What makes a good claypot rice?

It’s easy to put all the ingredients in the said claypot without much thought — as long as the bottom turns black and the rice is charred enough, it seems like that’ll seal the deal for many.

Yet, a truly authentic bowl of claypot rice requires the attention to a multitude of fine details. The amount of time the claypot sits on the charcoal stove and precise control of the fire are just some of the most important things to look out for to create a smokey rice bottom that’s still piping hot with tender chicken chunks.

Before you head to the locales on this, you’d have to be warned: each serving is made after you send in your order, so a good 30 to 40-minute wait isn’t unusual during peak hours. We recommend bringing a friend or two along to pass the time.

Read on to find out where you can get the best claypot rice in Singapore.

(Hero and featured image credit: M. W on Unsplash)

Geylang Claypot Rice

Unlike its namesake, Geylang Claypot Rice is not located in Geylang. In fact, they’ve moved from a humble coffeeshop to a swanky new spot along Beach Road, complete with air conditioning. Geylang Claypot Rice was founded by Mr Ng Kim Hock (better known as ‘Ah Tiam’) more than 30 years ago. Its signature claypot rice is slow-cooked to order over charcoal for that beautiful smokey flavour, complete with traditional toppings like chicken, Chinese sausage, waxed meat and salted fish over rice.

If you’re looking for a bit more variety, there is a good selection of local “Tze Char” side dishes like the Tofu with Prawns and the French Bean with Shrimps to choose from.

Yew Chuan Claypot Rice

Easties will be familiar with Yew Chuan Claypot Rice, an unassuming stall nestled in the discreet Golden Mile Food Centre. The diner only serves one dish: the Claypot Chicken Rice, with four different price tags to indicate the sizes. Here, each grain of rice comes with a distant char to it, making it perfect for those are fans of the smokey aroma. Despite the mildly burnt textures of the rice, the chicken remains incredibly tender and chewy to the bite. Just a note — the claypot rice here comes pre-drizzled with black sauce, but diners can choose to add on more should they want to.

(Image credit: @onthefoodchase via Instagram)

Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice

Cooked to order over a hot charcoal stove, Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice is the place to head to if you’re craving a piping hot bowl of well-seasoned claypot rice in the Chinatown area. There are three items on the menu: mixed rice, sausage rice (waxed sausage) and chicken rice. The generous portions are one to look out for: think lightly seasoned, succulent pieces of chicken (watch out for bones!), gorgeous slices of assorted waxed sausage and golden chunks of salted fish. Wash it all down with a serving of homemade Chinese soup and you’re good to go.

(Image credit: @eaterries via Instagram)

Yong Nian Claypot Chicken Rice

Yong Nian may be a relatively newer listing compared to the other selections here, but this undisclosed spot, now located at Bukit Merah, serves a mean bowl of Malaysian-styled claypot rice. The secret to their popularity? A special concoction of sauce that’s added to the rice upon ordering. The best part? The stall doesn’t have bowls or plates to scoop your rice out onto — you’ll have to make do with eating it straight from the claypot for that ultimate moreish experience.

(Image credit: @tjadai via Instagram)

Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice

Those seeking a taste of nostalgia shouldn’t give Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice a miss. With recipes dating back to the 1980s, they’ve been winning diners time and time again with their authentic bowls of claypot rice, with each claypot cooked to order. Expect slightly burnt rice tossed in wafting aromas of salty waxed sausage and a marinade that’ll keep you coming back for more. Besides the claypot rice, the stall is also famous for the traditional KL-styled San Lao Bee Hoon that’s flattened with a crispy top and served with a trove of ingredients at the bottom.

(Image credit: @mandameus via Instagram)

Jocelyn Tan
Jocelyn Tan is a travel and design writer. She's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history. When she actually gets to travel, you can find her attempting to stuff her entire wardrobe into her luggage. Yes, she's a chronic over-packer.