humble beginnings in the chicken rice business in Balestier Hawker Centre – Whampoa in November 1986. Subsequently, we set up our casual restaurant in Square 2, Novena in May 2007 which we offer our signature Chicken Rice Dish with our rice balls concept and also a variety of our local signature cuisines, snacks and pastries for our customers. It has always been our continued passion and efforts to develop our chicken rice and local cuisines and its presentation for our today’s increasingly affluent customers.
Being physically present in the running of our casual restaurant in Square 2, we have always ensured that our quality of food and its ingredients are constantly maintained at high standards for our customers.
The Hainanese Chicken Rice Dish was evolved through an influx of the Hainanese immigrants from Hainan Island in China to Singapore in the early days of the 1940s and the 1950s. Traditionally, the chicken was poached until the meat was just succulent and cooked. The rich flavour of the stock from the boiled chicken and also with the added chicken bones which were used to cook the rice into flavoured chicken rice.
The early version of the Hainanese chicken rice balls or ‘bui jin’ as being known in the Hainanese dialect was painstakingly shaped into rice balls with bare hands from the just cooked and piping hot flavoured chicken rice that was just out of the pot. It has to be done immediately so that the rice balls could be firmly molded and tight.
The idea of the rice balls were originally created by the Hainanese in Hainan Island as it was easier to carry the rice balls for their annual family pilgrimage at the hills for their consumptions as well as carrying their offerings to the ancestors in their graves during the Ching Ming festival.
Also, in the early days of Singapore, the chicken rice travelling peddler would often made the flavoured chicken rice into rice balls for easy serving of rice balls to customers instead of serving rice in the bowls and plates. It was to reduce their load of carrying their wares and also to be done away with plates and bowls and thus, facilitated their easy movements from place to place to hawker their food.
In today’s context, the process of shaping the rice balls is much less painstakingly done as we, chicken rice operators would usually wear 2 to 3 layers of cotton gloves covered with another layer of plastic gloves to our hands so as to lessen the pain from the steaming hot chicken rice.
The symbolic significance of the roundness of the rice balls represents the coming together and closeness of the family members in the Hainanese community.