With the chilly sweater weather in Singapore these past few weeks, the cravings for something warm and soupy to tide us over have definitely increased. While chicken soup, stews and hotpots certain hit the spot, another comforting option you may want to consider is pao fan.
Pao fan is a dish that's often confused with porridge., but here's how to tell the difference. The former features steamed rice doused in a piping hot broth and finished off with a scattering of crispy rice, while the latter is rice grains simmered in liquid and cooked.
It's not a new dish by any means but it's usually only found on the menus of Chinese restaurants. That is until recently, with several former restaurant chefs setting up hawker stalls to bring this dish to the masses, and at more affordable prices. No more needing to step into fancy restaurants just to try pao fan.
San Pin Pao Fan
After leaving Jumbo Seafood Group, Chef Ng Chong Lay decided to be his own boss and set up San Pin Pao Fan at China Square Food Centre. If you're worried that the taste might be different if he's not the one manning the stove, he's supported by two ex-Jumbo chefs who have worked closely with him.
The stall's simple menu has six variations of pao fan to choose from, including Fresh Prawn Pao Fan and Fried Sliced Fish Pao Fan. Can't decide which one to have? Opt for the Mixed Pao Fan which has a little bit of everything on the menu in it.
Prices range from $6 to $7.
Address: 51 Telok Ayer Street, China Square Food Centre, #01-03, Singapore 048441
Mun's Seafood Pao Fan
Chef Chan How Mun spent three decades cooking at popular Chinese restaurants such as Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant at Carlton Hotel and Feng Shui Inn and Prosperity Court at Resorts World Sentosa.
When the pandemic hit, he decided to strike out on his own and set up his own F&B stall at Ghim Moh kopitiam. Harnessing his familiarity with making broths, he decided to serve an affordable version pao fan, according to an 8 Days report. At his stall, you'll find just three pao fan menu items, though he also offers noodle dishes.
While most pao fans in the market contain seafood, Chan eschews the norm to offer fishball pork and mixed pork option. But his personal recommendation is the Seafood Pao Fan that comes with a scallop, prawns, clams and fish slices.
Prices range from $4.50 to $6.90
Address: 25 Ghim Moh Link, #01-01, Singapore 270025
King of Pao Fan
Hidden away in a kopitiam near Bugis+ Mall is King of Pao Fan, a joint venture between four men who have had plenty of experience in the F&B industry, including Lee Hock Pin, who was a chef at Yì by Jereme Leung at Raffles Hotel.
Despite keeping prices pocket friendly, they have not compromised on the quality of flavours of what they offer, sourcing restaurant-standard ingredients for their dishes.
They have quite an extensive menu with seven variations of pao fan. The cheapest option is the Clams Pao Fan that goes for $4.50 a bowl, while the Half Lobster Pao Fan is the priciest menu item at $18. The menu also includes Seafood Pao Fan, Fresh Prawn Pao Fan and Sliced Fish Pao Fan.
Prices range from $4.50 to $18.
Address: 269B Queen Street #01-237 Stall 4, Cheng Yan Court, Singapore 180269