Hello everyone! When I was a kid, one of my favourite dishes I didn’t get to eat too often was Hainanese Chicken [and] rice (pronounced in Cantonese as Hoi-Nam Gai Fan.) My parents owned a Canadian-Chinese restaurant in downtown Brampton (I’m talking about the typical sweet and sour chicken balls and such) and a few of our other family friends also owned restaurants. One of them owned a food court restaurant at a Chinese mall in Mississauga and every now and then, they would feature Hainanese Chicken Rice. I still remember loving that strong almost briney flavour of the chicken as well as the seasoned rice and the accompanying soup. Years passed and they eventually sold their business and moved back to China, leaving me (and other GTA-ers) without this amazing dish. I had not eaten this since my early pre-teen years, so imagine my surprise and delight when I found out that the team from Patois was opening up Jackpot Chicken Rice that features – you guessed it – Hainanese Chicken Rice.I went in for dinner with my friend Laura last Friday and was thrilled to do so. It’s in the heart of Chinatown and I was afraid it would be hard to find, but it’s actually right beside a building that’s under renovation/construction just a few doors north of Dundas on Spadina. As soon as I saw the sign, I became even more excited.One word to describe the interior: COLOURFUL! The lanterns are actually colanders attached together around a light, and that mural is absolutely gorgeous.I love the traditional Chinese art with the vibrant colours. Seating is cozy (we were only about an inch from the next table) and they also have communal tables. Some of them have this kitschy and charming floral pattern. We decided to order the Kafir Broccoli Tempura ($5) which was served with a lemon kewpie mayo and cilantro and lime leaves. The cilantro and lime kept this dish bright and fresh tasting to balance the richness of the mayo. The broccoli was crispy therefore making this an amazing appetizer (or side!)But really, you need to try the signature dish and the namesake – the Jackpot Chicken Rice ($13.75.) I ordered it with the traditional boiled skin with an extra order of crispy skin on the side ($2) and because I’d seen it on Instagram – I opted to add on a piece of foie gras ($12) because hey – go big or go home! I had never had foie gras before (at least a piece of it like this) and it was absolutely indulgent. Very nicely seared and it was a nice addition, however I wouldn’t say it’s a must have. The extra piece of crispy chicken skin though? OH YEAH. The actual Hainanese chicken itself? DELICIOUS. It totally brought back memories of my childhood, especially when I mixed in the ginger-scallion oil. The rice is cooked in scmaltz (chicken fat) and although had a nice texture and tasted ok…it was a touch on the bland side (but I suppose I could’ve just mixed the ginger-scallion oil in it.) The winter melon soup was a comforting start to the main course and also reminded me of the soups my grandma and mom used to make.Seriously – if your only exposure to Chinese food has been fried rice and chow mein, you need to come here and experience some real Chinese food. I absolutely cannot wait to come back!
Jackpot Chicken Rice is located at 318 Spadina Ave in Toronto. You can check them out online at http://www.jackpotchickenrice.com (under construction) and you can also follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @eatjackpot.