In our modern society where everything is about being fast and efficient, Claypot Rice is possibly one of those food that would disappear in time to come.
I mean, those stalls that cook the rice in the pot, not add after.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot 联合本记砂煲饭 located at the corner of Chinatown Complex Food Centre is one of the most popular claypot rice stalls in Singapore (the other being New Lucky Claypot Rice at Holland Drive.)
It has also made it as one of the 50 restaurants and hawker stalls in the 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmand Selection list.
The stall has been in business since 1979, and has gathered tons of loyal customers through the decades. Its original location was in Kreta Ayer, near the intersection of Sago Lane and Keong Siak Road, before it moved to Chinatown Complex Food Centre in 1983.
Mdm Lim runs Lian He Bin Ji with her sisters (and also a cousin), hence it earned the moniker “Sisters Claypot” or “Three Sisters’ Claypot Rice”.
The average waiting time can be anything from 30 minutes to more than an hour, as they have no shortage of customers. When they tell you it is 1 hours 15 minutes, it is really about there.
Some customers I saw walked away shocked after they heard the waiting time. So the recommendation is to get a drink or dessert from another stall, and make small talk with whoever is waiting with you.
If not, come as early as 4:30pm for your dinner.
Why is Lian He Bin Ji’s claypot rice so good and worth the painstaking wait?
It starts with good quality long grain rice that is cooked to order and never pre-cooked. The minimum waiting time is 25 minutes. That is the time it takes to cook the rice grains and for the flavours to meld together.
Each claypot of rice is steamed to a boil over a gas stove for 5 minutes. Once boiling, ingredients are added so all the flavours could seep into the rice. Then, the claypot is transferred to one of the charcoal stoves.
There it sits and simmers over the blazing charcoal flames for the next 20 minutes. That will give the rice a wonderful, smoky flavour.
With this tried-and-tested-for-years cooking method, the rice turns out fluffy, tender yet retains a subtle firmness. Moist but not too wet. Each grain is distinct, not mushy.
They do not scrimp on ingredients and use good chunks of chicken in bone, duck liver sausages, pork belly, and slivers of salted fish, wax meat, and lup cheong (Chinese sausage).
And for those who like guo-ba, here’s the best part. Scraping that partly charred rice in the base and sides of the claypot and mixing it in. The crackle of the crisp brown rice combined with the fluffy rice, moist chicken and savoury flavours will be a party in your mouth.
And if you prefer to boost the flavours, drizzle some dark soya sauce and fried shallot-infused aromatic oils to your claypot rice.
I do think that this is one of the best Claypot Rice in Singapore, but maybe I have other favourites – the Holland Drive stall being one of them.
You can order a Mixed Claypot Rice for $12 SGD, good for sharing for 2 persons. Other choices include Sausage, Chicken, priced at $5, $8, $10, $12, $15, and $20.
As a side dish, you can pair your claypot rice with deep-green vegetables with oyster sauce, sprinkled with fried shallots for crunch and extra sweetness.
Aside from claypot rice, Lian He Ben Ji also sells double-boiled soups like Watercress Pork Rib Soup, Salted Vegetable Pork Rib Soup, Lotus Root Pork Rib Soup, Chicken Log Peanut Soup, Old Cucumber Pork Rib Soup, and Black Chicken Herbal Soup.
All are priced affordably at $2.50.
Occupying the corner of Smith Street Food Centre, Lian He Ben Ji’s stall is bright and airy unlike other stalls within the food centre.
Compared to other areas which can get stuffy, eating here will be relatively more pleasant – though it can be still hot as it is an open-air concept.
You can also call (Tel: +65 6227 2470) to make a booking of the claypot so that you don’t have to wait THAT long. Enjoy!
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot
Blue Zone Block 335 #02-198/199 Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 6227 2470
Opening Hours: 4:30pm – 11:00pm (Fri – Wed), Closed Thurs
Google Maps – Lian He Ben Ji Claypot (Chinatown Complex)
Other Related Entries
New Lucky Claypot Rice (Holland Drive)
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee (Hong Lim Food Centre)
Kok Sen Restaurant (Keong Saik Road)
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (Chinatown Food Complex)
Tian Tian Chicken Rice (Maxwell Food Centre)