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Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken: Super moist & tender soy sauce chicken chunks in Chinatown

If you clicked on this post merely to find the reasons behind the stall’s name, do not be ashamed. I had the same questions in my mind when I was initially given the option to head down to Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken in Chinatown.

I even did a double take at my colleague Aaron with hopes that he would be able to explain why.

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - storefront
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - storefront

Turns out, the business was named after Maria Cordero who was an actress cum television host in Hong Kong. What was the relationship between the boss of Maria Virgin Chicken and the famed star, you ask? They are apparently sworn sisters.

My colleague Chloe looked up the definition of “sworn sisters” and the name of the stall finally began to make sense.

What I tried at Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - chicken meat
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - chicken meat

As I approached the hawker stall, I saw numerous chickens glistening a dark brown hue. Already, I had high hopes for the taste of these chicken pieces.

The menu is kept rather concise in comparison to other chicken rice stalls. After all, the focus is on their soy sauce chicken. As an individual customer, I requested only one serving of Chicken Rice with Beansprouts (S$5.40).

My personal favourite chicken part is none other than the ji wei. This refers to the part extending from the thigh to the tail end of the chicken. Although some bones are present, the meat has a succulent and moist texture while retaining its juiciness and firmness. 

Coupled with that perfect deep braised chicken skin, I thoroughly enjoyed the chicken pieces that were served. The skin was gelatinous but not too oily. I loved the slight chewiness that it introduced to the dish. It was also the perfect thickness for a sinful indulgence!

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - spoonful of rice
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - spoonful of rice

The bed of oiled rice was drizzled with the stall’s signature soy sauce braise. I appreciated how it seasoned the rice with saltiness and made it flavourful. 

However, since the chicken also had a distinct soy sauce flavour, I would have preferred if an additional container of sauce was given on the side. This would’ve enabled me to add the amount of braise that I desired onto the rice as a personal preference.

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - beansprouts
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - beansprouts

The bean sprouts were a simple stir fry with a smoky charred fragrance. They were slightly oily but I liked the crunchy texture that complimented the oiled rice well . Flavour-wise, I believe there wasn’t much seasoning added and hence the vegetable tasted rather one-dimensional.

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - beancurd
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - beancurd

Whenever I buy chicken rice, I always top up for an additional braised egg. However, that item was unavailable at this stall and the Auntie recommended the Braised Tofu (S$1.60) instead. Since that was the only side dish apart from braised spare parts, I obliged. 

Thank the heavens for that recommendation — I would never have expected soft tofu cubes to pair so well with that braise. I was accustomed to the use of braised beancurd sold by other chicken rice stalls. 

This change was surprisingly pleasant and I enjoyed the jiggly wobbling cubes dunked in dark soy sauce. The taste of beancurd was also apparent but not overpowering, plus its silky smooth texture had me going back for more.

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - chilli dip
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - chilli dip

Round off the meal with some of their chilli dip. It certainly added the much needed spice factor to a dish heavily seasoned with soy sauce. 

Final thoughts

Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - entire pack
Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken - entire pack

A new key was unlocked after my visit to Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken — do not leave without a portion of that soft braised beancurd! 

While I stand by my comment that there isn’t much variation or side dish choices, the star of the show should be the soy sauce chicken. It certainly is one of the better renditions of the unique chicken rice style that I have grown to appreciate recently!

Expected damage: S$5.40 – S$7 per pax

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