Sabo Sia: Spinning smoky claypots of chicken rice & torched mentaiko salmon at Yishun kopitiam
I’ve come to realise that Claypot rice is a popular food-of-choice amongst older folks as it’s a very traditional dish. I recently travelled to Kedai…
I’ve come to realise that Claypot rice is a popular food-of-choice amongst older folks as it’s a very traditional dish. I recently travelled to Kedai Kopi coffeeshop at Yishun where Sabo Sia is located. It’s a brand new concept by Buey Tahan See-Food, offering different variations of claypot rice— 10 to be exact!
Sabo Sia is Muslim-friendly and they’re in the midst of applying for Halal-certification— good news for our Muslim friends!
What’s cool about this store is that you can spot special contraptions that are built above their stovetops, which allow their claypots to spin in circles while it cooks. And you can observe this magic taking place through the stall’s large glass windows.
Everything is cooked from scratch and the high heat resistance of the claypots allows the rice and ingredients to be cooked thoroughly. This method retains all the nutrients and flavours of the food.
Special concocted sauces are added to the rice and ingredients to enhance the dishes. I had a field day watching the whole process— I’ve never witnessed anything like it!
What I tried at Sabo Sia
I began with the most basic dish of all, the Claypot Chicken Rice (S$6). The piping-hot claypot was filled with a bed of golden-hued pearl rice, coloured by their secret gravy. There were pieces of chicken, slices of lup cheong, salted fish bits, and green vegetables resting on top.
Just like how I’d eat chicken rice, I helped myself with their dark soya sauce displayed at the stall front. I proceeded to slather the jet-black viscous liquid all over my bowl of Claypot Chicken Rice. Mix, mix, mix and voila— makeover complete.
All the ingredients had magically transformed into a va-va-voom rich chocolatey tone which made its outlook much more drool-worthy. I couldn’t wait to start digging in!
Sabo Sia uses pearl rice, which has a softer and more starchy texture. The rice tasted as if it’d been injected with a concentrated smokey serum, bombarding my tastebuds with a satisfying charred tang.
The pieces of chicken were tender and the thin slices of lup cheong gave mini bursts of sweet-savoury surprises. The green vegetables were not overcooked, retaining some elements of crunchiness.
I also loved the salty fish bits which were an added bonus to the multi-dimensional experience I got from this dish.
My only gripe would be the lack of sesame oil which would’ve uplifted the whole dish even more— what a pity.
What blew me and my dining partner’s mind was the homemade belacan chilli. It had the perfect balance of zesty and savoury flavours, followed by a subtle umami kiss of the fermented belacan coming through at the end.
Dip your meat or pour it all over your rice— it goes well with anything!
The slightly burnt rice which stuck at the bottom of the claypot had formed a delectable crispy crust. I happily wolfed it down like a side snack… om nom nom nom!
I then moved on to the Double Up Claypot Rice (S$9.90) and opted for an add-on of Mentaiko Mayo & Hanjuku Egg (+S$3). You get a choice of 2 meats and I selected salmon and beef.
Resting atop the pearl rice base were pieces of beef, a whole salmon fillet, a lava egg cut in half, green veggies, slices of lup cheong and bits of salted fish. A luscious mentaiko mayo was artfully drizzled on top, and torched to perfection.
This is definitely an unorthodox dish, and traditionalists would probably ring the police upon seeing this creation.
The beef slices were soft and contained bits of velvety fat which dissolved in my mouth seamlessly.
After mixing up everything, the mentaiko mayo managed to coat each grain of rice. This resulted in an extra rich and creamy taste, and the lava egg with its runny yolk just made everything more shiok.
The salmon fillet was cooked just right and tasted fresh. Although everything tasted good, the lack of charred smokiness (unlike the previous dish) in the rice slightly dampened the whole experience— it would’ve been perfect otherwise.
I had a satisfying meal at Sabo Sia, and was on the verge of having a food coma after finishing both kinds of claypot rice.
While I’m happy to see new innovative spins on old-school dishes, I appreciate the fact that Sabo Sia offers traditional dishes too.
If you’re in Yishun shopping the day away at Northpoint City, why not head down to Kedai Kopi coffeeshop, and try Sabo Sia for yourself?
Will you stick to the traditional or discover something new and modern? I’ll leave it to you to decide when you’re there. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Expected damage: S$6 – S$12.90 per pax
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