318 Spadina Ave., in Toronto, used to be the home of Lucky Red, an Asian fusion bar owned by the same founders as Banh Mi Boys. This place was truly dear to my heart, as I frequented it, especially for their Nacho Koreano: flattened, deep-fried wontons topped with kimchi, mayo, shredded cheese, and green onion. When I found them closed near the end of the summer, it was quite devastating. I enjoyed the unique flavours and the fusion concept so much. For instance, bao buns were transformed into burger buns, with ingredients inside that unified Eastern and Western cultures. Overall, it was a welcoming place with a very friendly waitstaff that you could easily befriend. Alas, what once used to be home to Lucky Red, is now the new home of Jackpot Chicken Rice.

Janeththa Rajendran

Drawing from Malaysian and Singaporean influences and Hainanese cuisine, Jackpot Chicken Rice serves you, as given in its namesake, Hainanese chicken rice.  It's also the first of its kind in Toronto to wholly dedicate itself to the Hainanese chicken rice. The chicken rice dish usually consists of chicken which is poached, and a rice that is simmered in the chicken broth of the poached chicken.

Upon entering the restaurant, one is invited by a bright mural and upbeat waitstaff. There are pops of colour everywhere, from the chopsticks that look like grass sprouting out of the chopstick holders, and the cerulean blue glasses placed on each table. Once we were seated, we looked at the menu. People say menus with few items usually means the restaurant is able to execute its dishes and craft well. People were right, as there were four main dish options, three appetizers, one dessert option, and a choice of some extra sides.

The Jackpot Chicken Rice

Janeththa Rajendran

We ordered the Jackpot Chicken Rice ($13.75) as our main, which contained boneless poached chicken on a bed of chicken rice, served alongside ginger-scallion and chilli sauces, with a bowl of winter melon soup too. You also get the choice of picking the type of skin you want with your chicken, whether it be skinless, soft skin, or even crispy. Overall, the chicken rice was full of flavour, and the various sauces really helped enhance the flavour experience of the poached chicken. The soup had a very light chicken broth, but you could taste a hint of the winter melon.

We also ordered a side of greens, which was bok choy in a fish sauce ($4), and the coconut and shrimp chips served with a peanut sauce ($4.50) as our appetizer. The peanut sauce is reminiscent of my experience with Malaysian cuisine, and the peanut sauce that usually accompanies satay sticks.

What really stole the show for the appetizers somehow didn’t cost a thing. Due to our longer than expected wait for the Jackpot Chicken Rice main dish, the wait staff brought over another appetizer to us, free of charge. Their kindness and generosity cannot go unnoticed, as well as the fusion of flavours in the Kaffir Broccoli Tempura ($5.50). A favourite of the waitstaff, the dish was something I had never experienced before. Broccoli in tempura coating was an interesting combination, however, the broccoli had a zestiness that came from the kaffir limes it was bathed in, and to add to the mixture of textures and flavours, there was a light layer of mayonnaise which was drizzled on top. I recommend this dish being eaten straight away for the best impact.

Overall, I had a very positive experience at Jackpot Chicken Rice, during their second week of business. There was great care for the customers there, and the food proportions were generous. Being the only restaurant in Toronto dedicated to Hainanese chicken rice, Jackpot really hits the ball. Although I may miss Lucky Red, I think Jackpot Chicken Rice has found a great new home, and a dedicated customer in me.