Ben Yeo's passion for local food leads to chicken rice burger
Making the chicken rice burger was not easy, said local actor Ben Yeo.
The Crispy Hainanese Chicken Burger is not just McDonald's take on the famous Hainanese chicken rice, it is also a love child of local cuisine and Western fast food.
Mr Yeo, the dish's creator, told The New Paper: "I wanted to make it as close to our chicken rice as possible, but it cannot be the same thing.
"A fusion should take the best of both worlds - the taste of Hainanese chicken rice but still unmistakably a burger."
Mr Yeo, who is also a restaurateur, collaborated with McDonald's Singapore's research and development team for nine months to create the burger, which features a crispy chicken patty between semolina buns, complemented by a hint of ginger sauce, garlic chilli sauce and dark sweet sauce.
The 43-year-old let on that they had also considered local dishes such as laksa and fish head curry to create a local-inspired product for National Day this year.
The fast-food chain had previously launched a burger inspired by Malay dish nasi lemak in 2017. It made a return in 2019.
Explaining the creation process behind the latest collaboration, Mr Yeo said: "We tried many different things with this burger, from testing different chicken patties McDonald's have, to finding the perfect chilli sauce - I think a lot of people did not realise that it was the McDonald's garlic chilli sauce - to achieve the best taste and texture."
Mr Yeo added that one of his "crazy" ideas McDonald's accepted was the addition of the dark sweet sauce in a separate packet, which came from the way he eats chicken rice.
He dips the chicken into the ginger paste, chilli and dark sweet sauce without mixing to taste the layers of flavour.
He said: "I brought the dark sweet sauce to a tasting session, drizzled it on the burger and asked them to taste, and it turned out they all liked the interesting flavour and the idea of drizzling the sauce on later."
His online chee cheong fun business, Singapore Chee Cheong Fun, also sells chee cheong fun packets that include various sauces for consumers to add to their liking.
Launched in August last year, it is one of his ventures into the food and beverage industry.
The father of two boys, nine and 12, also runs SG Umami, an izakaya-style stall in an industrial canteen in Kallang that sells fusion prawn noodles and rice bowls in the day and transforms into a casual bar offering small plates at night.
Describing the menu as Japanese-Western-local fusion, Mr Yeo, an alumnus of the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre, emphasised his love is for local food, which is behind many of his creations.
"I put 'Singapore' in front of all my brands because I love my country, the culture, and of course the food. I hope that I can share that love with more (people) through my food," he added.