When I was studying at Singapore Polytechnic, one of the most frequently visited store was the Tenderfresh 可爱鸡 store at the Clementi Centre. Over the years the group has expanded and the latest is this place to lepak in Woodlands.
Tenderfresh or 可爱鸡 (which is actually cute chicken in Mandarin) has over 150 brand stores and subsidiaries islandwide selling chicken. The brand can mostly be found in the hawker centres and food courts. It began in the 1980s in the former Whitley Road Food Centre by Jimmy Soh, who is now the Group Managing Director. He made his name for his homemade charcoal barbecued spring chickens and chicken wings. He also made some mean fried chicken. From there, the Tenderfresh empire grew because of really value-for-money western food.
Let’s do a comparison of 1986 prices – KFC 3 piece meal with coleslaw, bun and drink $6.90, Tenderfresh fried half-chicken with rice, slaws and baked beans $3.50. And if you were a student like me, you would most likely get extra rice. A really full and satisfying meal.
A Brand New Concept
Tenderfresh has come a long way from the hawker in Whitley or the store in Clementi. The latest concept store in Woodlands is showcased as a place to “lepak” (meaning chillax in Malay). Open concept, tuck shop style tables and stools, and sofas as well.
The mood is like a neighbourhood bistro with bright lights and Nordic decor.
When I saw the presentation of the food, I was already salivating and looking forward to my order.
I remembered their crispy skin chicken chop was much bigger or thicker than this pathetic slab of chicken. The brown sauce did not travel well and turned into water. French toast? It was like a poorly toasted piece of bread.
The chicken wings that built the empire – roasted chicken wings are not longer roasted over charcoal fire. Instead they are roasted in industrial ovens and tasted just like any others. Quite disappointed because the marinade has not permeated through the chicken wings and missing the charcoal fire taste.
The fried spring chicken has not disappoint after all these years. Still crispy and hot despite travelling the distance back home. The flesh is moist and tender, and I finished half the chicken with gusto. The coleslaws was the same sweet taste I remembered well.
Nobody can make shoestring fries better than McD. Tenderfresh has failed in this department too. I regretted not getting the rice to see if old memories would flood back.
My recommendation – stick to the fried chicken. Everything else has dropped in standard.
Tenderfresh Makcik Tuckshop
Mega@Woodlands, 39 Woodlands Close #01-68, Singapore 737856
Date Visited : Nov 2019