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Restaurant Labyrinth Serves Up Chicken Rice, with No Rice

Chef Han Li Guang distils a national dish into its flavour profile.

The man who’s turning Singapore culinary staples on its head has done it again. After melding chilli crab with ice cream and chendol with xiao long bao, Han Li Guang, chef-owner of Restaurant Labyrinth, has stripped chicken rice of both chicken and rice to create an avant-garde interpretation of the dish.

(RELATED: Han was also on our 2016 list of F&B movers and shakers.)

“The chicken in chicken rice is often flavoured by the accompanying sauces, and has no taste on its own. Same goes for the rice,” says Han. The 31-year-old was named Chef to Watch by The Peak Selections: Gourmet & Travel earlier this year.

What’s key is the stock. Han uses parts of the bird with the most cartilage, simmering these over several hours to get a rich, gelatinous stock. He then emulsifies the thick broth and leaves it to set.

The result: a “tofu” square perfumed with notes of ginger. Han’s essence of chicken rice is no tonic for purists.

But remember this: Josep Roca from famed El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, once served a Pedro Ximenez stripped of alcohol, using only an eau-de-vie made from the intense wine that he called “its body and soul”. The restaurant took home top spot at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year.

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