Last Updated: June 15, 2017
Hainanese Curry rice is perhaps one of our local comfort foods. Sloppy with gravy and stewed cabbages but so satisfying with the must-have pork chops. So I went on a little hunt for the top curry rice spots.
The traditional Hainanese curry rice consists of braised/fried pork, braised cabbage/ chap chye and of course, loads of curry. These style of curries are not the usual types with strong coconut creaminess and curry powder flavour. Instead, they are usually light, sweeter and only a tiny bit spicy despite its very similar appearance to other strong curries.
For good curry rice many of us are willing to travel far and wide because well…it’s pretty rare, the take back of an amazing curry rice with paradoxical layering of chap chye, pork chop and a multitude of messy sauces is worth it.
As less and less Singaporeans are continuing the curry rice trade, let’s celebrate and appreciate hawker food before we lose a significant part of our culture.
You might have heard about Hong Seng Curry Rice for its tastiness and hawker son who is doing the godsent favour for all Singaporeans of taking over his father’s business. (Kudos to you brah.)
Hong Seng’s Curry Rice differs largely from the rest of this list’s mostly because their curry is of stronger flavoured variety. Spicy and assam, its taste is leaning towards Curry Fish Head’s curry than the usual sweeter, blander hainanese curry rice sauce.
Hong Seng also offers a wider variety of dishes like binjai, lap cheong, tofu and battered fried prawns (which looked really good).
Thankfully for me, their pork chop was actual pork chop and not pork chips. At this point of time I would like to clarify that when I say pork chips, I meant that the pork meat to batter ratio is 1:5, making it seem like wholly eating fried batter.
It was fried till crisp and dark brown hence had the slightly bitter charred taste, the meat was sweet while the batter was salty and aromatic. Still, it was a tad dry.
The curry is really different from most, if not all, the curry rice places. If you like your curry to have more flavour (or simply resemble curry more) and more spicy, this is it.
Hong Seng Hainanese: Redhill Market and Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane, #01-74, Singapore 150085 | Website
Opens: 10am – 11pm, closed Thurs
Previously known as Cheng’s Delicacies selling Hainanese Curry rice, Cheng’s 27 is now the newer hipper version of it at the hipster vibes populated Yong Siak. Still, that’s the charm of tiong bahru – the old and new.
Cheng’s 27 is a clean modern zi char shop that sells the usual suspects with a Hainanese twist. They even have desserts like eclairs and homemade cookies.
Their curry rice is really simple, just a piece of juicy pork chop, with a pool of curry beside a heap of rice. The pork chop exterior is executed nicely with superb crispness.
Cheng’s 27: 27 Yong Siak Street, Singapore | Tel: 62237883
Opens: 10am – 3.30pm, 5.30pm – 9.30pm daily, closed Tues
At the extreme end of singapore lies a pretty unknown Hainanese curry rice. No, although it is at Jurong West, you don’t have to bring a parang to slash greenery to access this place.
Like the usual kind of Hainanese curry rice, you can expect the curry to be slightly sweet and not exactly tasting like curry. Another brown goopy sauce is added together with the curry as well. The curry is slightly less starchy then most of these Hainanese Curry Rice places.
They aren’t the kind to drown your entire plate in curry, so your vegetables, pork chop and some parts of your rice are still left untouched. if you are one of those who dislike your entire plate drenched with curry, perhaps this place would be up your alley.aaa
Potatoes had a satisfying texture while the pork chop was juicy yet crispy on the outside, with a substantial amount of tender meat. Generally a decent place to get your curry rice fix.
Jurong West Hainanese Scissors Curry Rice: Jurong West 505 Market & Food Centre, 505 Jurong West Street 52, Singapore 640505
Populated with lunchtime crowd, you can identify Eu Kee from its snaking lunch time queue so you might want to avoid it during peak hour.
It’s a decent place to get your curry rice fix – they’ll generously rain three different types of sauces for their perfect curry gravy combination that is thick, dark and rich. The selection of ingredients are pretty basic: fried egg, fried pork chop, chap chye, egg, curry chicken, braised meat/ tao pok.
All the items come together as one beautiful mess, having all basic elements of a good curry rice.
Eleven Fingers (Eu Kee) Scissors Curry Rice: Rong Liang Ge Eating House, Queen Street, Blk 269B, #01-235, Singapore 180269 |
Toa Payoh’s curry rice deviates from the traditional kind as it offers a much wider variety of dishes.
One can find hash browns, steamed eggs and minced meat balls in the selection, which is usually very sparse in variety in the case of more traditional Hainanese curry rice stores.
It is also wet and goopy with ample curry gravy just the way I like it.
Their curry belongs to the saltier variety, with a little grainy aftertaste and tasted just a bit like prata curry.
Would recommend this if you like your curry slightly saltier with a wider variety of dishes to select.
大巴窑剪刀剪咖喱饭 Curry Rice: 210 Lorong 8 Toa Payoh, Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market & Food Centre, Singapore 310210
Oh the porkchop sat so gloriously under the spotlight, glowing golden brown, looking crisp as hell. See what I did there ahh?
And its appearance did not deceive at all. The pork chop batter was light and crispy, close to that of a croquette’s; not a bad thing because croquettes are really pretty looking. Despite being soaked in curry for a bit, it still maintained some of its crispiness. Taste wise, it was fragrant and well-seasoned.
Their lean, thin strips of hainanese char siew is worth ordering too. Soaked with the honey sweet sauce, the meat was nicely chewy without the usual fats from char siew. But it does not have that roasted charred taste though.
The cabbage was soft and sweet, the kind you wouldn’t mind feeding your toothless grandmother who forgot her dentures.
Interestingly, there was this dish called ‘shark meat with salted vegetables’ which I didn’t order because I found out too late. However, probably one of the most essential part of curry rice – the curry, was not as fantastic as the others so there’s that.
Tian Tian Curry Rice: 116 Bukit Merah View, Singapore 151116
Opens: 9am – 9pm
It was a tad interesting to see that a place so highly recommended looks so simple and unassuming – even the colour of their signboard has faded. And when you peer into the food display, it looks really bare and almost to the point of unappetising. However, after the first mouth, I understood how it has such a following.
Maxwell Hainanese Curry Rice ($3.30)
Messy sloppy goodness. The drenched rice makes you wanna gobble everything up in a jiffy. The pork chop is evidently of the thin, pork crisp/chips kind more than it is a pork chop. Maxwell Hainanese’s Pork chop has a detectable layer of sweet aromatic batter.
The broiled cabbage with tang hoon is really soft and silky but the gravy is kinda sour. The curry here is not starchy, instead it is more watery and slightly more assam-ish than the traditionally sweeter hainanese curry. It also carries a little spice kick.
May not be my favourite but this is still really good, I gobbled it up easily.
Maxwell Hainanese Curry Rice: Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184, #01-68
Opens: 11am – 7.30pm, Closed Fri
Run by a lovely couple who has been doing this for more than 50 years, like most traditional hainanese curry rice stores, they only have a standard few dishes you can choose from.
They have a selection of cabbage, long beans, pork chop, braised pork and eggs.
Havelock Hainanese Curry Rice ($3.20)
Havelock Hainanese’s Curry is very different from the others I’ve eaten. It is the only curry that I couldn’t exactly tell was curry because of its transparency and overall taste.
It simply seemed like a thick yellow sauce that neither tastes nor smells like curry. However, when you mix it with their out of this world chilli, it tastes like an interesting blend of ‘curry’.
The pork chop is also of the thin crispy kind that more resembles pork chips – tastes like ba hu/ pork floss. The braised cabbage also has a nice balance of soft and crunchy.
Havelock Hainanese Curry Rice: Sims Vista Food Centre, Block 49 Sims Place, #01-70
Opens: 7am – 4pm daily
No, really, it has neither a name nor a signboard at all.
Set in this old dingy kopitiam behind/beside the popular and bigger food centre, this place really makes you doubt the cleanliness of your food. But before you’re put off by this place, you might wanna hear how much hype and love No Name curry rice gets for their food.
No Name Hainanese Curry Rice ($3.70)
A very raved about place, Beo Crescent is known for their crispy pork chop which I know some people really love. (I however, like thicker kind of pork chop where i can feel the meat, if it hasn’t been mentioned enough above).
Their curry is of the not-so-starchy variety, with a little bit of spice to it.
No Name: Blk 40 Beo Crescent, Singapore 160040
Opens: 6.30am to 3pm daily, Closed on Weds
Opening at 2am, Feng Kee mostly caters to the Pasir Panjang port gate workers but after them ungodly hours, many people flock here for breakfast and lunch as well.
When I was there during lunchtime, there were 4 people hard at work fulfilling orders methodically like an assembly line. The aunty – takes orders, pours sauce, the uncle – collects money and packs takeaways while 2 other chefs inside cook relentlessly to replenish the depleting food. One of the chefs was simply frying sunny-side ups endlessly.
While I really enjoyed tian tian’s pork chop, pasir panjang’s felt less artifical as it is less chewy and more…meat-like?
Feng Kee Hainanese Curry Rice ($3.50)
Won’t you look at that lustrous glistening sauce.
The braised pork though was wowwwww. Each little piece had a distinct layer of fats, meat, fats and meat. Apart from its visual perks, it was the kind of braised pork that has reached an otherworldly level. They have achieved both a melt-in your mouth sensation while maintaining that stringy characteristic texture of meat.
They have 3 kinds of sauces – the curry, the other brown sauce and char siew sauce. Usually if you say ‘yes’ to curry on your rice, it’ll be accompanied with the mysterious brown sauce.
Despite the heat and the almost unending queue, the people here did not get mad when I took a tad longer to choose side dishes. The chef inside could still crack jokes while perspiring madly, frying up those eggs. Lovely patient folks.
Come quick! Because sadly, the people slogging behind the store are going to retire next year. Their offspring do not intend to take over the business and understandably so because hawker business is hella tough. Bye cheeky uncle you will be missed.
Feng Kee Hainanese Curry Rice: Pasir Panjang Food Centre, 121 Pasir Panjang Road, #01-41 Singapore | Tel: +65.9650.9647
Opens: 4am – 2pm daily (closed Sun)
Scissors Cut/ 剪刀剪 was the first ever curry rice my adolescent mouth has eaten. It was also the one that made me fall deeply in love with it. Now I know there will be many dissenters of this 3rd place but hey, you’re entitled to your own opinions.
Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice ($3.50)
Reason it is called scissors cut is probably because the person behind the glass expertly cuts up almost everything you order with a pair of scissors with a one-track mind. I never realised someone holding a scissors with such determination could be more enthralling than scary.
While the entire plate being flooded by goopy curry sauce might not appear appetising, it is still undeniably delicious.
Almost every inch of your food is covered by sauces yet the curry does not overwhelm or clash. The cabbage here is done to optimum suppleness and crunch factor.
And, the pork chop has enough bite to it with a crisp batter. The curry smells richly spiced and flavoured but contrary to its smell and appearance, it is pretty light. And pairs fantastic with the braised pork sauce.
Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice: 229 Jln Besar, Singapore 208905 | Tel: +65 9826 1464
Opens: 11am – 3.30am daily
Curry Rice ($3.00) + Assam fish ($3.50)
Probably one of curry rice lovers’ ultimate favourite, Loo’s Hainanese can be considered the poster child for hainanese curry rice. In the industry for more than 50 years, and situated at such a prime location, it is no doubt many people know of them. Loo’s Hainanese has a legion of fans, a snaking queue during lunch time a spectacular taste to back it all up.
Pork chop has a layer of meat inside unlike the ones at Beo Crescent and Maxwell and Havelock – coated with a crispy fragrant batter. The curry is of a thicker consistency and its predictably sweet but carries a slight zest.
The curry isn’t the type to flood the whole plate so it looks less messy. Instead, it is just drizzled on top of the ingredients. Would be better with more curry sauce which you can probably request or. Also, the extra assam fish alone costs $3.50…ouch.
Loo’s Hainanese: Seng Poh Road, 71 Seng Poh Rd #01-49, Singapore 160071 | Tel: +65 6225 3762
Opens: 8am – 2.45pm (closed alt. Thurs)
Truly Test Kitchen is run by a pair of young Singaporean hawkers who have taken over a Hainanese curry rice legacy (formerly Truly Curry Rice) and now turned into an entire kopitiam serving other dishes as well. It is an injection of new blood to carry on the old traditions, and you have to appreciate the hard labour the young owners have chosen to pursue rather than sitting behind an office desk.
The Hainanese fried pork chop is juicy while still retaining a crisp exterior, soaking up really well with the mildly sweet, savoury curry. Generous portions are given, and one individual portion typically works out to be less than $4. Truly great value for truly delicious curry rice.
Truly Curry Rice: 153 Kampong Ampat, Jun Jie Industrial Building, #07-05, Singapore 326328
Open: daily 6am to 3pm (closed Sun)
To quote my father “life-changing curry rice”
Superb curry with distinct rich aroma of coconut and spices – a different style from the usual Hainanese curry. The sambal fish was great, with the sambal sauce done fiery yet tame enough for you to want more. Feels very homely yet I know my home can’t possibly cook till this standard for nuts.
Redhill Hainanese Curry Rice: Redhill Market and Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane, #01-95, Singapore 150085
Opens: 10.30am – 9.30pm (closed Sun)