It seems like the Teochew style of “Pao Fan” 泡饭 is gaining traction in Singapore, with a couple of Chinese restaurants and zi char places including the dish in their menus.
“Pao” 泡 would mean “submerging”, while “fan” 饭 refers to rice.
While looking similar to porridge, the styles of preparation are quite different.
Porridge is cooked using rice grains simmered in water or stock; while the rice grains are first steamed then drench in the broth for Pao Fan.
Chao Ting 潮亭 located at Far East Square is probably the first Pao Fan specialty store to offer this dish in individual portions.
You can say it is a sister outlet to the neighbouring Zui Yu Xuan 醉宇轩 which specialises in Teochew cuisine.
It is popular with the CBD workers as it makes for a simple yet hearty meal, only opened during lunch hours from 11am to 3pm.
There are three types of Pao Fan offered at Chao Ting – King Prawn Pao Fan ($11), Sliced Fish Pao Fan ($9) and Fried Fish Pao Fan ($9).
Each bowl is topped off with fresh coriander, spring onions, fried shallots, fried egg floss and golden crispy rice – which differentiates this from the usual porridge.
The broth is slow-cooked with whole prawns, pork, chicken and fish bones for over five hours daily.
While looking light, it was nevertheless flavourful and had a peppery slant to this – not as strong as Bak Kut Teh but delicate and still appetising.
What I enjoyed was the combination of the fragrant jasmine rice, along with crispy grains which gave that characteristic crunch.
However, they won’t be that dramatic, hot-piping effect of pouring seen in some Chinese restaurants.
Pro tip: Recommended on the add-on menu is the Fried Egg Floss and Fried Fish Skin ($3) which gives those added savouriness and textures when dipped in the broth.
Chao Ting 潮亭
132 Amoy Street, Singapore 049961 (located within Far East Square)
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm (Mon – Fri), Closed Sat, Sun