Geylang Claypot Rice is a specialist claypot rice (colloquially referred to as sar poh fan, or in Chinese 砂煲饭 shā bāo fàn) and zi char restaurant in the middle of Geylang. We were a bit burned out with the endless number of cafes and western restaurants that we had been going to of late so we decided to visit a more traditional hawker-esque establishment. Upon our arrival we were immediately queried as to whether we had made an order in advance. As we had not, we were informed that there would be a 30-minute wait, which is the time it takes for them to prepare the claypot rice.
They were near full house during their weekend lunch period, so it would definitely be good to call in advance to shorten the wait for your claypot rice and confirm the seating availability. It is also quite difficult to secure a parking lot in the area during peak hours, but thankfully the shop has a deal with the nearby Nanyang Huang Clan Association at 16 Geylang Lorong 35, so do take advantage of that.
Service and Ordering
The place really gave a strange feel. The feeling that we got was smack in between a coffee shop and a Chinese restaurant. As the seating area is in a unit that is separated from their kitchen and cashier, we were not sure whether it was a self-service system or whether we had to go over to make the order. Thankfully there was this smiling uncle that quickly cleared it up and took our order at our table.
As usual with most family-run Chinese food establishments, be prepared to be upsold, but don’t fall for it! If you come in a party of two, their claypot rice for 2 pax is more than enough. We were super stuffed and very happy that we did not order any additional dishes. Of course, if you go in a bigger group, their egg bean curd dishes are know to be really nice.
Geylang Claypot Rice – Sar Poh Fan 砂煲饭 shā bāo fàn
As someone who is used to eating claypot rice at home without the claypot, this was quite an amazing experience. They preheat the claypot over a slow fire using traditional charcoal, cook the rice in it to about 70%, dump the remaining ingredients inside and they serve it to you just like that. You will have to add their dark sauce concoction yourself according to your desires and use the provided ladle to mix everything together. If you like that crispy burnt rice at the edges you should wait for a very short while before stirring, but we suggest not waiting too long as burnt rice does become too burnt after a while.
Also, they recommend squeezing two rounds of their dark sauce before stirring, but we would have liked a bit more of it for the added savoury kick. You will have to use the ladle to stir really hard, making sure that you scrape all the rice from the bottom of the claypot and mix everything around. If you leave some rice stuck to the claypot, it will be burnt beyond recognition.
This is the happy result, and as you would have seen from the pictures above, there is a generous serving of chicken, vegetables and rice – and this is plenty enough for two people. As can be seen from the preparation technique here, one of the more important ingredients is the dark sauce, so make sure you add plenty of it and stir thoroughly. We were a bit surprised that there was no salted fish included in this dish, as we assumed that it was standard. Without the salted fish it was missing a bit of the kick. We rate this 4/5. After including taxes, we paid S$14 for their two person portion of the claypot rice.
This seems like a very easy dish to make and sell. Just heat up the claypot and put the ingredients in it, let the the customers do all the hard work, and you can blame them if it doesn’t taste nice 😆 – today we have Thai Mookata and Korean BBQ doing that, but the Chinese mastered that art centuries ago with the claypot rice! Joking aside, it is anything but easy to make claypot rice. You have to get the timings down just perfectly, cooking the rice to just the right amount and you have to carefully select the most flavourful ingredients.
Make a trip down if you are craving claypot rice but remember to call in advance. Ask for salted fish.