Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯 or “Lor Bak Peng” is one of the quintessential Taiwanese street food to have, and we are starting to see more versions of this appear in Singapore.
One thing to note is that while Singaporeans are used to bowls with loads of meat with less rice; the reverse seems to apply to many Lu Rou Fan stalls in Taiwan where there is very little meat in contrast to rice.
While most places claim to be “authentic”, every store really presents quite a different take.
Here are 10 places you can head to in Singapore for your Lu Rou Fan cravings:
350 Ubi Ave 1, Singapore 400350
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
William Liou aka Mr Lorbak is a chef turned hawker, and his stall has attracted a fair bit of media attention with a specialised take of the Taiwanese fare of Lu Rou Fan ($4).
Mr Lorbak himself is a 4th generation hawker, with the recipe passed down from this grandmother.
He only wanted to do one dish initially to focus on quality over quantity. The braising accordingly takes about 29 hours to complete per batch.
Unlike most places, they do not use any flour to thicken the sauce, and instead cook it using low temperature for long hours to reduce it. The braising sauce is derived from a master stock of over 20 different herbs and spices (and fun fact: that master sauce is 3 years old now).
Compared to most stalls in which the meat is cut to small pieces, you still get medium sized ones with a good bite with tenderness.
They work with a supplier to ensure that the pork belly has a golden ratio of 70% lean meat with 30% fats – soft, firm, fatty, but not jelak (overly rich).
Eat 3 Bowls 呷三碗 福利社
Blk 462 Crawford Lane #01-161 Singapore 190462
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Eat 3 Bowls 呷三碗, which was previously humble stall at Seah Im Food Centre, has moved to a bigger space at Crawford Lane with a Taiwanese classroom-themed café setting.
I almost wanted to order everything on the menu, so decided on the safe choice of an Eat Three Bowls Set ($15) of Braised Pork Rice, Chicken Rice, Oyster Intestine Mee Sua, along with a drink.
Good for two to share. (Actually, I think one hungry man can finish this.)
The Lu Rou Fan was as authentic as it gets, with pork meat and fats braised for a number of hours, scooped on fluffy-short grain rice with that right amount of partly-oily sauce.
Some places serve versions which are too dry or oily, while Eat 3 Bowl’s version is a dish of comfort.
Suntec City #B1-132, 3 Temasek Blvd, Singapore 038983
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 9pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 9pm (Sat, Sun, PH)
Downstairs is a nostalgic-themed local café which is now located at Suntec City.
The Braised Pork Belly Rice and Lava Egg ($6.00) is probably one of my favourites – as the alternating meat and fat in the strips of pork make this a succulent dish to add over a bowl of rice.
Slow braised for many hours, the pork belly achieves the right tenderness that make it fork-tender.
Order this rice bowl, which also comes with generous portion of salted pickled vegetables on the side, and a lava egg to mix with the rice.
You don’t often find pickled vegetables in Lu Rou Fan, and sweet and slightly vinegary taste helps balance out any greasiness from the braised meats.
Xiang Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine 香香百年台湾味
799 New Upper Changi Rd, #01-04 Bedok Point, Singapore 467351
Tel: +65 8128 3331
Opening Hours: 11am – 9:30pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs – Sun), Closed Wed
Who would have known that there is an authentic Taiwanese cuisine eatery at the back of Bedok Point? (Unless you frequent that mall.)
While the owners have no prior F&B experience, their hope was to carry on with the legacy and recipe of the friend of their father.
Therefore, they also insist of using many Taiwanese ingredients, with no additional MSG.
Xiang Xiang’s Braised Minced Pork Rice ($7.80) may be on the slightly expensive side, but its portion and quality makes this worthwhile.
Their braised pork belly did remind me of those in Taiwan, with slight saltiness (I wished the flavours would be fuller.) Do not miss out on the spicy chilli, which does add a fragrant kick to the mix.
And yes, you also get to experience the Taiwanese warmth and hospitality here.
Isshin Machi 一心一町
224 East Coast Road, Singapore 428921
Opening Hours: 11am – 9.30pm (Mon – Sat), 9am – 9:30pm (Sun)
The 70-seater space at East Coast is beautifully decked with wooden furniture pieces and mural art painted in white and blue, depicting the various iconic places in Taiwan such as the Jiemei (Sister) Lakes (姊妹潭) in Alishan, Taiwan.
Their signature bowl of Hakka-style Braised Meat Rice ($9) aka Lu Rou Fan came with both fatty and lean strips of braised pork, pickled vegetables, sliced cucumber and a whole braised egg.
Compared to the Lu Rou Fan in Taiwan, the Hakka-style Braised Meat Rice here comes with a more generous amount of braised meat and sauce, drizzled onto the soft and fluffy white pearl rice.
There was an almost-equal ratio of lean to fatty braised meat, which enhanced the chewy sensation whereas the braised sauce leaned towards a viscous texture, with flavours on the robust and savoury side.
Hei Lun Shi Tang 黑轮食堂
Queensway Shopping Centre, 1 Queensway #02-47 Singapore 149053
Tel: +65 9817 4793
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Not many would actually know that there is a Taiwanese kiosk on Level 2 of Queensway Shopping Centre (After all, it’s somewhere you go for sports apparels).
Hei Lun Shi Tang 黑轮食堂 serves up Taiwanese fare in customised metal bento box, with offerings of Signature Braised Pork Bento, Stewed Pork Belly Bento, Pork Cutlet Bento, Fried Chicken Bento, Braised Chicken Bento and more. Each is priced at $5 or $6.
In order to get a similar taste to Taiwanese, the owners insist on using top grade Duroc pork belly meat, superior soy sauce and Taiwan-made rice wine stewed through a slow and meticulous cooking process of 4 hours.
The outcome is a savoury, and not too oily pork with sauce that coats onto the grains of Japanese rice.
The plus point is that the rice is served in a customised metal bento box, to get that Taiwanese feel.
Tie Fun Wan
50 Hougang Ave 1 #01-00, JForte Sportainment Centre, Singapore 538885
Opening Hours: 12pm – 8pm (Mon, Wed, Thu), 12pm – 9pm (Fri, Sat), 12pm – 6pm (Sun), Closed Tues
After a successful opening of their first store at Rangoon Road and at pop-up events, fans of Tie Fun Wan would be thrilled to hear their latest opening at Kovan, within the premises of JForte Sportainment Centre.
Contrary to Taiwanese-style Lu Rou Fan, Tie Fun Fan’s rendition of braised pork rice originate from Teochew Lor Bak recipe, with more distinctive flavours characterized from soy sauce gravy and usage of spices such as cinnamon, star anise and five spices powder.
Braised and simmered over time, this resulted in a pot of braised pork infused with rich savoury flavours with hint of spices aroma.
They then further improve their recipe by the addition of sous vide egg, bonito flakes and chopped scallions to balance out the flavour.
While the flavours didn’t stand out initially, it slowly grew onto me at subsequent mouthful with varying bite texture from the ingredients that were well-complemented.
5 Little Bears
Paya Lebar Square #B1-09, 60 Paya Lebar Road, Singapore 409051
Tel: +65 6702 1098
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
The genesis of this cuddly named shop is a Taiwanese immigrant who relocated to Singapore with his family.
Back then, while the family did find Taiwanese food in Singapore, they still missed the authentic taste of their home. The “Big Bear”, the head of the family with 5 children, began to set up 5 Little Bears to bring authentic Taiwanese street food to Singapore.
Recommended item is the Braised Pork Rice aka Lu Rou Fan ($5.00), made with pork belly cubes simmered in Taiwanese soy sauce and spices.
The pork has a well-balanced ratio of fat and lean meat making this traditional Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan full of flavour but not oily.
Another pork dish to try is the Pork Chop Bento ($7.50), a deep-fried battered boneless pork chop that’s crisp on the edges yet still juicy inside.
43 Holland Drive, #01-41, Singapore 270043
Tel: +65 6258 8112
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Monki Café is located at Holland Drive, serving up Taiwanese-Western savoury meals and icy snow flake desserts. Quite under-the-radar.
The Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice ($9.00) was served by a Taiwanese lady who was also the cashier and the cook (one-woman operation), the rice was fragrant and fluffy, topped with savoury pieces of braised pork which must have been stewed for a while.
It reminded me of the pork fillings of a bak chang (rice dumpling).
This tasted like what a Taiwanese mum would cook at home for her children – I meant it in a good way. Warm and comforting, but perhaps lacking in that commercial finesse.
Orchard Xchange, B1-26, 437 Orchard Road Singapore 238878
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Woo Ricebox is one of Taiwan’s most popular chains for rice boxes 悟饕池上饭包 with more than 70 years of history. (The culture of Taiwanese rice box started due to long train rides in Taiwan, where commuters can still have convenient meals with a balance of meat and vegetables while traveling for hours.)
The local shop uses only short-grain rice from 池上in Taidong (the short-grain rice from this region is prized for its fragrance and ‘qq’ texture when cooked).
Each box also comprises sautéed vegetables, pickles, braised egg, and a main meat item
Fans of Lu Rou Fan will be happy to find Braised Minced Pork Ricebox ($6.90) at Woo Ricebox. While I thought that the rice could be fluffier, a friend from Taiwan thought it was quite close to home.
Good to note that the rice boxes are specially manufactured with wood such that the wood absorbs excess moisture from the ingredients; and this helps to ensure that the food does not turn soggy.