I’m not sure I want to tell you where to get this amazing dish, as maybe I’ll never get a table again. But I’ll take a risk and get you onto it. This version of Hainan Chicken Rice is made by Kelvin at the Hobbit Cafe in North Bondi. It is truly one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten. And thank the powers that be – it’s gluten free. It’s available as a dinner special – so is not a permanent fixture on the menu. Read further below for more info on that.

hainan chicken rice

The Hobbit’s Hainan Chicken Rice – you can see the chook, rice, broth, greens and special chilli sauce about to be served to a lucky customer. Tell Sharon you’re gluten free – she will ensure the Tamari is available.

This dish’s origins are Chinese, and it’s associated with Hainanese, Malaysian, Thai and Singaporean cuisines. I’ve never actually cooked it myself – I’ve only eaten it. And loved it. So if you want to try it – get onto Google for a recipe – you’ll see there are many available.

hainan chicken rice

The dish starts with the whole chook being poached slowly in stock, and then the resulting stock is used to prepare the rice. It’s then served with a chilli and ginger dipping sauce, some greens, the stock (as a broth) and the rice. Beautiful.

sharon making roti

Sharon making the best Roti in town – these sadly are NOT gluten free. But she has whispered on occasion that gluten free roti may be on the cards one day. We can live in hope. I miss roti. When we arrive at the Hobbit with kids in tow, roti are the ultimate in dinner completion reward.

the window seat

A favourite place to sit – especially in winter.

bondi @ dusk

Walk out the door and cross the road. This is what you get. Not bad eh.

The Hobbit Cafe is right in the guts of Bondi Beach – on the north end, opposite the North Bondi surf club. It has one of the best views in town (you wander across the road and you’re in the water), with the friendliest owners you’ll ever meet. Sharon and Kelvin are both of Malaysian backgrounds, so their dinner menus feature an amazing, authentic mix of Malaysian cooking, along with more international meals. They started out as a breakfast and lunch cafe (sand and swimmers with no shoes are not out of place here), and in 2010, began cooking dinners – either eat in or takeaway (very handy on the way home from work).

Happily many of their meals are gluten free, and both Sharon and Kelvin are very aware of ingredient requirements. For instance, when my chicken and rice comes out, so does a bottle of Tamari instead of soy sauce.

So dinner runs from Tuesday – Friday from 6pm – 9pm. There are weekly specials available (NB: the Chicken Rice is a special so it’s not permanently on the menu), which can be smsed to you if you like – or you can just pop in. They do get very busy so if you want to ensure a seat (they seat 20 max) – you need to book.

The Hobbit Cafe
262 Campbell Parade, Bondi (opposite North Bondi Surf Club)
Tel: (02) 9365 4066

Opening hours:
Breakfast  - Monday to Sunday: 8am – 5pm
Lunch – Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 5pm
Dinner – Tuesday to Friday: 6pm – 9pm

BYO (no corkage – bonus).

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