One of Singapore’s most bellowed comfort food, Hainanese Curry Rice is basically a plate of rice slathered with a gloopy curry sauce and a soy-based braising sauce, and combined with many sides.
The humble dish of Hainanese Curry Rice is said to be developed during British colonial rule by Hainanese living in Singapore.
As many Hainanese were employed by the British and Peranakan families, dishes such as Pork Chop and Curry Chicken became some of the iconic dishes.
Don’t know what to order? At least go for the ‘four heavenly king’ dishes of Hainanese Curry Rice which are the Crispy Pork Cutlet, Curry Chicken, Braised Pork Belly and Braised Cabbage.
Sides are often crumbed with other items such as pork trotters stewed in soy sauce, fried egg, crisp-fried battered prawns, minced meat patty and more depending on the stall.
Typically messy with the splashing of sauces and gravies, the lovely chaos of ingredients is the trademark of an authentic Hainanese Curry Rice.
Not ‘instagrammable’, never mind. Here are 10 of the best Hainanese Curry Rice in Singapore you can try:
Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice (Tiong Bahru)
71 Seng Poh Road, #01-49, Singapore 160071
Tel: +65 6225 3762
Opening Hours: 8am – 2:45pm (Fri – Wed), Closed Thurs
Operating since 1946, Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice has become an all-time fave of families generations after generations.
The stall is housed in a coffee shop along a row of shop houses at Tiong Bahru.
Mr Loo Kia Chee took the business from his father and has been running it since then, preserving his traditional Hainanese curry recipe.
Each batch of curry is prepared for days, including a couple of days chopping ingredients and a day of machine grinding.
That process makes the curry smooth, creamy, and aromatic. Spice level is mild, and the creamy coconut and refreshing ginger flavours shine through.
Drenched over plain rice, it becomes a messy, hearty indulgence.
Pork Chop is a meat-lover’s dream. Coated with pounded biscuit crumbs then deep-fried, the pieces were thin, yet moist and succulent.
For fatty indulgence, go for the thick chunks of Pork Belly with creamy melt-in-your-mouth fat and a rich, smoky braised sauce.
No Name Hainanese Curry Rice
Blk 40 Beo Crescent, #01-10, Ho Ping Hng Coffeeshop, Singapore 160040
Opening Hours: 7am – 3pm (Thurs – Tue), Closed Wed
Opened in 1988, this nameless Hainanese Curry Rice stall is well-known to Tiong Bahru residents for its shiok curry and crispy pork.
Some call it “No Name Hainanese Curry Rice”; others say “Beo Crescent Curry Rice”. Though discreetly located, it attracts long queues of buyers ordering cai png style.
Each serving of Curry Rice comes with three kinds of sauces: lor bak sauce, and chap chye gravy, and their signature ayam curry. But if you like things spicy, choose the assam curry.
The sweet chap chye gravy gives a nice contrast to the savoury Lor Bak. Though curry is thin in consistency, it is full-bodied in flavour.
For the sides, order their most popular one, Crispy Pork, usually loved at first bite. Marinated overnight, fatty cuts of pork are coated with batter and double-fried ‘til deep brown and extra crispy.
Throw in some Stewed Cabbage to break the chain of fatty flavours. Cooked ‘til tender but not soggy, this well-seasoned side is good enough for two.
China Street Hainanese Curry Rice 中國街咖哩飯
1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-68 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore 069184
Opening Hours: 11am – 6pm (Sat – Thurs), Closed Fri
For Hainanese Curry Rice first-timers, Maxwell Food Center is one of ideal places to get introduced to this popular Singaporean comfort food.
You often find a long queue here during lunch hours, and items get sold out wait before their closing hour.
Here you can find a delicious, well-executed rendition prepared fresh daily.
First off, the curry is thick, rich and only mildly spicy. I liked how mellow it was without a weird spicy tinge. Pair it with the highly-recommended Pork Chop ($1.50).
Lounging in the gooey pool of sauces are thick slices of crispy pork chop, coated in a thin, crisp and fragrant batter. You can taste and tell the pork has been marinated well.
Other variations for pork are Pork Belly ($1.50) and Minced Pork ($1.30). If not, go for the Fish, Cuttlefish, Prawns, Beancurd or Egg.
Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice
116 Bukit Merah View, #01-253, Singapore 151116
Tel: +65 9821 0200
Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Founded as a venture by the family’s great grandfather, this Bukit Merah hawker stall has been around since 1973. Secret family recipes are passed down and preserved, forming the foundation of this popular stall located at a coffee shop next to Bukit Merah View 115 Food Centre.
At Tian Tian, each bowl of Curry Rice is slathered with a generous mix three kinds of curry: chicken curry, seafood curry, and vegetarian curry.
And if the sauciness is not enough, you can request for additional meat sauces: lok bak sauce, char siew sauce, and pork chop gravy. You can create your own combination.
Typical of most Hainanese curry, spiciness level is low and its flavour is more on a mild, sweeter flavour.
The go-to choice of meat is the crumb-coated Pork Chop, a thick, well-seasoned meat deep-fried to a golden brown. It is accompanied with a bowl of brown gravy – use it as dipping sauce for the pork or let it mingle with the rest of the curries.
Try also the meaty Squid and enjoy its fresh, savoury-sweet taste and chewy but not tough texture. They only use good quality squids from reputable suppliers so it might not be in the menu if good squid is not available.
Sin Chie Toke Huan
1018 Upper Serangoon Road, Tai Peng Gardens, Singapore 534756
Tel: +65 9003 5337
Opening Hours: 5pm – 3:30am (Mon, Thurs – Sun), Closed Tues, Wed
Sin Chie Toke Huan is all about home-cooked style Hainanese curry rice and an array of side dishes, very popular in Hougang.
Outdoor seats are available, and it has a vibe that brings back memories of family home-cooked dinners.
Their Traditional Hainanese Curry Rice is coated in a well-flavoured mildly-spiced curry, and carry the aroma of curry leaves.
Among the veggies, the braised cabbage is a staple side-kick for the fragrant curry rice. Soft texture, fiber-rich with a naturally sweet taste accentuated with a mild garlic flavour.
Going to the seafood, squids cooked in curry sauce is quite popular, tender in texture with a slight chewiness.
The Pork Chop was disappointing as it seemed left there for a while (cold), though the Har Cheong Gai or Prawn Paste Chicken is recommended.
Made with crisp-fried chicken wing with a mildly pungent taste from the prawn paste, its crunchy exterior encases the juicy meat inside. The slab of Otah Otah was the other saving grace.
Eleven Fingers (Eu Kee) Scissors Curry Rice
269B Queen St, #01-235, Singapore 180269
Opening Hours: 11am – 6:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Even though Google states that the stall closes at 6:30pm, I have never really seen it open during those hours and make it a point to visit before peak hour lunch.
Apparently, the original owner had an extra finger, thus the name of the stall.
This is probably where you can get a fulling and satisfying meal for $3 – $5 right opposite Bugis Plus.
The selection of items is not as wide ranging as some of the other eateries, though you still get decent choices such as Curry Chicken, Braised Pork Belly, Braised Tau Pork, Ngor Hiang, Cabbage and Egg.
The two big pots of gravies looked very appealing, namely the Braised and Curry sauce. The Curry did have an obvious spicy tinge and curried powder taste, not overly gooey in terms of texture.
I did wish for the Crispy Pork Chop to be hotter (cold in fact), and Braised Pork Belly more tender (surprisingly tough). But overall, a satisfying and hearty mix drenched in sauces.
Hong Seng Curry Rice
#01-74 Redhill Food Centre, Blk 85 Redhill Lane, Singapore 150085
Opening Hours: 10am – 10:30pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 10:30pm (Sat – Sun)
This cheap and good food stall at Redhill 85 Food Centre is run by 2nd gen hawker whose family has been in the same business for over 20 years.
The choices at this stall make it stand out, as there are 20 plus different dishes cooked on a daily basis including Braised Pig’s Skin, Curry Fish, Sambal Long Beans, Chye Poh Egg and Curry Potatoes.
Recommended dishes include Pork Chop, Char Siew, Braised Pig’s Trotters, Dong Po Pork, Boneless Curry Chicken, Fried Chicken, Curry Sotong, Prawn Fritters, Hae Bi Hiam, and Ikan Billis with Peanuts.
Prices go from $0.70 per portion to say $4 – $6 for the fish. There is even a $4 Value Set Menu featuring six dishes include Pork Chop, Prawn Fritter and Fried Egg.
Come in a group, order a small variety, and when you add everything up, you really this rice stall is really quite economical.
The curry has a Japanese curry-like thick texture, more robust with the use of spices (though may not be my personal favourite).
Toa Payoh Scissors Cut Curry Rice 大巴窑八巷剪刀剪咖喱饭
210 Lor 8 Toa Payoh #01-28, Market & Food Centre, Singapore 310210
Opening Hours: 11am – 3:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Quite an under-rated stall, and considered not as famous as many of the other Hainanese Curry Rice.
Prices start affordably, with one veg and a meat at $2.50, and goes up to 2 veg and 2 meats at $4.30. Additional cost for fish orders.
Popular items include Pork Chop, Braised Pork, Curry Chicken Wings, Curry Vegetable and Egg.
While slightly salty, I loved its pale-orangey slight-sticky and thick curry as it was different from all the rest that I had. It was one I thought managed to achieve a balance of savoury, spicy and sweet, without being overly gooey or thin.
Yong Fa Hainanese Curry Rice
#01-25, 448 Clementi Ave 3, Singapore 120448
Opening Hours: 10am – 2pm, 4pm – 7pm (Mon – Fri) or till sold out, Closed Sat, Sun
The Hainanese Curry Stall’s queue at Clementi 448 Food Centre is steadily long throughout the opening hours but the service here is quick and efficient.
Other than Curry Fish Head and Curry Fish, you can order the signature sambal squid, curry mutton, curry chicken wing, pork chop, and vegetables.
Each item ranges from $1 to $3, so better do your calculations if you are price sensitive.
The food is a bit towards the pricy end but the generous serving size and taste makes up for it.
I can understand why people would like this curry rice – it is the freshness and curry. While I always worry about the ingredients being cold after left out in the open, there was still this warm and homely touch.
The curry gravy was one-of-a-kind, slightly on the thin side and spicy. Can ask for the fish curry gravy if you would like a tangy touch.
Scissors Cut Curry Rice
229 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208905
Tel: +65 9826 1464
Opening Hours: 11am – 3:30am (Mon – Sun)
It is still a mystery how the legendary scissor-style Hainanese Curry Rice 剪刀剪咖喱饭 was invented.
The restaurant known for late-night suppers is famous for its clacking, metallic snapping sound of the scissors… and of course its rice.
The serving size is generous, prices are affordable (though not when compared to the past), and continues popular late night place hang-outs.
While the curry rice looks extremely unappetizing and ugly, fans say they taste heavenly, covered with gooey sauces and toppings of your choice.
My personal favourite dish was the Braised Pork, sliced into thin rectangular shapes, of tender meat braised in a dark greasy sauce. The cabbage was cooked till pale green and squashy, but tastefully soft.
Sometimes (getting more often of late), the deep-fried items get served too old, and therefore not crisp enough.
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