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.



Chilled coconut pudding makes a sweet ending

Swee Choon.jpgSwee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant is always a hive of activities whenever we visit. Highly popular for its tim sum, there is a constant stream of hungry customers.

Opened in 1992, the restaurant occupies several units along Jalan Besar, from 183 to 191.

Over the years, the queuing system has improved tremendously with the adoption of technology, making the wait more pleasant.

There are so many favourites on my family’s list — siew mai, har gao, char siew bao, Shanghai xiao long bao, and chilled chicken in spicy bean paste. My personal must-eat item is shrimp hor fun in creamy egg sauce though I’m not a shrimp person. That’s why we order the chilled chicken as a side. The hor fun is simply heavenly and topped by an egg sauce that’s sweet and saltish.

Our favourite list keeps growing with each visit. Somehow, we always end up trying something new.

And I’m glad we did because during my most recent visit, I decide to try a dessert for the first time.

Chilled coconut custard.jpg

I opted for the chilled coconut pudding and it was ooohhh, so good! The dessert comprised pudding made from coconut juice and placed in a young Thai coconut.

The pudding was soft, gel-like and so fragrant and tasty. Each spoonful was a sheer delight with the coolness complementing all the other food that were consumed over dinner.

There wasn’t much meat in the coconut but the little that I had was soft and tender.

This chilled coconut pudding certainly makes a perfectly sweet ending to a great dinner.

If you’re planning to head to the restaurant, do note that payment is only via cash or NETS only.