Goodbye, chicken rice ball

Good Year chicken rice ball banner
Photo from Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball Facebook page.

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.

Good Year close post.jpgI 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.



Top End chicken rice a contender for best Down Under

IMG_20190209_205445_558.jpgBorn and bred in Singapore, I have a biase when it comes to chicken rice, or food for that matter. I’ve yet to taste a chicken rice outside the country, aside from Malaysia, that is good enough for me. Even those recommended by well-thinking friends in their home countries have fallen short.

I’ve tried chicken rice in a few places in Australia, mainly in Sydney, and found them to be different from my preferred taste.

Hence, I was pleasantly surprised when I ate at an Asian restaurant in Darwin. Based on my past experience, I wasn’t expecting much other than to have an Asian meal to fill my stomach on a hot summer day.

On the menu at Fusion Cafe Darwin was chicken rice. It was pricey too at A$17. My wife and I decided to order one portion since she wasn’t really hungry.

The service was excellent was the staff (who looks like she could be the boss) was sensitive to our needs. She asked if we wanted an additional plate to share the rice and even offered us another bowl of soup.

At first glance, the chicken rice’s presentation was nothing to shout about. It looks like what we get from our local hawker centres. The plate came with a generous portion of chicken and char siew.

Even when we divided the food between us, both of us had more than enough.

The chicken was boiled and a little hard, probably because it had been cooked earlier. But, it’s not unlike what we’ve tasted elsewhere in Australia.

The char siew, sliced in thicker chunks than back home, is tasty.

Accompanying the main course was a dip comprising sambal chilli and chicken rice chilli. The mix of spiciness and sourness make for an interesting taste which went well with the meats.

I loved the salted vegetable soup which was rich and tasty.

What is chicken rice without the rice? Made from broken rice grain (which is my rice of choice from chicken rice), it was flavourful and reminded me of home. It’s that good. Now, Australia can claim to have at least one chicken rice that ticks the right boxes for me.

If you happen to be at the Top End, do check out Fusion Cafe Darwin at Shop 18, 356 Bagot Rd, Millner.