Millennium Glutinous Rice, Chinatown Complex: “A deserved plate of heritage.”

“It’s not your generation,” remarks my grandmother, amidst a conversation regarding my expressed interest towards Millenium Glutinous Rice, a stall that sells the traditional Cantonese dish, unlike the type found in mango sticky rice, which I’m more acquainted. 

Straying further away from the genre of dessert, this delicacy leans more toward the savoury side of things. As a young boy, I vaguely recall seeing the dish at family potlucks and on hawker centre tables. 

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I sound out my new-found delight to my family, looking for any reactions from the crowd. Surprisingly, the name more than rings a bell. My grandma, in particular, hearkens back to her trips to Chinatown for a morning plate of glutinous rice. She warns me of long queues here, adding that they usually sell out by noon. I make a point to go down for a visit, still unsure of what to expect.

Although it isn’t my first jaunt to Chinatown Complex Food Centre, I still find myself disoriented among the many rows of hawker stalls—260 of them, to be exact. Just like every other trip, my meal is plagued by circles of walking, usually in contemplation on what to eat. This time, however, I approach the complex with a more concrete, sticky-rice-shaped goal in mind.

After an intense period of searching, I locate Millenium Glutinous Rice’s brightly-coloured stall front, along with a small queue of fellow hungry individuals. This was 7am, mind you. 

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Luckily for my fickle-minded self, the menu is kept fairly simple. Choose your glutinous rice (S$2) from one of two ways—salty or sweet. Naturally, I opt for a plate of each, fuelled by curiosity as to how the dish manages to warrant an early morning queue of loyal customers.

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A chat with Mr Lam, the hawker behind the one-man stall, reveals that he has been running the stall for over six years, and that the menu hasn’t changed once. Sticking religiously to such a curated selection of dishes—or in this case, dish—must mean he is doing something right. I bid adieu to Mr Lam and settle down at a table, tray in hand.

What I tried

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At first glance, the two plates look similar—both versions dressed with generous heaps of fried shallots. Unlike the sweet iteration, the salty glutinous rice has an added touch of stewed peanuts, and makes for a striking plate of ingredients which may seem small to the uninitiated. No complaints from me as after all, it is but S$2

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While perhaps smaller in portion, Millennium Glutinous Rice is definitely big on flavour. One bite in, and I am sold. It’s an addictive savouriness with each mouthful of rice delivering a forward hint of soya sauce. Each grain of glutinous rice is beautifully separate, chewy, and an absolute delight to devour. 

The fried shallots here take me by surprise, toeing the line between overly charred and oily, a feat mastered by few. Its crispness is a pleasant contrast and exercise in texture, and makes for perhaps the perfect garnishing to the rice. Together, they form a heady combination that is no doubt delicious on all fronts.

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Let’s not forget about the peanuts—the distinctive element between the two iterations. Unsuspecting as they may be, these nuts are stewed to perfection. Mr Lam scoops a spoonful onto each plate from a tray visible through the stall’s glass display, almost like clockwork, obviously attained through years of experience in the art of glutinous rice assembly.  

Firm to the bite but tender on the inside, the peanuts make for a fine snack on their own. But when paired with sticky rice, the whole dish is instantly elevated. As I begin to clean up the plate bite by bite, I notice the sweet glutinous rice still awaits.

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I will admit, it is difficult to imagine sweet-tasting sticky rice, especially when the two look so similar. Yet, that is exactly what it is. Laced with sugar, this version employs the same beautiful texture from before, but with a flavour reminiscent of the sweetest candy you can find. 

Shallots again perfume the dish with an intoxicating aroma that I simply can’t get enough of. While this one is still excellent, I found it more challenging to finish one portion. Maybe I was full from the previous one, but the saccharine tang does get cloying after a while. You’d like it though if you have a sweet tooth. 

As I photograph the storefront, I overhear a customer ordering a mixed variant. Perhaps an off-menu option only a privileged few know, it is a tip I now bestow onto you. There’s my answer in the form of a half-sweet, half-salty plate of glutinous rice, and one I’ll be sure to order on my next visit.

Final thoughts

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I left at 8am with a full tummy and my interest piqued and on my way out, the line remained. It is at this moment I understood the constancy behind its following, where each patron finds solace at the bottom of a white styrofoam plate. 

The draw of the stall’s offerings is perhaps exacerbated by the rarity of this heritage dish, as fewer continue to practice making sticky rice from scratch. A laborious process, no doubt, and one which I commend Mr Lam for upholding with such vigour and finesse. 

Taking ownership of longstanding cultural traditions is never easy, often demanding years of dedication to the craft and in this case, food. In this regard, Millennium Glutinous Rice is aptly named, putting forward time-tested recipes that are affordable, unpretentious and downright tasty.

Expected Damage: S$2 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Millennium Glutinous Rice

335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex, #02-092, Singapore 050335

Our Rating 4/5

Millennium Glutinous Rice

335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex, #02-092, Singapore 050335

Operating Hours: 7am - 2pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun

Operating Hours: 7am - 2pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun