The rainy weather nowadays makes me crave for a hot bowl of belly-warming porridge in Singapore.
For the purpose of consistency, this food guide includes mainly the inexpensive Cantonese or Hainanese thick-style of Porridge found in local food centres and coffeeshops.
Sin Heng Kee
Blk 685 Hougang Street 61, Singapore 530685
Tel: +65 9118 1569
Opening Hours: 7am – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
Sin Heng Kee takes up an entire coffeeshop at Hougang Street 61, always swarming with people and its best to go in early. Apparently, there is another outlet at 101 Yishun Ave 5, #01-19/21.
They serve extremely thick concoction, which is the result of hours and hours of boiling to right consistency.
The recommended bowl is the Signature Porridge ($5) which includes a mixture of pig’s organs, pork slices and meat balls; while you can also order the Century Egg with Lean Meat, Sliced Fish or Triple Egg Porridge ($4, $4.50).
The congee itself could be a bit bland to some, but the texture was nicely-creamy when mixed with yolk. The best parts were the minced pork and mixed organs which were tenderly-soft. I would have liked the bowl better if I didn’t feel that thirsty after the meal.
You can also get fried dough fritter ($0.80) with the congee. However, it comes in a plastic bag and unfortunately soggy. Most regulars who bothers to, would go to the opposite kopitiam to ta-bao freshly-fried ones, and the shop seems to allow that.
Johor Road Boon Kee Pork Porridge
638 Veerasamy Road, Singapore 200638
Tel: +65 6296 9100
Opening Hours: 6:45am – 2pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
This is a slightly under-the-radar stall (at least on the social media sphere), but don’t be deceived as this Hainanese porridge stall attracts a constant crowd and often sold out way before closing time of 2pm.
This stall within a kopitiam at Veerasamy Road (near Jalan Besar) starts operations at 6:45am.
The basic bowl starts with $3, and there are various options such as pork, chicken, sliced fish, cuttlefish, or a combination of the ingredients.
Additional egg or century egg cost $0.50 extra, and I would reckon it is worthwhile to add both.
Rest assured this is a nourishing, filling, belly-warming bowl, and you would find the texture much-thicker than the usual ones.
The grains are still slightly distinguishable, but yet it is overly still smooth. The winning point are the tender pieces of pork without a strong ‘porky’ smell.
Zhen Zhen Porridge 真真粥品
Maxwell Road Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-54, Singapore 069184
Opening Hours: 5:30am – 2:30pm (Mon, Wed, Fri – Sun), Closed Tues, Thurs
There are several stalls famous for congee at Chinatown and Maxwell Food Centre, such as Tiong Shian Porridge Centre and Hoe Kee Porridge, but many have a soft spot for Zhen Zhen Porridge.
However, the waiting time was a bit longer than I would have liked. As mid-morning is their rush hour, you may want to get there a bit early.
The queue was not entirely the reason for the wait, as the aunties inside took a painstakingly long time to cut up the ingredients and get orders.
Choose between Fish Porridge, Chicken Porridge, Sliced Fish with Shredded Chicken and Century Egg, Century Egg and Chicken, and Fish Belly Porridge ($3, $4, $5).
The congee was warm and pleasant with thick and dense rice grains cooked to a perfect consistency. Every spoonful was full of delicious ingredients like meat, chicken, and century egg along with other peripherals of spring onion, shallots and chopped preserved vegetables.
It is easily one of the better congees around Singapore with its smooth texture and varied constituents.
Note: While there are stated opening hours, Zhen Zhen Porridge may close as and when.
Hong Kee Porridge
31 Commonwealth Crescent, #02-89 Market & Food Centre, Singapore 149644
Tel: +65 9067 5755
Opening Hours: 6am – 2:30pm (Mon – Sun)
This stall hidden within Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre is known among residents in the vicinity for serving the ultimate comfort food, a good old bowl of hearty and delicious porridge.
You can choose from Pork, Fish or Fish Head Porridge, starting from $3.
The recipe has been passed down since 4 decades to bring you old-school flavors that we all loved and found comfort in growing up. With an affordable price and a generous serving size, you can’t go wrong with this dish.
The porridge itself, unlike many other stalls serving the dish, wasn’t bland at all. You may find the consistency to be slightly wetter compared to the usual thick and creamy ones, perhaps to cater to the elderly customers who are regulars.
The bowl didn’t have a typical porky or fishy smell, rather earthy and delicious taste.
Soon Lee Porridge
#01-50, 448 Clementi Ave 3, Singapore 120448
Opening Hours: 6am – 7pm (Mon – Fri), 6am – 4pm (Sat), Closed Sun
This is the perfect comfort food to warm you up, found at Clementi 448 Food Centre.
The Hainanese style porridge is one in which the boiled rice is presented in a grainy texture rather than a smooth paste.
Available choices are Pork, Chicken or Fish, at $3 or $4. Add $0.30 for the egg. However, be prepared to wait and do check on the estimated timings with the stall person.
At the Soon Lee Porridge stall, you can see the pots of congee lined up on the stove, which are only flavoured with ingredients and their secret savoury sauce upon order.
The more it cooks, the better texture and consistency it gets.
I found their Pork Porridge having this lovely thickness (thicker than the usual which fills you up) with warm, homely taste. The ingredients tasted quite fresh with well-balanced seasoning.
127 Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre Lor 1 #02-29 Singapore 310127
Tel: +65 9475 2678
Opening Hours: 7am – 3pm (Tues – Sat), 7am – 2pm (Sun), Closed Mon
88 粥品 (88 Zhou Pin) at Toa Payoh serves up a familiar yummilious taste of Hong Kong styled congee, the quality kind that you would find along the roads of Nathan Lane. On a fine breakfast outing, the single bowl relieved my cravings for Kowloon street food.
What’s Congee without the good old familiar youtiao? The dough stick was freshly deep-fried on the spot and served one long stick on top of the bowl in its entirety.
Some of the recommended Congee included the Meat Ball & Century Egg, Prawn Ball and Meat Ball & Intestine Congee where the meatballs were home-made with a secret recipe.
If you wonder why you could get hotel quality food in a hawker centre, that was because Chef Au worked in Westin Hotel, Raffles Hotel and Hong Kong’s Shangri-La before he moved up to set up his own stall.
Chai Chee Pork Porridge
#01-23, 85 Bedok North Street 4, Singapore 460085
Opening Hours: 5:30am – 3:30pm, Closed on alternate Wednesdays
(An alternate stall at the front will open during evening times till late)
Pork Porridge is real comfort food for me, and I would crave for a bowl once in a while.
Chai Chee Pork Porridge is one of those stalls that you would usually find people queuing at the market.
In fact, they are so popular that they have 2 stalls – one which they open in the day, and the other at night till late. The earlier stall becomes a preparation stall for the night stall.
The Pork Porridge was cooked until it is thick and smooth with an almost gluey texture filled with yummy minced pork and lean pork meat, topped with you tiao and spring onions. Such a bowl of happiness.
Xian Ji Porridge
57 Eng Hoon Street (Tiong Bahru), Singapore 160057
Opening Hours: 7am – 9:30am (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
This is quite an under-rated congee stall, though it is frequently sold out early in the morning. Yes, it operates for 2.5 hours or less.
It is run by two sisters who work tirelessly, stirring the pot several hours before the opening hours to get the rice grains to a perfect smooth and creamy consistency.
A bowl ($7) with an egg (additional $1) contains chunks of fresh pork meat, minced meat balls and small intestines, generous portions of chopped vegetables (watercress), and some pepper and soy sauce.
Flavourful, full of ingredients, and extremely comforting.
Ah Chiang’s Porridge
65 Tiong Poh Road (Tiong Bahru), Singapore 160065
Tel: +65 6557 0084
Opening Hours: 6am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
Ah Chiang’s Porridge at Tiong Bahru has been my regular favourite since the good-old days, though I must say they used to be better – say 2-3 years back when there was visibility more ingredients.
The shop is run on the principles of a healthy, hearty meal at an affordable price.
The setup is quite simple and minimalistic with the porridge shop, opening at 6am and serving simmering hot fresh porridge.
Each bowl of porridge is prepared post ordering, cooked over charcoal so be prepared to wait around 10 to 15 minutes.
The congee is essentially Cantonese style and combines other ingredients like pork, seafood, chicken, vegetables, or century egg. Usually my favourite would be the Mixed Pork Organs with Meatballs.
Or get the Mixed Pork Porridge which comes with springy, handmade pork balls, succulent sliced meat and an array of pig intestines.
While it may look simple and plain, it has a creamy consistency with fresh ingredients. Add some soy sauce, pepper and cut chilies, and you have got yourself a delightful bowl.
You can also find it within The Hainan Story at Hillion Mall and JEM.
Ri Ji Porridge
269B Queen Street, Singapore 182269 (Bugis MRT)
Phone: +65 9815 8230
Opening Hours: 7am – 7pm (Mon – Sun)
This congee stalls goes back to 1976. It was first started by Mr. Wong, and the family recipe has been passed down since then with innovations and improvements to bring its regular patrons the best-selling Cantonese porridge in the area.
The business is small and robust with the servers working tirelessly to make the most palatable and rich congee. According to Dr Leslie Tay from ieatishootipost.sg, the porridge is cooked via a steaming process.
Varieties available here include Pork Congee ($3), Fish Congee ($3.50), Cuttlefish and Peanut Congee ($3.50), and Century Egg Congee.
Although the congee looked simple, and possibly one of the ‘plainest’ I had (in this list), the consistency was smooth and slippery, and didn’t feel jelak (rich) finishing the entire bowl.
While you are here, not to be missed is also the Chee Cheong Fun ($2).