Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice: All dishes at $2 for the past 18 years, never-ending queues

When I first heard the Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice story, I was incredulous. This stall was apparently selling a 3-dish economy rice set for S$2. We have done articles on cheap eats around Singapore before but no story quite comes close to this one.

xian jin - storefront

It’s one thing to start a new stall and decide, “Okay, I am going to sell dishes at S$2.” With that, you have a plan right from the start, which makes it somewhat manageable. In Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice’s case, the owner has kept the price the same for almost 20 years!

S$2 went a much longer way in 2005. It’s a mystery to me how the stall has managed to stay afloat as the cost-of-living skyrockets around us. This is truly the real Singaporean spirit in action.

I made my way down to see for myself at Block 216 Bedok Food Centre & Market. This hawker centre is clean and airy, making the eating (and waiting) experience more enjoyable.

xian ji - long queue

My colleague, Joshua and I got there at noon, meaning the lunch crowd was at its thickest. It was easy to identify Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice— there were 15 people in the queue when we arrived.

What I tried at Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice

xian jin - 3 dishes

You cannot come here and not try the cai png. The Economy Rice Set (S$2) comes with 2 meat dishes and 1 vegetable dish. I chose pork strips with long beans, 1 piece of fried chicken (that resembled karaage) and cabbage.

xian jin - pork and long beans

My long beans were reasonably crunchy and had a light covering of oil, just enough to emphasise the taste. The pork was flavourful and soft.

xian jin - variety of dishes

Overall, it was a slightly dry dish, though, and I wish I had added some gravy. For the price, the portion size is commendable and the taste is passable. 

I was less pleased with the cabbage— it was watery and had almost no taste. Because I tried the chicken last, I was surprised when I found that it was actually quite nice. If possible, I would opt for 2 servings of chicken and skip the cabbage.

Apart from the cai png, there are ready-made dishes, too. I was astounded by the sheer variety on offer.

xian jin - signboard

There was Bak Kut Teh, Seafood Soup, Sliced Fish Soup, Chicken Soup, Mixed Soup, Century Egg Minced Meat Porridge, Sliced Fish Cuttlefish Porridge, Shredded Chicken Porridge, Pig Intestine Porridge and more, all for S$2 each.

Whoa! I would not normally list so many items out but it just seems right to convey the actual variety available here. That isn’t even a complete list of all the options you have. 

You can add You Tiao, Pig’s Skin, Peanuts, Tau Pok, Salted Vegetables, Bee Hoon and Yellow Noodles (all at S$0.50 each). I skipped them to get a better idea of what the average patron to the stall would get.

We ordered the Bak Kut Teh and the Sliced Fish Soup.

xian jin - ba kut teh bowl

xian jin - ba kut teh closeup

The Bak Kut Teh was very basic and had almost none of the herbal aroma and flavour that is characteristic of the dish. But with 4 sizeable pieces of pork, this is a real bang for your 2 bucks.

xian jin - fish soup

I preferred the Sliced Fish Soup. I liked that the fish meat had the spring and texture that told of its freshness. There were about 15 small pieces of fish instead of the bigger slices you get elsewhere.

xian jin - fish and tofuu close up

There was also tofu, spinach, tomato, seaweed and spring onions, while the light and peppery soup made for a good base. This, I could finish in a minute (okay, 10).

Final thoughts

xian jin - economy rice and soups

Is the stall owner trying to earn a Michelin star? No, she was too shy to even have her picture taken. What she is doing is essentially community service.

xian jin - long queue

As you can tell from the photo of the queue, most of the patrons here are elderly. The hawker has said that she provides these low-cost meals to those in most need. And there are plenty of them. We took a table near the stall and there was a snaking queue from the time we sat till the time we left. So be prepared for a 30-minute queue, especially during lunch hour.

That said, it may take a lot for me to come queue here again. What I will do is sing its praises. I recommend you try it at least once— it’s not a celebration of the food but the food for thought.

Expected damage: S$2 – S$3 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 3.5 / 5

Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice

216 Bedok North Street 1, Bedok Food Centre and Market, #01-02, Singapore 460216

Our Rating 3.5/5

Xian Jin Mixed Vegetable Rice

216 Bedok North Street 1, Bedok Food Centre and Market, #01-02, Singapore 460216

Operating Hours: 8.15am - 2.30pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun

Operating Hours: 8.15am - 2.30pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun