Fiie’s Cafe: Crispy chicken rice with succulent flesh and aromatic rice to queue for at Lucky Plaza
Let’s make things clear from the get-go: I came to Fiie’s Cafe (formerly known as As-Shifaa Cafe) fully expecting some of the nasty things I read about them in some reviews to be true. From the table slamming, staredown duels and eye-roll skirmishes, I was also half expecting a film crew to be present a la Hell’s Kitchen. The little cafe (and I meant that literally) is located on the 6th floor of Lucky Plaza.
When I was within viewing distance of the cafe, I was unfortunately caught in something more abhorrent than what was mentioned in the negative reviews. It was the dreaded winding queues that only seemed to move an inch after every 5 minutes, despite lunch being a couple of hours ago.
Whilst queuing, I could see why the owner was stern with seat hoggers and chope-ers. There were only around 16 seats available at one time, which was probably pushing the max capacity of the room-sized cafe.
And the big hoo-ha over the seating system? You order, receive your food and then get told where to seat, simple as that. I even saw them accommodating a group of 6 diners.
The only part that was vaguely true was the solemn look on the owner’s face, but even that perception was shattered by the grins he had during the occasional joke with other staff.
What I tried at Fiie’s Cafe
The menu mimics the compact nature of the environment, with only the Combo (S$9) being available. It includes chicken rice, a canned drink and two choices of sides from Sambal Quail Eggs, Begedil, Chicken Liver, Gizzard and a Boiled Egg.
I did see some customers having only the Chicken Rice (S$6) though the option wasn’t apparent at the stall and I had to verify it online. I had the Combo with Gizzard and Boiled Egg as those were the only sides left.
I wisely sat at my allocated spot and was accompanied by an inadvertent eating partner beside me.
No, it’s not nasi ayam penyat, it’s just good ol’ fried chicken leaning on a bed of fragrant rice infused with strong permeations of ginger. Accompanying it was 3 pieces of gizzard, all dolled up in dry sambal, ready to strike heat to any tongue and a faultless boiled egg.
I couldn’t help myself and dug into the chicken first. Like breaking into a window, the crispy skin was crunching at every prying effort from my fork and spoon combo. I was treated to still-moist chicken flesh and satisfying crackling from the fried bits at every chew.
It tasted really similar to hawker stall fried chicken, but with a much stronger flavour. Plus, since they batter the chicken individually, it created a crispiness that’s tenfold from whatever the former could muster. This wasn’t the usual turmeric and salt affair that you’d often get in Malay stalls.
The experience only got better with the addition of rice. It tasted like any good chicken rice, with hints of ginger as well as lemongrass completing the entire chicken rice experience. It was also well-cooked and not overly oily.
Despite being orthodox, the chicken broth once again shows why it’s probably the most underrated part of chicken rice. Even when it probably consists largely of chicken stock, that additional chickeny-ness added a refreshing aspect to both the rice and chicken with its bold flavours and a smidgen of herbiness.
Cutting through the comforting flavours of the chicken rice were the gizzards. It was unabashedly spicy and savoury, with no room for sweetness— just the way I liked my sambal. The gizzards were cooked well too; it was still characteristically chewy but most of the unpleasant iron-like taste was absent.
Any slight hint of it was engulfed by the deep red-hot sambal.
Whilst my ordering experience was seamless, I did find it slightly uncomfortable to eat mainly due to the spatial constraints. I had an unwanted eating buddy across me and our plates were just millimetres from one another. Might be a good scene for a cheesy Valentine’s Day flick but super awkward in real life.
I also was under the constant impression that I had to eat doubly fast, as the queues were only piling up. Also, I had to contend with the stares from 8 really hungry patrons as they waited and maybe even the owner — thankfully my back was facing him.
Personally, I think it’s a shame that people are more aware of the negative reputation surrounding Fiie’s Cafe rather than its chicken rice (which is great by the way). I guess we really do live in a society like that.
My short lunch there has shown that when everyone is following the reasonable demands from the owner, it is a relatively smooth experience barring the tight eating environment, but hey, I guess that’s part of the experience.
There’s no doubt I’ll be back, but maybe after the crowd has had their fill of chicken rice drama or lack of it.
Expected damage: S$6 – S$9 per pax
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