When opening a new restaurant in 2017, especially a casual one, the first thought must always be: how well does this deliver? That seems to be the intention behind Taishi Hainan Chicken, which sits tucked into a strip mall corner on the intersection of Torrance Blvd and Prospect in Redondo Beach. Opened on July 7, 2017, the place has already garnered a hefty number of positive reviews online.
Stepping inside, the former Korean bento spot couldnl’t feel more barren. There’s a TV blaring inside while a drink station and fridge sits to the left. Up at the counter, the menu reveals just two main dishes: Hainan chicken served steamed or fried, plus some sides like dumplings or boba milk tea. The simplicity of the operation reveals that Taishi is truly optimized for delivery services: Doordash and Eat24 are both options while they willingly pack to-go orders in Ubereats bags.
Each $12 chicken order is enormous, weighing in at around three pounds including the rice and sauces. Hainan chicken is one of those plates that lean on technique and ingredient quality because it’s so simple. Here, the rice is solid, if a tad mealy. Imbued with chicken fat and broth, it’s a bit shy of the excellent rice at Side Chick. The chicken itself is generously portioned, with both white and dark meat piled high inside the brown paper boxes. It’s like they know most diners won’t finish the portion in one sitting and will want to take the rest home.
So, how does the Hainan chicken compare to the best? It’s not Side Chick, but it’s certainly better than an average khao man gai. If there’s a subtle difference between classic Singaporean-style Hainan chicken and rice to khao man gai, the Thai name for this dish, it’s that the latter tends to be purer and less unctuous, with an emphasis on sauce. The chicken meat starts off pretty moist but gets drier as the meal progresses. It’ll deliver just fine, but most recipients will end up with a drier set of chicken meat.
The two sauces they provide are excellent: the first is a sweeter, thicker soy glaze while the larger container is a spicy, gingery soy sauce that’s better over the rice. Both chicken orders come with a clean broth to help everything go down. The crispy fried dumplings cost at $4 an order, though anyone checking in on Yelp these days can get them gratis with an order.
Founded by a Thai husband and wife who have owned restaurants for thirty years in the L.A. area (they still own a Thai restaurant in Riverside of all places), they used to own a Thai restaurant down in Redondo Beach closer to the ocean before jumping back into the South Bay restaurant game. Instead of a 100 item menu with curries, noodles, and more, this Thai couple is betting that simple chicken and rice will win out on the delivery and fast-casual front.
Taishi Hainan Chicken serves 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
1000 Torrance Blvd Suite B, Redondo Beach, CA