Hainan Chicken Rice Balls: Necessary Pilgrimage for any Chicken Rice Fan

Chicken Rice Ball 30 cents each

I have blogged almost forty chicken rice stalls in Singapore and I must say that it is getting harder to find one that can stand out from among the rest. I must say that there are many good Chicken Rice Stalls in Singapore and no one can dispute that we are the Chicken Rice capital of the World!

I got very excited when I saw this particular stall being featured on Foodage. What makes this stall different is not just that they serve Chicken Rice balls, but the owner of this 3rd generation stall is still doing a lot of things in a traditional way.

Garlic and Ginger fried Salt used to cook the Rice

Take the way he cooks the rice for instance. He spends 2 hours frying Sea Salt with garlic and ginger to produce this wonderfully smokey, garlicky salt which is used to add to chicken stock when he cooks the rice. He insists on still using a big pot to cook the rice instead of a rice cooker as he feels that the rice still tastes better that way. Nowadays, he uses gas, but in the past, he used to cook the rice over charcoal which was even better.

The rice comes out very fluffy and fragrant and are molded into rice balls by hand when it is still hot. Chicken Rice Balls were traditionally the picnic food for the Hainanese when they had to travel to the hills during the Ching Ming festival. They were not used as offerings, but rather, just a convenient way of packing the rice for easy eating.

The balls are molded tight enough such that they can literally bounce when thrown into the rice warmer! The molding helps to change the texture of the rice, so it is quite different from the usual chicken rice. The rice is very good and you will be able to detect the smokey salt flavour at the end after you swallow. If you love Chicken Rice, then you really do need to give these rice balls a try! 4.5/5

Chicken with Braised Egg

I think the Chicken is done very well but it’s quite standard except for the fact that he likes to drizzle Dark Soy Sauce over the chicken instead of the light soy sauce gravy that most other stall uses. The items that really do stand out are the braised eggs. As you can see from the photo, the eggs have been braised overnight such that the braising sauce has penetrated right through into the yolk. Very impressive indeed.

Braised Pork $3

I know this is a Chicken Rice stall, but the star of the show is not the Chicken but rather, the braised pork. The Boss Owner tells me that his pork goes through three stages of cooking. They are first steamed till they are about 80% cooked. Then they are fried in oil and garlic to extract the excess oil before finally being slow cooked in the braising sauce for hours! This really is a braised pork to savour. The skin and fats have been cooked till they have the texture of cold butter and the flavours of the braising sauce has penetrated all the way through. If you do have to conserve some calories to enjoy the pork, do it! It’s so good, it really is a sin not to eat the fat! 4.6/5


I think the rice balls are a novelty and I would still prefer to enjoy the excellent rice fluffy and hot. This is a chicken rice with a lot of heart and soul but it is the braised pork that makes me yearn for a return visit soon.

Hainan Chicken Rice Ball

Shin Boon Hwa Food Centre 43 Jalan Besar (Dickson Road)
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Opening hours:

Daily: 8:30 AM to 9:30 PM

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Update @ 6 Sep 2015: this stall is closed every alternate Wed. Hp 91604964.

I assume they are. I haven’t heard of them closing.

[…] the rice is rolled into balls so that they can be easily eaten when the family goes to pay respects to their ancestors during the Ching Ming festival.  As such, I have always found them to be a little awkward to eat on a plate with utensils.  The […]

Yes, they are aren’t they. I remember eating rice balls as a child when mom makes it so it is fun to eat and handy during picnics too.

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