Hainanese curry rice is pretty common in Singapore, but not so much in Malaysia (by the way, it definitely did not originate from Hainan in China). I don’t recall ever seeing Hainanese curry rice in KL, but apparently you can find them as far north of Singapore as Malacca. In any case, it is not easily found in Malaysia, so I think it is right to say that Hainanese curry rice is Singaporean cuisine.
The foremost characteristic of Hainanese Curry Rice has got to be the overflowing curry gravy you’re typically given. This to me is pretty much a Singaporean thing. You don’t just get a lot of gravy with Hainanese curry rice, but also with roasted meat on rice (e.g. Char Siew or roasted duck rice), wanton noodles etc. Frankly speaking, I don’t normally like to have so much gravy in my food (besides, it’s not true to the Cantonese style of which some of these dishes originated from), but when it comes to Hainanese curry rice, I love the overflowing gravy!
Hainanese curry rice is much like mixed vegetable rice, where you choose 3 or 4 of your favourite dishes to go with rice, except the dishes are like on steroids. The dishes that are normally sold with the Hainanese curry rice are like the fine dining counterpart of the mixed vegetable rice dishes. Many of them require a long time to cook, such as slow-cooked Cabbage (which is a must-order item – I really love the taste and texture) and braised pork. Pork chop is another popular choice, as well as curry chicken. There can be more than 20 dishes sold at a Hainanese curry rice stall, and they’re all pretty good.
There are so many Hainanese curry rice places around Singapore, and the stall that I can safely recommend is Hup Seng at Toa Payoh Lorong 7 Toa Payoh Block 22A Food Centre. The braised pork (pictured at top) is really soft and tasty, and it felt like it was not made of frozen pork, which is rare these days. The cabbage is perfect as well, soft and thoroughly marinated. The curry is very distinctive (may not suit everyone’s preference), it is heavily spiced (star anise) and has resemblance to Indian curry. Overall, it is very satisfying.