Last Updated: January 24, 2021
It’s hard to find an authentic Hainanese curry rice stall nowadays, not to mention one that only uses fresh ingredients and is generous with its toppings. Old Hainan Curry Rice is just that — traditionally authentic and sooo delicious.
This family-run stall is located at Upper Thomson Road (previously at Serangoon North Avenue 1), but you might recognise it from its time at Block 322 Hougang Ave 5 instead. It spent a good 23 years there and only moved to Serangoon in December 2018.
Old Hainan Curry Rice was started by grandpa Ah Min in 1995. He was previously an insurance agent but had a massive passion for cooking, and learnt how to cook Hainanese curry rice from his father.
In fact, grandpa Ah Min would often cook it for his entire family — this was the Chin family’s comfort food growing up. What you get as a regular customer here at Old Hainan Curry Rice is something familiar and delicious, with a touch of home-cooked goodness, executed with the finesse of years of experience in the kitchen.
Now, grandpa Ah Min’s children and grandchildren run the stall together as an entire family.
When I visited during lunchtime, it was heartening to see Grandma Chin dishing out the rice. Mama and Papa Chin doled out the ingredients to waiting customers, while the grandchildren helped with the cooking and cashiering.
In a way, it reminded me of my own kitchen at home. Mum’s at the stove, Dad’s setting the table, and the kids are busy ferrying the dishes back and forth. There’s the occasional squabble, but everything functions like a well-oiled machine.
Despite being a family business, it’s still tedious and exhausting.
The Chin family have to wake up at 7am to start preparing all the dishes and ingredients, and it takes about three hours to prepare the stall for opening.
Out of more than a dozen dishes available, only the luncheon meat isn’t prepared in-house. The rest is meticulously prepared, cooked, braised, deep-fried or pan-fried by the stall.
That includes the braised pork belly, egg floss, braised pork chop, fried pork chop, deep-fried chicken drumstick, handmade meatballs and many more.
The prices are all relatively reasonable too, and if I dare say, cheaper than some cai fan stalls out there.
A bowl of rice goes for S$0.60, vegetables for S$0.60, meatballs for S$1.20, curry chicken for S$1.20, fried or braised pork chop for S$2, braised meat for S$2, sardines for S$2 and seafood for S$3+.
More impressively, they serve set meals too. Classic A (S$3.80) comprises braised pork belly, cabbage, egg and rice, while Classic B (S$3.80) comprises braised pork chop, cabbage, egg and rice. So cheap!
We got two plates of rice with ingredients of our own choosing.
The first plate cost S$5.80 and had rice, fried pork chop, long beans, and egg floss. The second plate cost S$6.90 and had rice, braised pork chop, cabbage, a meatball and a fried chicken drumstick.
If you had to ask me which was my absolute favourite dish out of all those that I had picked that day, I’d say without a shadow of a doubt that it had to be the braised pork belly.
It was so soft. The minute I placed it in my mouth, it melted in a glorious mess. I couldn’t differentiate meat from fat — it was that tender and soft.
Because it had been braised, the meat was sticky sweet and tasted like a soya sauce reduction. It had a smoky aftertaste because it had been fried as well, so there was a delicious balance between roasted, sweet and savoury.
Coming in at a close second was the fried pork chop.
It was relatively thin as if it had been pounded, but it was still tender, sweet and juicy. I loved the fried exterior, which was peppery and salty, and reminded me of Taiwanese fried pork chop.
The egg floss was something unique that I definitely wanted to try, and it didn’t disappoint. Its texture was light, stringy and airy, like bonito flakes, but I could taste a natural sweetness from the eggs, and it was delightfully crispy and indulgent.
I especially loved how it absorbed the savoury curry sauce and became a tad fluffier, like actual egg slices, rather than fine strands of egg floss.
Choose between pan-fried long beans and chap chye for your vegetables. I personally prefer crunchier and more savoury vegetables, so I picked pan-fried long beans.
It was roasted and crunchy, with a good smokiness from the fried shallots, and tasted superbly well good on its own. I didn’t even have to pair it with rice or any other ingredients.
If you’re wondering what Old Hainan Curry Rice’s golden curry sauce tastes like, it’s absolutely delicious. It’s smoky, sweet and savoury all at the same time.
I could taste the fragrant curry spices, as well as other herbs, powders and ingredients (which is a trade secret, and rightfully so).
We’re told that it takes seven different broths to make the aromatic curry. This includes the juices from the braised pork belly and pork chop, the hua diao wine in the homemade meatballs, the sauce from the vegetables, and much more.
In some odd way, its stickiness and smoothness reminded me of Japanese curry.
The one thing I appreciated the most about Old Hainan Curry Rice was that they drenched your plate with curry prior to piling it on with your selected dishes.
This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the individual dishes as it is without having the fragrant curry sauce overpower everything.
A meal at Old Hainan Curry Rice left me so satisfied, happy and full. Trust me, I ate every single thing on my plate and was unabashedly picking at my dining companion’s plate once she was done with her meal too.
There’s just something so simple and indulgent about a good ol’ plate of curry rice, especially if it’s done well. And I’ve got to say, the family behind Old Hainan Curry Rice does a darn good job.
It’s making me wish I stayed nearby so I could order a plate of comforting curry rice whenever I wanted. If you stay near Serangoon North, count yourself lucky that this little gem is near your house!
Expected Damage: S$3 – S$7 per pax
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Old Hainan Curry Rice
107 Serangoon North Ave 1, Singapore 550107
107 Serangoon North Ave 1, Singapore 550107