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A Hainanese Chicken Rice Shop Debuts in Somerville’s Union Square

Hen Chicken Rice is now open in the heart of the square, specializing in one dish

overhead view of a compostable takeout container of crispy chicken slices over rice, with cucumber and cilantro garnish and a plastic cup of a sweet chile sauce
Hen Chicken Rice’s crispy option (khao man gai tod)
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Hen Chicken Rice quietly took the paper off its windows over the long weekend at 24 Union Sq., Somerville, bringing Hainanese chicken rice — a popular dish throughout Southeast Asia — to Union Square. (Today, October 13, is more of an official opening, per the restaurant’s social media.) The team behind Hen Chicken Rice is Thai; the dish is called khao man gai in Thailand, but variations can also be found in Singapore, Malaysia, and beyond.

In true Thai street food fashion, the restaurant is zeroing in on this one dish: It’s available in several forms, but that’s it. Choose from boiled, crispy, or spicy and crispy boneless chicken, or a combination of boiled and crispy, served over ginger rice. (There’s a “lean” option that pairs the boiled chicken with brown rice, too.) As the restaurant got up and running this past weekend, the dish was served with a sweet chile sauce, but peanut and sweet soy sauces will reportedly be available as well. A warming chicken and daikon broth also comes on the side.

The rest of the menu? Extra chicken, rice, or soup. There’s also bottled water and green tea, as well as Coke, the best brand of coconut water (Harmless Harvest), and Thai iced tea.

Chef Pong Kansab is an alum of Smoke Shop, Blue Ginger, Grill 23, and several other local restaurants, as Hen’s marketing manager, Annie Natnicha Suwimol, previously told Eater.

While the restaurant space — previously a Chinese takeout joint, Red House — can fit a handful of seats, the emphasis is takeout and delivery (order online or call 617-764-1285 or 617-764-1289), using compostable packaging. Lunch and dinner are available daily.

While opening mid-pandemic is undoubtedly a challenge, a restaurant optimized for takeout and delivery has a leg up. Plus, Bostonians were sad to see the area’s other dedicated chicken rice shop, Chic Chick in Allston, close earlier this month, so the void has happily been quickly filled.

Hen Chicken Rice amps up a corner of Union Square already known for chicken: Peruvian charcoal chicken restaurant Machu Chicken is right next door (currently offering takeout and delivery via its larger sibling around the corner, Machu Picchu).

Hen Chicken Rice Coverage on Eater [EBOS]

Hen Chicken Rice

24 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 764-1285 Visit Website