Tar Pau Nation: Easy, healthy meals with herbal chicken from Pokpok Keh

The Original Pink Salt Chicken Bento.
The Original Pink Salt Chicken Bento.ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

Herbal chicken is one dish that can be chilled or frozen with little loss in quality when reheated. So I knew I wouldn't go very wrong with the food from Pokpok Keh, an eatery in Yio Chu Kang Road that specialises in the dish for delivery.

Hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken is wrapped in paper and aluminium foil with Chinese herbs and baked till tender. There are variations such as Original Dang Gui Pink Salt Chicken ($27) and Ginseng Pink Salt Chicken ($29).

If you do not like the medicinal smell of herbs, there is also BKT Pink Salt Chicken ($27), which is cooked with bak kut teh spices like white peppercorn and garlic clove. You can have them delivered warm and ready to eat, or frozen.

For single diners who may not be able to finish a whole chicken, the bentos ($9.90 each) work better. They comprise a chicken leg, a cucumber or mesclun salad, and rice. For another $1, you get an ajitama or seasoned egg too.

I picked the Original Pink Salt Chicken Bento to see what the basic flavour tastes like. It was good, with a mild herbal flavour that enhanced rather than dominated the meat. I couldn't make out what was special about the pink salt though.

The chicken leg is wrapped in paper and foil so if you need it really hot, pop the unopened parcel in an oven or steamer. I just wish there was more broth in the dish for me to spoon onto the rice.

The cucumber salad didn't make much of an impression, though it provided the meal with variety and fibre. But I loved the garlicky and vinegary chilli sauce, which tickled the palate without burning it. The chicken was delicious enough not to need it, but the chilli really perked up everything else, including the ajitama egg which could do with a stronger marinade.

It's nonetheless a good idea to add the egg because, chances are, the basic bento is not enough to fill you up. And I liked the almost-soft yolk and smooth white.

Pokpok Keh also sells the chicken legs frozen ($49.90 for six) with three flavours to choose from - original dang gui, ginseng and bak kut teh - and you can mix and match them. They come in very handy if you need a last-minute extra dish for your meals and do not take up much space in the freezer. Also, you get free delivery for orders of $49 and above.

I tried the bak kut teh one and it was packed with peppercorns. But if you don't bite into them, the dish is not very fiery. Still, I enjoyed chewing on a couple once in a while to release their heat. And the soft cloves of garlic were mild and sweet, so I ate up every one.

PokPok Keh

Where: 9 Yio Chu Kang Road 01-14
To order: Go to pokpokkeh.com. There is no minimum order.
Delivery fee: $10 for orders below $25; $5 for orders between $25 and $48; free for orders of $49 and more. There is a surcharge for certain areas, including in central business district and Sentosa.
3.5 stars out of 5