Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice 永年瓦煲鸡饭: Hidden Malaysia-Style Claypot Rice in Bukit Merah

It’s not often that I go out of my way for Claypot Rice, but hearing that Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice serves it purely traditional piqued my interest enough to make a rare exception.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Exterior

It turned out to be located in Rong Fa Food Hut, a coffeeshop within an industrial building in Bukit Merah. Somehow, this important detail had been left out of every search result. In fact, the coffeeshop doesn’t turn up even when specifically searching for ‘Rong Fa Food Hut’. Digitally, this place was thoroughly hidden.

Late lunch hour traffic looked dreary with seats barely reaching half occupancy.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Interior

Further in, we finally found Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice in a quiet corner. Oddly endearing was an adjacent sign pointing right at the stall.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Storefront

Manning the stall alone was Reiko, who started the business in 2017 at Clementi after finding Singapore’s claypot rice lacking in the authentic taste she was accustomed to. 

As our orders cooked, she explained that besides unsustainable rent, the stall’s popularity had been chipping away at her health since she was running it solo. Shifting to Henderson Road made for a good change of pace.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Cooking

Adhering to the traditional Malaysian style of Claypot Rice requires the use of different ingredients and cooking utensils. The claypots used are from Taiping, her hometown in Malaysia, while the soya sauce is specially imported from Hong Kong. 

This one-person operation requires an efficient, streamlined cooking process. Reiko prepares ingredients in each claypot well before orders are made so they can be served with little delay. 

What I tried at Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Claypot Chicken Rice

The titular Claypot Chicken Rice (S$7.30) was administered with a plentiful dose of soya sauce right before serving.

There was another detail that had my approval – no chai sim. No detestable vegetables in the way of me and a good meal.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Chicken

The chicken had surrendered its natural colours to the marinade and, drizzled with jet-black soya sauce, the scent was inviting. Each piece was juicy and I found the sweetness didn’t linger enough to usurp other flavours. While undeniably boney, the meat didn’t offer much resistance, making it remarkably easy to spit out the rest.

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Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Spoon

Unlike the chicken, the lap cheong were dense in calories, practically bursting with oil when I bit into them. It’s hard not to like something that’s so unabashedly sweet and sinful. 

Eating our way through the layers of soft, flavourful rice, we began unearthing blackened rice. I usually have no trouble getting to the crusty bottom, but those downright charred bits made it hard to appreciate the rest of the dish. Ever the gentleman, I left the rest of the dish for my dining partner.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Claypot Noodles

The Claypot Noodles (S$7.30) had a deep herbal scent wholly distinct from the rice. Starting with the soup felt like a slap to my tastebuds. Unlike the flavours of the claypot rice, this was more unrestrained. 

It takes a combination of no less than 10 ingredients for the soup to run the gamut of savoury, sweet and bitter along your tongue. The dried red chillies added the faintest hints of spice on top of the soup’s peppery taste to lengthen the zing. 

The garnishing of fried shallots and spring onions added a fair bit of colour to the dreary brown, but the former quickly lost its crispiness to the soup.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Chicken Noodle closeup

For all its richness, the soup was only slightly viscous, as evident from the light sheen on the chicken. A lengthened simmer in the claypot had further reduced the chicken’s integrity and made them awfully tender. Pop one into your mouth and a few seconds later, nothing but bone is left. 

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Sauce dip

The sauce slashed right through everything with its tang before ebbing away to reveal some sweetness.

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - Noodles

Delightfully springy in texture – that was all the yee mee needed to be for the dish to come together. Disappointingly, I found that there were much less noodles than rice.

Final thoughts

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice - both claypots

The Claypot Noodles packed a mean punch which I heavily favoured over the Claypot Rice, though the former wasn’t as satiating. As for the rice, it got a little too charred at the bottom for my liking, and there were speckles where the flavours had failed to reach. 

Was it still delectable? Without a doubt. Overall, the big eater in me would add rice or noodles (S$1) on a return visit and on a particularly ravenous day, an entire Claypot Chicken (S$7.30).

It’s a pity Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice receives such little patronage, but with Bukit Merah Central Food Centre barely 5 minutes away and the coffeeshop’s nonexistent online presence, I can totally see why.

Expected Damage: S$7 – S$8 per pax

Order Delivery: Deliveroo

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice 永年瓦煲鸡饭

201 Henderson Road, Apex@Henderson, #01-18, Singapore 159545

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice 永年瓦煲鸡饭

201 Henderson Road, Apex@Henderson, #01-18, Singapore 159545

Telephone: +65 8133 0032
Operating Hours: 10am - 3pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun
Telephone: +65 8133 0032

Operating Hours: 10am - 3pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun

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