Saturday, October 27, 2018

Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball at Toa Payoh

Mr Hoo, 72, took over the stall from his father-in-law about 60 years ago. This is one of the 2 stalls that are still serving chicken rice balls. It is located at Toa Payoh Lorong 1, right next to Braddell MRT. The other stall is Hainan Chicken Rice Ball located in a coffee shop along Dickson Road in Jalan Besar. There used to be around 10 stalls serving chicken rice balls along Jalan Besar. Mr Hoo and his wife are both Hainanese and their stall has been around for about 80 years. They were at Jalan Besar before moving to the current location for more than 30 years now and they are still using traditional cooking methods. The stall is named "Good Year" to symbolize "more good years." Traditional rice balls still serve to preserve the Hainanese culture and its authentic taste.

I was there at about 11.30 am on a weekday and there was no other customer at the stall. The lady boss was there to take my order. I asked, "Can I have the mix of white and roasted chicken with the rice balls?" She said, "Can. Do you want bean sprouts?" I nodded my head and asked, "Should be able to finish, right?" She just smiled. If I remember correctly, I paid $6.50 for everything. The condiments are available at the counter for self-service. I only took a saucer of chilli. It was ready in a bit and placed on the tray. 

I was served breast meat for both, it was tender and quite moist. The white chicken is a slightly better choice as it was more flavorful. 

The stir-fried bean sprouts was a good choice. There was a big plate of it on the shelf. The lady boss just scooped it from there and served on the plate before placing it on the tray.

The chicken rice balls are often eaten during special occasions like Lunar New Year, Qing Ming and birthdays. It is known as "Fan Zhen" (饭珍) in Hainanese, which represents family reunion. It is cook over a controlled fire with ingredients like chicken stock, ginger, pandan leaves. The rice ball is mold using hot rice into a round ball at about 120 grams, about the size of a tennis ball and using the combination of young rice and old rice for the texture and bounciness. They are still doing it by hand as the machine is not able to press the balls tight enough using a recipe that has been handed down from the first generation.

The traditional method of enjoying the rice ball is to eat it with hands as it is supposed to taste better. The rice balls were densely molded, the rice grains were partially mashed and it had a rather mild taste of the chicken broth, it did not crumble even when biting upon. It was moist and not greasy. They also serve the rice on the plates.

The chilli, as well as ginger paste, are still handmade. The texture of chilli is slightly runny to go better with the rice balls, the level of spiciness is rather mild with a hint of ginger.

The flavorful soup is served with groundnuts and chicken feet. 

It is delighted to see this elderly couple still have so much love for serving this authentic Hainanese dish and wanting to preserve the culture. 

Block 111 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-366 Chang Cheng Mei Wah Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 310111
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 7.30 pm (Closed on Fridays)

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