Rice and seafood come in a multitude of combinations, but one of our favourites has to be Pao Fan, which brings us to these best bowls in Singapore.
Not to be confused with your regular porridge, Pao Fan quite literally means steeped rice — the former has grains the grains directly cooked and served in water or stock, while the rice grains in the latter are first steamed before it’s drowned in a separate broth and topped with puffed rice.
The dish, which gained popularity over last the couple of years, has seen it being served at a number of upscale locations, but if you’re looking for wallet-friendly options that are just as delicious, we’ve got you covered. Besides, many of them have been opened by ex-chefs of popular Chinese restaurants around the island, so you can be assured that quality won’t be compromised.
Read on for the full list.
Where to find the best bowls of Pao fan in Singapore:
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Those who enjoy more intense flavours in their meals will enjoy the offerings at King of Pao Fan. The stall, helmed by a former Raffles Hotel chef, opened their flagship store in Bugis before expanding to a total of three outlets across the island — namely in Holland Drive, Queen Street and Lavender Street. Each bowl carries a distinctive addition of prawn oil added in the broth for a stronger kick, elevated only by the fried egg floss and toasted rice grains. It can steer a little oilier for items like the Crispy Fried Fish Pao Fan, so we suggest ordering the Sliced Fish Pao Fan or the LaLa Pao Fan for something a tad more balanced.
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Pao Fan specialty joint Chao Ting is a superb option if you’re in the CBD area and looking for a quick, fuss-free meal that’s both filling and comforting at the same time. The menu only plays host to three items: King Prawn Pao Fan, Sliced Fish Pao Fan and Fried Fish Pao Fan, each one swaddled with a broth that’s been cooked for over five hours with prawn shells, fish bones, pork bones and chicken bones. Want to elevate your meal with a little crunch? Order a some fried fish skin to go with your bowl.
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While you’ll be able to get your Seafood Pao Fan fix at Pao Fan Paradise, diners can also get a taste of land-focused bowls like the White Pepper Pork Stomach Pao Fan and Chicken Hotpot Pao Fan at the Rowell Road. The bowls are served in sharing portions (aka bring a couple more friends) but if you head to the Rowell Road outlet, single-portion bowls are available too.
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The generous amount of ingredients per serving at San Pin Pao Fan is enough to have us heading back to the joint time and time again. The stall, run by a former Jumbo Seafood chef, focuses on crafting an umami-filled broth that’s big on flavour but won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. Plus points to de-shelled prawns in the bowl because we’re too lazy to peel the crustaceans on most days.
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We enjoy the flavourful, clean broth from Le Kitchen Seafood Pao Fan, and the seafood Pao Fan on the menu comes packed with large de-shelled prawns, fresh clams, and fish slices. Can’t decide on sliced or fried fish? Get the Duo Fish Pao Fan for the best of both worlds or if you’re feeling particularly generous, there’s a Lobster Pao Fan on the menu too.
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Famous Pao Fan, opened by local celebrity Chew Chor Meng, has been gaining traction since its opening. Truth be told, while we haven’t tried it in person just yet (its website also states that they’ve decided to close the physical store to focus on group buys and take away orders), we think the Pao Fan experience isn’t lost even at home. Each portion of rice is vacuumed sealed, and diners get to pour in the soup into the self-heating bowls on their own, before adding the crispy rice grains on top for the final touch. Delicious, piping hot and extra comfortable in our PJs.
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Yu Huang Premium Seafood Soup is opened by the former Head Chef of Canton Paradise. Here, prices run a little steeper than the usual, but you can be assured that what you’re paying for is quality ingredients and the experience and expertise behind the stove. The addictive broth itself is a five-hour simmer of pig bones, old hens and dried scallops with an added depth of flavour from dried sole fish and minced pork.
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Chef Wai’s Poached Rice may be a newer contender compared to most stalls on the list, but it has nonetheless won our favour with their comforting bowls of Pao Fan. The thicker broth is straddles the sweet-savoury flavour profile with ease, and the fried egg floss and crispy rice is also served separately to prevent it from getting soggy — add it slowly into your meal as you go along to retain its crunch. Our personal favourite? The Emperor Mixed Seafood Poached Rice.