A trip to Toa Payoh to buy one of our favourite chicken rice turned out to be a sad occasion. The stall has closed. The owners have retired. We were 29 days late. Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball is no more.
I was devastated because it had been a part of my growing up years. It’s a deja vu feeling that I had when I learnt of the similar fate of a jiu her end chye stall off Syed Alwi Road and the lor mee stall in Toa Payoh years ago.
I never realised how blessed I was to be staying near Allenby Road where the original chicken rice ball stall was located in a big coffee shop.
Chicken rice can be found in many places in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, even in various parts of Australia. However, Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball is unique in that the chicken rice is shaped into a ball.
The rice ball used to be bigger when I was younger. While two is enough for the average person, I remember gobbling down seven at one sitting in my teenage days. Of course, my appetite was much better then with many calories burnt off quickly playing sports.
Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball moved out of Allenby Road to a standalone shop a few doors down along Jalan Besar. I remembered the joy of discovering that it was still around. And I wasn’t the only one thrilled because every time we went there on Sunday, the place was filled.
Soon, the shop became two — one along Foch Road and the other in Block 111 Toa Payoh. The Foch Road outlet seemed less crowded so we made it our go-to place for our fix. No crowd translates to guaranteed seats and faster service.
However, Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball consolidated to its Toa Payoh outlet in recent years but we weren’t complaining. After all, we still get to eat this whenever we want (OK, except when they close on Fridays).
I must say that though the chicken rice balls became smaller in latter years, the taste remained the same. The chicken also seemed to taste better as the years went by. My family could never get enough of it — whether there was just two, three or four of us, we would order a whole chicken.
With its demise, a part of me has disappeared into history. A precious and memorable part of my growing up years. Not just mine but my wife and children’s.
Malacca has chicken rice balls too but they are not the same. Theirs are much smaller, like fish balls. The taste is nice but different from what I’m accustomed to.
Oh well, lesson learnt. I will start patronising stalls that I grew up with more frequently, lest they disappear too.