In our modern Singapore society where everything is about being fast, fast, fast… having a meal of Claypot Rice can certainly test the patience of many.
I am talking about the traditional Claypot Rice cooked over charcoal from scratch, which is fast disappearing. At the popular stalls, be prepared to wait anything from 45 minutes to more than an hour.
The good thing is, many stalls allow you to make phone calls to reserve, so that the waiting time is not so excruciating.
So what is it about Claypot Rice, since most of the ingredients such as chicken, lup cheong, salted fish and sometimes Chinese mushrooms are about the same?
It is the skill in cooking and managing the fire, and of course the type of dark soya sauce, oil and chilli given to enhance the flavours.
Not forgetting about the ”guo ba”, when the charcoal cooking leaves a nice charred layer of rice sticking to the bowl waiting to be scraped off once the bulk of the rice is gone. Yums. Here are 10 Claypot Rice recommendations:
New Lucky Claypot Rice
Holland Drive Market and Food Centre, 44 Holland Drive, Singapore 270044 (10 min walk from Buona Vista MRT)
Tel: +65 6778 7808
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:00am – 1:00pm, Dinner 5:00pm to 8:00pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs – Sun) Closed on Wed
Opened since 1979, the stall used to be located in Bukit Merah and Clementi, but has since moved to its current location in Holland Drive.
The waiting time is estimated to be between 20 to 30 minutes for off-peak periods, and 45 to 90 minutes for peak period.
You can call to reserve (+6567787808) to minimise the wait, but be ready with your orders, and remember the queue number they gave you. For dinner service, call at 4:00pm onwards. Nothing earlier.
The signatures at New Lucky Claypot Rice include the Claypot “Wu Wei” Rice for two pax ($10/$15), 3 pax ($15/$20), 4 pax at ($20/$25). The “Wu Wei” rice includes a mix of both chicken and Chinese sausages.
I found the lup cheong particularly tasty without being tough or dry, specially supplied by a shop in Chinatown.
The chicken pieces were also well marinated, had a smoky flavour, without being too bony.
Additional tip: The chilli sauce bowl is kept at the side of the stall. Do go get some. New Lucky Claypot Rice (Holland Drive)
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 (Note: Chinatown Complex Food Centre is currently undergoing renovations till end June 2019)
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.
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.
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). Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice (Chinatown)
Geylang Claypot Rice 芽笼瓦煲饭
361, 363, 365 Beach Road Singapore 199576
Tel: +65 6744 4574
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 10pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Do not be confused, Geylang Claypot Rice is located at 361 Beach Road (opposite The Concourse) and not Geylang Lor 33 anymore.
After a wait of several months, the popular Geylang Claypot Rice has moved from a humble coffeeshop, and reopened to a modern swanky shop with 3 shop spaces.
The high point is the house specialty Claypot Rice ($15 for 2 pax, $26 for 4 pax, $36 for 6 pax), cooked in a claypot over charcoals.
Each pot is served with toppings of pork belly, bits of salted mackerel fish, well-marinated chicken, two types of lup cheong (Chinese sausages), and fresh vegetables.
I must say that the portion and ingredients were generous, and it is not difficult to find many pieces of tender chicken within – I almost didn’t get any dry pieces. Be careful though, as some chicken chunks come with small pieces of bones.
The rice was fragrant and moderately soft, without that greasy feeling.
One of the highlights is always the guo-ba – those ‘burnt’ rice-parts that sticks to the side of the pot that needs to be scraped out. They were nicely-crispy, yet not charred and black. Geylang Claypot Rice (Beach Road)
Yew Chuan Claypot Rice
#01-73 Golden Mile Food Centre, 505 Beach Road Singapore 199583
Tel: +65 9137 5661
Opening Hours: 12pm – 8:30pm (Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri), 4pm – 8:30pm (Sat, Sun), Closed Thurs
Close to 40 years in the claypot rice business, this couple team is still going strong at its original stall at Golden Mile.
The main dish – Claypot Chicken Rice, is the star of this food stall. It comes in varied portion sizes. You can get it for $12, $18, $24, $30,
However, warning warning, you have to wait a good half an hour as the stall is often crowded as your food is prepared fresh on order. But it is well worth the wait.
Yew Chuan’s Claypot Rice is a classic – fragrant rice which was topped with tender marinated chicken pieces, tasty Chinese sausages, fresh green vegetables and light traces of salted fish.
The winner was the soya sauce, thick and dark, yet not overly salty which would usually make one thirst.
Added with a formulated sweet chilli sauce, the combination was aromatic and addictive. Cooked over charcoal, the moist rice was soft and fluffy on the bite.
It complimented well with the slightly salty meat and sausage slices. One wished for some mushroom pieces for an added texture though.
Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice
4 Jln Tampang, Singapore 758948
Tel: +65 6757 7144
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Sembawang folks will know about this Claypot Rice shop, which also serves up other zi char style items such as Salted Egg Pork Ribs, Claypot Curry Chicken, JB-style San Lou Bee Hoon, Claypot Seafood Da Lu Mian and KL Hokkien Mee. (If you are from somewhere else and drive, parking can be tricky during weekends.)
But most people are here for the Traditional Claypot Rice ($8.80, $13.80 and $19.80).
The rice here is still cooked the authentic way, in which the grains are cooked from scratch in the claypot over hot charcoal. This also gives it the added fragrance, even heat throughout, and the signature guo ba burnt crispy bits of rice on the inside.
My favourite component were the marinated chicken pieces, though I would have preferred if they were less bony. For its price, there is quite a lot of other ingredients such as Chinese sausages, vegetables, and bits of salted fish.
It is a not bad rendition (considering more than 40 years of history), but somehow lacked that additional ‘magic’.
He Ping Claypot Rice
148 Sims Avenue Singapore 387470
Tel: +65 6748 9495
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
With over 40 years of history, He Ping Claypot Rice located at Geylang (near Lor 19) serves up Claypot Rice from $8 onwards.
The Claypot Rice is prepared the traditional way with charcoal, so be prepared to wait 30 minutes or more if you did not reserve before hand.
There is something different about the way it was served. The ingredients of chicken chunks, Chinese sausage, salted fish and salted duck egg yolk were removed before the dark sauce and oil were poured in. Auntie helped with the entire process, rather than some stalls which are DIY.
Auntie mentioned this is so that customers can choose and add ingredients, rather than to have it all mixed in. (I was quite divided on this decision as I felt that the salted egg and fish would have taken better within, well mixed.)
Don’t forget about the sambal chilli, which helps some of the blander parts more flavourful.
Yuan Yuan Claypot Rice
ABC Brickworks Food Centre Unit #01-38, 6 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-38, Singapore 150006
Opening Hours: 4pm – 11pm (Mon – Tues, Sat – Sun), Closed Wed, Thurs, Fri
Yuan Yuan Claypot Rice sells authentic claypot rice at $10 for a 2 person portion.
The rice comes with tender meat (depending on which one you order) that is marinated in a special spice mix over 5 hours, and other generous amount of toppings including Chinese sausages and salted fish.
Each claypot is cooked to order over a traditional charcoal stove which may explain why there is a long wait at all times at the stall.
Additional note: It seems like the quality of the Claypot Rice would depend on who’s cooking it, according to online reviews. Generally, the elderly uncle and auntie seem to be the ones people go for.
Tai Liok Claypot Chicken Rice
Alexandra Village Food Centre Unit #01-66 120A Bukit Merah Lane 1, Singapore 151120
Opening Hours: 5pm – 10pm (Wed– Sun), Closed Mon, Tues
The stall used to be located at Level 2 of Margaret Drive Food Centre, and has moved to Alexandra Village Food Centre. A lot of regulars have continued supporting this stall.
It sells the fragrant dish of Claypot Chicken Rice (price depends on portion size) that comes with a generous portion of lup cheong and boneless chicken meat.
The price is at $12 for 2 pax, $18 for 3, $23 for 4, and $28 for 5.
The rice is fragrant and considered to wetter than the typical which is on the drier side; topped with generous portions of chunky yet soft chicken meat.
You can also add on side dishes including Oyster Sauce Vegetables ($5 – $6), Pig Stomach with Pork Rib Soup ($4), Water Cress with Pork Rib Soup ($4) and Herbal Black Chicken Soup ($3).
Tip: You can call in advance (say 30 minutes to an hours) to place an order as it will take some time to cook the rice.
Fu He Delights 福和
Berseh Food Centre #02-40/47, 166 Jalan Besar Singapore 208877
Opening Hours: 11am – 8.30pm (Sat – Thurs), Closed (Tues)
Fu He Delights at Berseh Food Centre may be more known for its Turtle Soups (one of the two stalls left selling this at the hawker centre), but many customers were also ordering their Claypot Rice ($7, $15, $20).
They also serve up many different styles of soups from Herbal Black Chicken, Ginseng Black Chicken, Lotus Root with Pork Ribs, and Shi Quan Duck Soup to pair with the claypot dishes.
After a 25 minutes’ wait or so, the hot piping pot of aromatic rice with sizzling sounds would just whet your appetite.
While I thought that the ingredients such as chicken, lup cheong and vegetables tasted separate from one another, the tantalising factors were the flavourful dark sauce and sweetish-chilli sauce.
One of the better Claypot Rice you can find in this area.
Jade Palace Restaurant
Forum the Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road #B1-13 Singapore 238884
Tel: +65 6732 6628
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
While the above 9 Claypot Rice are mainly found in food centres or stand-alone eateries, I thought I should include Jade Palace Seafood Restaurant since they are famous for their traditional Claypot Rice.
The restaurant was established since 1998 is located at the basement of Forum the Shopping Mall, known for traditional Cantonese cuisine and is popular among businessmen.
There is a one-paged selection for its Claypot Rice itself, with ingredients such as pork ribs, dried scallop, minced chicken, preserved pork sausage, liver sausage, to even South African abalone.
Be prepared to pay a whopping price though. The basic Traditional Assorted Preserved Meat Claypot Rice is priced at $68++. Though I have friends who say, ”Yi fen qian, yi fen huo” (Essentially, you pay what you get.)
After having this, I really cannot disagree. Their Claypot Rice is out of this world, or at least out of the ordinary.
Every single component included were delicious in certain ways – like how did they cook such that the rice was separate and still soft, fluffy and flavourful.
At the end of the meal, leave some rice behind because broth and coriander would be added to the leftovers to create a soup dish. Hearty and comforting. (Would have this more often if not for its price.)