After reading Brandon Watson’s review of NaiNai
, where he says “there’s not much to Hainan chicken and rice,” [Food, March 11] it finally confirmed to me that he is a complete and pretentious moron.
Hainan chicken and rice is the type of dish that cooks devote their life to perfecting, and one that can start wars between critics, or between fans of opposing venues. The reason that hardly anybody does the dish here is because it is very difficult and time consuming to make properly (plus the fact that few in ATX know what it is, including Brandon). A venue that makes it rarely offers any other dishes on the menu. If they do it right, it’s all they can do to keep up with the business.
Brandon makes no mention at all about the amount of chicken fat in the rice, which is one of the main qualities of the dish. It reminded me of that time the food writer from the Statesman
did a huge article on pies at Blue Bonnet in Marble Falls and never mentioned the word “crust” in the entire article. Another hallmark is the degree of complexity of the fermented spicy sauce, which he barely glosses over.
The chicken should be thin sliced, juicy, and meltingly tender, and more like a confit poached in schmaltz than conventional poached chicken. The accompanying photo clearly shows Sysco frozen cubed chicken breast, which no respectable Hainan chicken and rice chef would ever allow in their kitchen. That kid’s Singaporean granny, Mimi, has turned in her grave … I hope.
Brandon should probably go eat the dish at Thai Kun at the Domain to get a better feel what it should taste like; they are coming close to a true Hainan chicken and rice (khao man gai
in Thai). But if there is a review of it, you guys should probably get someone to write it who knows what the hell they are talking about.
Brandon should stick to his typical trendy New American crap which he reviews and raves about weekly. This is insulting.
[Editor's note: Mick Vann is a former contributor to the Austin Chronicle Food section.]
[Food Editor Brandon Watson responds: I wish that Mr. Vann would have started a conversation instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks. There are very few things that I enjoy more than talking about food to smart people. And I always feel that I have room to learn. I understand that there is passion behind what we eat, but personal attacks erode community – and that's something that matters far more to me than getting it "right."]