Last Updated: September 9, 2021
When you think of rainy day comfort food, a few usual suspects will cross your mind. Hotpot, ramen, porridge, chicken soup… the list is endless. With the recent events of flash floods and temperatures dipping under 25°C in Singapore, there was no better time for me to talk about my ultimate rainy day comfort food: pao fan. It’s the direct translation of pao (泡) which means poached, and fan (饭) which refers to rice. Voila, poached rice!
A cross-combination of fried fish soup, porridge, and seafood soup, the versatile bowl has been trending for over a year now, with plenty of ex-hotel chefs and celebrities jumping on the bandwagon to open their own pao fan business.
I say with confidence: away with hotpot on a chilly day, pao fan is the way! Get your umbrellas out along with these 12 pao fan stalls in Singapore to visit on a rainy day.
To kick things off, we have Chao Ting, the speciality Teochew poached rice eatery under JUMBO Group that opened its doors in April 2019.
I stumbled across this hidden gem when ‘Circuit Breaker’ hit, and succumbed to online delivery for almost half my meals. It’s a dish that hits close to home yet had to recreate from home, which prompted my first order with them.
Since my phenomenal experience with home delivery, I had to pay a visit to the latest stall that popped up in Bedok. This time, dining in!
Embracing my gluttony side, I ordered the Duo Fish Pao Fan (S$7.80) to indulge. The first mouthful of soup hits you with the taste of the ocean, which carried an intense seafood richness. This might be overwhelming for some who prefer a milder broth.
The slices of fish are just as you’d expect but in generous amounts. My favourite component has to be the crispy puffed rice and egg floss. A stunning performance by the unassuming condiments coming through with an additional dimension to the rice, fish and soup.
A hearty bowl altogether, for the true blue seafood lovers.
Next up, Chef Wai’s Poached Rice. The latest stall currently sits within Food Village at Takashimaya.
Each bowl is served with one type of broth, a prawn-based stock that’s sweet, savoury and strong on seafood flavours. Well-loved and recommended by customers, family and patrons alike, the Emperor Mixed Seafood Pao Fan (S$10.90) gives you the best of all worlds, with prawns, prawn paste balls, scallops, and fried fish all in one.
Some say the secret ingredient is in their chilli sauce, which is self-serve as a condiment to complement the dish. Given that Singaporeans love their chilli, this is one fiery pairing to combat a gloomy day.
Entering the scene in early 2021 is Famous Pao Fan, opened by actor Chew Chor Meng. Located in an air-conditioned food court within Sultan Plaza, the store is widely known for serving up one of the cheapest poached rice with a whole lobster.
That’s right —the signature Lobster Pao Fan (S$16) comes with not just half a lobster but a whole lobster. Unlike competitors, the broth at Famous Pao Fan is less rich and was a lighter colour than the expected bright orange.
For its given price point, it sure is one to go down and try for the lobster lovers.
Here’s the wild card: Kurobuta Pork with Clams Pao Fan (S$8). It’s always refreshing to pao fan stalls own unique renditions.
I’ve always preferred meat over seafood and this version is one to check out on a rainy day. However, you might want to avoid peak lunch hours where it can get crowded and challenging to find a seat within the food court.
Behold, one of my favourite pao fan stalls ever, King of Pao Fan. Very aptly named too. It was founded by an ex-Raffles Hotel chef back in 2020.
I first discovered their Eunos stall when I visited Famous Eunos Bak Chor Mee. It’s conveniently located just a few stalls down and quite a hard one to miss if you’d ask me. I mean, just look at their vibrant signboard!
My ultimate go-to here is always the Fried Fish Pao Fan (S$6). No need for anything fancy but just some simple fried fish fillets.
Trust me when I say this is pure luxury on a rainy day. The broth is rich and savoury; puffed rice and crispy egg floss addictively crunchy, and fish fillets oh-so-soft yet crispy on the outside.
The most satisfying part of the meal was how the richness of the broth, with deep, robust seafood flavours that brought the whole dish together. I dare say I’d pay to get my hands on the recipe!
Nourishing, comforting and appetizing all in one—this is what comfort food looks like to me. It makes me treasure rainy days more to enjoy such an energising meal.
I love Tanjong Pagar. Despite the hustle and bustle, it’s absolutely one of the most saturated areas in Singapore for some of the nation’s best hawkers and restaurants. Hence, every time a new stall pops up, I’m always first in line to check it out. Or at least, I try!
Le Kitchen Seafood Pao Fan arrived at Amoy Street Food Centre in the second quarter of 2021 and extends their love for pao fan through hearty bowls and cheery service.
When I hesitated to get the Seafood Pao Fan (S$8) because of the generous portion, the owner shared with me that it was a must-try. She kindly offered an extra portion of prawns free of charge on top of my initial order of Fried Fish Lala Pao Fan (S$5.50), for me to enjoy the full experience!
As I was waiting for my food to be prepared, she humbly asked how I had heard about them and what other versions I enjoy, and shared her own journey trying pao fan from competitors. It was heartening to know the owners take the time and effort to learn more about their customers’ experiences with the humble dish.
As far as it goes with pao fan, it always comes down to the richness of the broth. While Le Kitchen Seafood missed the mark by just a bit, the giant, succulent and deveined made this bowl utterly value-for-money. I do wish the fish fillets could have been softer as well. Of course, their journey’s only just begun and I look forward to seeing improvements.
My light-hearted conversation with them may have been short, but it’s evident to anyone that their desire to perfect the simple poached rice bowl goes above and beyond. If you’re looking to savour comforting food for the stomach and soul, it’s time to add this to the list of places to visit.
New to the scene, Paradise Group’s Le Shrimp Ramen jumped on the pao fan bandwagon earlier in 2021 and sent dish enthusiasts into a frenzy. Albeit at a higher price, there’s no doubting the soup experts.
Their extensive Poached Rice selection comes served with either Prawn Dumpling (S$14.50), Braised Pork Rib (S$14.50), Big Prawn & Braised Pork Rib (S$18.90),Ebiko Prawn Paste (S$15.50), and Big Prawn (S$18.90).
For all the divine ingredients in one, the Signature Trio Poached Rice (S$19.90) will definitely surpass expectations. Dumplings, prawns, and ebiko paste? Sign me up.
Another 2021 debut entry—Mun’s Seafood Pao Fan, opened by ex-Wah Lok chef with over 30 years of experience. By now, I think it’s safe to say that ex-hotel chefs really love pao fan.
His menu offerings cater more to the mass market, with Pao Fan served with either Fishball Pork (S$4.50), Mixed Pork (S$5.50), and Seafood (S$6.90). If you’re visiting with a friend who’s not so much of an enthusiast, there are noodle options available too.
The scallops are easily the highlight of the hype if you’d ask me. Served in its shell, it’s one worthy of a pit stop if you’re in the west.
Located beside Bedok Interchange at Block 209 lies FoodHub, the trendiest food space with Tai Wah Pork Noodle, Fatty Bom Bom, Hua Zai Roasted Duck, and now, San Pin Pao Fan. The stall was first founded by an ex-Jumbo chef in late 2020, and to date has opened 10 outlets across the island.
What won me over before even trying it for myself was the variety of combinations it offered on their menu. Instead of the usual mixed seafood, fried fish fillet or prawn bowls, I switched it up with the Iberico Sliced Pork Pao Fan (S$7.50).
Another meat option I debated getting was the Superior Sliced Beef Pao Fan (S$7.80). After all, it’s always good to have options that cater to other dietary requirements and preferences.
The pork slices were just as I expected, and it’s definitely reminiscent of what you’d have at any hot pot session. Nothing especially remarkable but a great complement to the bowl nonetheless.
When it came down to the basics, the hearty broth did not disappoint. In fact, it outdid my expectations for a franchised stall. I did struggle to get that crunch from the puffed rice in with every mouthful so if you’re an avid fan of this component, do request for more to be added when you order.
I may be a pao fan fan, but definitely secondary to the loyal following of T.K Kitchen. The zi char hot spot is widely known for serving up one of the best pao fan in Singapore.
The Flower Crab Pao Fan (S$38) is served in a clay pot with a plethora of seafood such as scallops, prawns and clams, and feeds two to three. Understandably, many first impressions underestimate the broth. Don’t be fooled, the wok hei power is strong with this one! Despite presenting a lighter colour than the conventional dark orange colour in other pao fan bowls, the combination of the rich broth, fresh seafood and rice, marry each other wonderfully.
The secret? Egg fried rice—instead of regular rice. Ten out of ten would revisit. No better way to play judge than to try it yourself.
I’ve been an Eastie since birth but more specifically a Tampines devotee. When the Instagram account @ilovetampines shared about the new Ye Ye De Pao Fan, translated to ‘the pao fan made by my grandfather’—I had to skate over to try it for myself.
I mean, look at the signboard—talk about pao fan paradise.
Literally spoilt for choice, I decided to opt for the Fried Fish Fillet Seafood Rice (S$5.80) with extra Handmade Prawn Balls (additional S$2). I mean, anything handmade screams authentic goodness to me.
To my surprise, the chunky fish fillet bites were flash-fried on the spot, giving it a crunchy golden exterior. The generous portion was served piping hot which I really appreciated. The lovely ceramic bowl also added a nostalgic touch, which made it extra homey, as if grandpa really made it!
The broth was peppery and sweet, which started my meal on a promising note. On one hand, the handmade prawn balls which I had high hopes for, weren’t much to shout about. On the other hand, the fried fish fillets were wickedly delightful and tasted just as good as they looked.
While it fell short on delivering the rich and savoury seafood stock, I’d give them the benefit of doubt as a new stall, and hope for more improvement in the next few months! As an avid Eastie, this would still make my list of comfort eats within a distance from home.
406 Tampines Street 41, #01-07, Singapore 520406
+65 9488 4077
Sat to Thu: 9.30am – 8.30pm
Closed on Fri
Within Maxwell Food Centre, you’ll find newly opened Ying Jie Seafood, a vibrantly coloured stall that’s eye-catching enough for you to stop in your tracks.
If you’re looking for some comfort food to indulge in during your lunch break, this is the spot. Find Pao Fan part of Ying Jie’s seafood ensemble, which comes served with either Scallops (S$7), Baby Lobster (S$10), or Prawns (S$7).
The broth their pao fan is served in is MSG-free and gives you a pleasant burst of savoury flavours with every mouthful. Plus, they source their fresh seafood locally, which elevates the regular dish into one that’s promises quality with every cent.
City dwellers, this is one spot worth braving the crowd for.
The largest Yunnan chain in Singapore is no other than Yun Nans. Many would know the restaurant is well-known for Yunnan cuisine, but I’m really here for just one dish.
Behold, luxury pao fan at its best. The Poached Seafood Rice in Prawn Broth (S$18.80) is simply legendary. The broth is deliciously rich; prawns oh-so succulent and puffed rice crisp as a chip. If it weren’t for the steep price tag, I’d visit or have this delivered every other week.
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