Last Updated: September 8, 2020
I was lying comfortably in bed last weekend when my phone buzzed. It was a message from a fellow north-easterner living in Sengkang and it read, “Fel, King of Fried Rice opened at Sengkang Kopitiam Square! Wanna supper?”
I’ve heard countless good reviews since King of Fried Rice’s opening at Golden Mile Tower but have never got to trying their highly-raved fried rice simply because I’m an avid Din Tai Fung supporter.
Whenever I crave a comforting plate of fried rice, I’ll head over to my trusty Taiwanese chain restaurant at Waterway Point. To me, it’s a convenient option that comes with xiao long bao, so why bother travelling to Golden Mile?
With King of Fried Rice’s second outlet opening at Sengkang, the tables have turned. After receiving that message, I thought, “How about a food showdown to see who exactly makes a better Fried Rice with Pork Chop?”
With humble beginnings as a stall hidden in the basement of Golden Mile Tower, King of Fried Rice (which I will refer to as ‘King’) recently opened a second outlet at a more accessible location in Sengkang Kopitiam Square.
In comparison to its limited sitting space at Golden Mile, Sengkang Kopitiam Square provides a comfortable environment with plenty of seats within the kopitiam itself. The menu offerings at Sengkang remains the same. There are four types of fried rice ranging from a regular Egg Fried Rice (S$4) to a fiery plate of Mala Fried Rice (S$5), alongside two proteins—Shrimp or Pork Cutlet—for you to add-on.
I’m pretty sure Din Tai Fung (which I’ll refer to as ‘DTF’) needs no further introduction. Originating from Taiwan, this chain heritage brand specialises in Huaiyung cuisine and has more than 100 outlets worldwide.
Mention Din Tai Fung, and immediately, xiao long bao comes to mind. After all, this was the dish that brought the brand to fame back in the 70s and 80s. With time, other dishes such as their soups, noodles and fried rice also won the hearts of many diners and the brand has remained a crowd favourite when it comes of affordable and finely prepared Chinese cuisine.
The presentation of the Egg Fried Rice With Pork Cutlet (S$6.50) at King was essentially the same as the Fried Rice With Pork Chop (S$13) at DTF. It comes as a dome-shaped egg fried rice mound, crowned with a slab of pork chop. Before we look into the protein, let’s first dig into the bed of rice.
The moment I got a hold of my dish from King, its fragrance hit me. Every grain of their egg fried rice was individual and glistened under the white lighting of the hawker centre. The short-grain pearls had a chewy texture with random hits of saltiness in between bites.
Interlaced between the rice were generous ribbons of egg that added to the texture and richness of the fried rice. What I particularly loved about King’s fried rice was the subtle wok hei aroma that contributed to its characteristic flavour.
DTF’s fried rice was vastly similar to that of King’s in that each grain was individual and the rice overall was light and fluffy. However, DTF’s version had more of a herbaceous aroma, all thanks to their generous use of scallions. Every bite brought piquant notes of scallion without being too overwhelming.
The egg mixture in DTF’s fried rice was also more evenly distributed. Unlike King’s, there were no huge random chunks of egg whites or yolks. Every mouthful was consistent and its flavours balanced well resulting in a wonderful combination, with or without the accompaniment of a protein.
Nicely crisp on the sides yet tender and juicy in the middle, King’s pork chop has that perfect texture that tickles the tastebuds of all pork lovers. The pork loin was perfectly marinated, packing a punch of savoury-sweetness that was undeniably addictive.
The pork was so tender that I could easily cut through it with my plastic spoon. As I chewed on the meat, I felt the layers of fat and lean meat breaking apart between my teeth. Sweet meaty juices spilt onto my tongue, causing me to unknowingly smile to myself as I savoured its goodness.
Appearance-wise, DTF’s pork chop instantly won me over. The caramelised brown skin was consistent throughout the entire slab of pork chop and that alone aroused my appetite. Here, the slices of pork chop were more immaculate-tasting; the marinade was not as strong as that used at King’s and thus, I could taste the delicate mild sweetness of the meat itself.
Probably due to the use of a leaner cut of meat, the pork chop was not as juicy—-unlike King’s. They were tender-to-bite but after a few mouthfuls felt a little dry in the throat. Thankfully, the fried rice made up for it with its lip-smacking texture.
As a spice lover, the quality of the chilli sometimes makes or breaks a dish. In both these instances, their chilli oil played a significant role in adding that tinge of fieriness to the plate.
Frankly speaking, if you put both King’s and DTF’s chilli oil in front of me and ask me to tell them apart, I wouldn’t be able to. The colour, taste and texture of both eatery’s chilli oil were almost identical it made me wonder if they came from the same supplier.
But if I really had to dig deep and analyse their differences, I would say that King’s chilli oil had larger chilli flakes as compared to DTF’s. Nonetheless, both of them had similar nutty and smoky nuances that elevated the dish sufficiently.
After two continuous days of Fried Rice With Pork Chop and three full hours of analysing, I’ve finally come to a conclusion. This was a difficult one considering that both dishes had so many similarities.
First of all, let me put it out there, despite the need to wait for one hour, King of Fried Rice still has my vote. Although I enjoyed Din Tai Fung’s egg fried rice, the pork chop served at King of Fried Rice is one not to be messed with.
If you are planning a visit to King of Fried Rice at Sengkang Kopitiam Square, be forewarned that the waiting time can hit up to two hours during peak period as the chef only cooks two portions at a time to ensure its quality. For those of you who are not willing to wait, Din Tai Fung makes a great alternative with a comfortable dining experience.
Have you tried both King of Fried Rice and Din Tai Fung’s Fried Rice With Pork Chop? If you have, we would love to know which you preferred as well!
King of Fried Rice (Sengkang Outlet): 10 Sengkang Square, Kopitiam Square, #01-48, Singapore 544829 | Tel: +65 8266 1638 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 10pm (Daily) | Facebook