Updated: Oct 11, 2020
Two weeks ago, I was at Chinatown Complex Food Centre for my first self-styled "Michelin Food Marathon" but not able to end the mission with a dinner at Lian He Ben Ji Claypot due to the unexpected long waiting time. I made a separate trip back to the stall again to try their claypot rice.
This time, I was at Lian He Ben Ji at 4:10pm. I thought I was early. Despite the published opening time as 4:30pm, the stall was already opened for business. Some of its diners were eating their claypot rice and some had finished and left — it probably started as early as 4pm as I heard an elderly man telling others how he called in to order his meal at 4pm sharp and was informed to wait for 40 minutes.
Most of the tables were still empty at such an early time for dinner, so I grabbed a table and ordered a "smooth" chicken claypot rice (滑鸡饭, $5). I had to wait for 50 minutes, which made my dinner time at approximately 5pm. I was prepared for the wait this time and started testing my updated apps on my iPhone for iOS 14.
Just before 5pm, a clean set of utensils was placed on my table and my claypot rice came few minutes later. It was steaming hot and the chicken looked so meaty, white and smooth, not like those overly-dried chicken served at other places.
Before eating the claypot rice, I needed to add some sweetened dark sauce and oil to the rice and stir it thoroughly. It would be hard to stir claypot-cooked rice if it was too dry without adequate amount of oil. The dark sauce was for adding flavour.
Conscious that I should not make the rice too salty and oily, I added both condiments sparingly and when needed, kept stirring the content until the chicken and rice were evenly mixed.
The "smooth" chicken was really soft, tender and juicy. It was hard to believe that the chicken was cooked in a claypot and yet remained so tender. That would require great skills at controlling the heat and timing. The rice exhibited a nice "claypot taste" and was not burnt. Since I had gone easy on the dark sauce, the saltiness of the meal was just nice. It was a great meal that worth the long wait.
I like the way they let the diners add the oil and dark sauce according to their own likings. I will be back again to try their mixed claypot rice, which have both chicken and preserved meat — wonder why I did not try that first.
🏆 : Bib Gourmand
📍 : Chinatown Complex, #02-198/199
🕘 : 4.30pm to 10.00pm
😴 : Closed on Thursdays
* During the COVID-19 period, stall's operating hours may differ.