Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice: Crispy pork belly & fragrant rice at ulu food centre

There are a couple of places in the West that remain veiled from the greater populace. As a Jurong resident myself, Teban Gardens is one such area that, up until recently, had been stowed in the back of my mind. 

Prior to making the trip down, I was only aware that it was in the vicinity of Pandan Gardens (its neighbouring sister town) and Pandan Reservoir. Teban Gardens Food Centre was built in 1976 to cater to residents of both towns as a smaller complex housing just 28 food stalls.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Teban Gardens Food Centre

When I first stepped off the bus, there was a quiet serenity to the surroundings despite a steady flow of traffic through the area. If I had to guess, its location bordering Clementi and Jurong with no nearby MRT station servicing the area is likely why it gives the impression of ulu-ness. Nevertheless, its peaceful vibes were a welcome change from the busier places I’ve been accustomed to visiting.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Teban Gardens Food Centre seats

There’s peaceful and then there’s dead. Arriving at 3pm had not been a great idea. Turns out, contrary to what online sources had listed, most stalls were already closed. The lingering gloom from a downpour was no better for my now sombre mood. 

Strolling through the hawker centre, I managed to pick out a stall to sate my furious hunger while also warming a battered soul.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Stallfront

Whereas others were along the spectrum of orange-yellow, the signage of Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice was entirely blue. The few hunks of meat still dangling behind the glass eventually drew me in.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Action zoom

The Teban Gardens stall is actually the second outlet of Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice. both sharing the same banner and stall number. According to the stallowner, the original at Serangoon was established a good 30 to 40 years ago. From a few minutes of scouring the Web, it seems there used to be some prestige attached to their name, though that has dissipated over the years.

What I tried at Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Roasted Chicken and Meat with Egg and Pig skin

Completely famished and sapped of spirit, the sight of a loaded plate of Roasted Chicken and Meat (S$7) with the addition of a Braised egg (S$0.70) and Braised Pig Skin (S$1) breathed life into me.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Pig skin

The first thing I reached for was the pig skin. It had been cut into smaller strips, not that I minded the thinner form factor. Each slice was slick from the marinade and not too heavy on the soya sauce front, which gave their firm gelatinous texture some spotlight. The springy feedback made it quite enjoyable to chew and a nice starter for the meal after some rice to buffer the fatty mouthfeel.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Display

Could you resist the sight of such perfectly rolled-up pig skin presented behind the glass? 

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Chicken

With 2 picks of protein, I opted to have the roasted chicken first. Because of the sheer amount of chicken rice I’ve had over the years, it takes a fair bit to strike in the impressive range for me. Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice didn’t pull it off for me. These were fairly juicy with a meaty mouthfeel but so is chicken at most other decent joints.

We tried Singapore’s best-rated chicken rice

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Roasted Chicken skin

There was some crisp and a slight brine to the chicken skin, which made the meat easy to down in big spoonfuls.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Rice

While the chicken was arguably average, the fragrant rice was delightfully moist with plenty of flavour. Some people prefer their rice less oily, but when the rest of the dish isn’t all that unhealthy, I’ll always argue there is room for compromise. I had not expected the rice to be such a heavy hitter, especially in comparison to the more average elements.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Rice sauce zoom

This was where I decided to add the dark soya sauce to the dish. With some messy mixing action, the rice took on a brown hue. The consistently soft grains received a delectable upgrade from this slightly sweeter sauce.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Soup

I finally moved to the soup, which was somehow still warm after I’d spent many minutes fawning over the plate of chicken rice. Some bias could have stemmed from the dreadful weather, but it was definitely a comforting bowl. 

After a few soothing sips, I had to ask the staff; yes, they do indeed add a pinch of MSG to the soup. Nothing wrong with that, I say. I’m always a proponent of flavour enhancers so long they’re used in moderation and don’t hijack the spotlight.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Pork Belly

I didn’t actually leave the pork belly slices for last, mind you. Some character growth was bound to happen after this many tastings. No, I’m mentioning these last because they were the best part of the dish.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Pork Belly zoom

The skin had an excellent crackly quality, further emboldened by seasoning that had infused it with a strong flavour of salt. What little scraps there were clinging to the individually sliced pork belly pieces packed quite the flavour. And let’s not forget the meat. Since Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice chops them into smaller pieces, even the tougher blocks weren’t too much of a hassle to chew.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Pork Belly dip

I dipped them in the chilli sauce for a miniaturised sweet and spicy bomb, though it over-delivered on the latter.

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Braised Egg

I was genuinely surprised by the braised egg. It was hard, but at its core, the yolk was not chalky. Instead, my spoon carved into it without the whole thing crumbling into yellow dust.

Final thoughts

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice - Overall

This was one hearty meal, and in the unlikeliest place where I would expect to have one. Teban Gardens might be a little out of the way for Westies but residents of the town (and the adjacent neighbourhood) are definitely not lacking when it comes to hawker food if Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice is anything to go by. 

Ultimately, would I return for another meal at Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice? If I’m cycling through the area, taking a break here wouldn’t be the worst idea. Otherwise, it’s hard to justify leaving the Jurong East area for something so out-of-the-way.

Expected damage: S$4 to S$8.70 per pax

Ming Kee Chicken Rice: Chilled chicken rice at one of SG’s oldest CR stalls in Bishan

Price: $

Our Rating: 3.5 / 5

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice

37 Teban Gardens Rd A, Teban Gardens Food Centre, #01-15, Singapore 600037

Price
Our Rating 3.5/5

Poh Poh Roasted Chicken Rice

37 Teban Gardens Rd A, Teban Gardens Food Centre, #01-15, Singapore 600037

Operating Hours: 10am - 7pm (Sat to Thu), Closed on Fri

Operating Hours: 10am - 7pm (Sat to Thu), Closed on Fri

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