Sabo Sia Review: Spinning Claypot Rice Stall In Yishun | Eatbook.sg
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Sabo Sia Review: Unique “Spinning” Claypot Rice In Yishun With Flavours Such As Mentaiko Salmon And More

22nd February 2023
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Sabo Sia has spinning claypot rice in Yishun

Sabo Sia flat lay

There’s lots of things to love about claypot rice: the crunchy rice at the bottom, the fragrant aroma that will make your mouth water, and the intense wok hei created from cooking the rice and meat in a claypot. So when the folks over at Buey Tahan See-Food opened Sabo Siafeaturing spinning claypots that are said to create better wok hei, I decided to make the trip to Yishun in search of a great claypot rice. 

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Food at Sabo Sia

Sabo Sia Claypot prep

Traditionally, claypots are slowly cooked over a charcoal fire, allowing the ingredients time to absorb the unique smoky notes that I feel makes charcoal-cooked food taste better. At Sabo Sia, the food is cooked over a gas stove, with a nozzle on the side that spits orange-blue jets of flame at the rotating claypots. 

The supposed science behind having spinning claypots was that the spinning would distribute heat more evenly around the pot for better wok hei. I’m no woman in STEM, but I took that to mean more crispy, charred rice around the sides and the bottom. 

Despite the loss of the charcoal aroma, watching them prepare the claypot rice from scratch and seeing the claypots slowly rotate on the stove made my dining companion and I hopeful that the increased wok hei of the dish would be delivered as promised. 

Sabo Sia chicken claypot rice

The first thing we ordered was their classic Claypot Chicken Rice ($6). What we got was a small claypot with a few chunks of chicken, halal lup cheong, vegetables, and a tiny bit of salted fish over pearl rice soaked in Sabo Sia’s secret sauce. Typically, I would drown the bowl in dark soya sauce before mixing it altogether, but I figured the best way to review this would be to have it without adding any extra condiments first. 

After mixing up the dish, we were disappointed to find that the secret sauce did little to provide the dish with any flavour. Perhaps there was the slightest hint of sesame oil and soya sauce, but neither of us found that it added any value to the chicken or the rice, other than colour. 

Unfortunately, it seemed like their gimmick of spinning claypots worked against them in this instance, as we found the crispy layer to be uneven around the pot and hard to come by. To our disappointment, there was no wok hei to be found either.

Sabo Sia claypot rice spoonful

Most of the rice that would have become the charred layer on the inside of the claypot was a little too chewy to give that satisfying crunch of biting into the crispy claypot rice. Perhaps our order needed to cook a little longer over the fire, as we did find some small sections of rice that were crunchy and had the char we were looking for. 

The chicken was tender and thankfully not dry, but suffered from the blandness of the marinade and secret sauce. In fact, most of the flavour in the dish really came from the small amounts of lup cheong and the salted fish. With the chicken and pearl rice being the main components of a claypot chicken rice, we felt that this was a miss. 

It did taste better once we added copious amounts of salty dark soya sauce to the mix, but as we were here for the claypot rice and not soya sauce, we still felt that the initial seasoning could be stronger.

Sabo Sia mentaiko salmon rice

We had higher hopes for the Claypot Salmon Rice ($8), given that Sabo Sia was started by Buey Tahan See-Food. We also ordered Mentaiko Sauce and a Harukuju Egg (+$3) as add-ons to the dish. Pink mentaiko sauce was generously drizzled over the large salmon fillet and the halved egg, before being seared with a blowtorch.

Sabo Sia eggs

Like the chicken claypot rice, the secret sauce added to the pearl rice did little to elevate the dish, but the creamy mentaiko sauce provided an umami kick that complemented the fresh salmon and led us to prefer this dish over the classic chicken. We wished it could be ordered separately from the Harujuku egg that came nearly hard-boiled and also needed more time soaking in the marinade. 

Sabo Sia salmon fillet

As a dish, the claypot salmon rice would have made a great salmon donburi, but the lack of wok hei or crispy rice made it hard for us to call it a claypot rice dish, other than the claypot it was cooked and presented in. 

Sabo Sia curry chicken

Finally, we ordered a Claypot Curry Chicken ($6) to share between the two of us. This was the best of the three dishes we ordered at Sabo Sia, and spent the longest time on the stove. When we collected it from the stall, the red-orange gravy was still bubbling and piping hot. Still, like the rest of the dishes it probably needed to cook a little longer, as we found that the potatoes were too firm, and not as soft as you’d want in a curry dish. 

Sabo Sia curry chicken meat

The chicken in the curry was better off than their claypot counterpart, benefitting from the flavour of the curry. Cut into small, manageable chunks that verged on being tender, I felt that its texture and flavour could improve by leaving it to simmer in the curry at least for a couple more minutes.

Sabo Sia Curry

The thin curry itself was sweet and spicy, and we enjoyed mixing it into the claypot rice and infusing some stronger flavours into our meal. While I felt that it was fine other than being a little too salty for my taste, my companion felt that the coconut milk was too overpowering in the mixture. We chalked it up to a matter of taste and preference.

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Ambience at Sabo Sia

Sabo Sia ambience

Located in a swanky Kedai Kopi kopitiam across from Yishun Bus Interchange, Sabo Sia is also an eight-minute walk from Yishun MRT Station. The place was decently crowded when we arrived around 1pm, though we had no issues finding a seat.

Sabo Sia storefront

Once inside the kopitiam, finding Sabo Sia is easy, thanks to the large neon signs on the storefront. The claypots are cooked behind a glass window, where you can watch as your claypot is prepared and set on the spinning stove. On average, it took about 10 to 15 minutes for our food to be done, though they have a helpful diagram explaining the wait times depending on the number of claypots currently being made. 

The verdict

Aside from the novelty of watching the claypots spin on the stove, both me and my companion left disappointed with our meal. We felt that many of the elements that make up a claypot rice were missing, especially the wok hei that was supposed to be even stronger in Sabo Sia’s rendition. At the end of the day, the other stalls in the halal-friendly kopitiam are all offering various unique dishes and cuisines at similar prices, so Sabo Sia won’t be your only option available in the area.

If you are looking for good claypot rice with lots of wok hei, read our review of Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice in Chinatown that’s been cooking claypot rice over a traditional charcoal fire for the past 40 years. We also have a list of the best claypot rice around Singapore, including some that have been recognised on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list!

Address: 925 Yishun Central 1, #01-211, Kedai Kopi, Singapore 760925
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 9pm
Tel: 8612 2166
Website
Sabo Sia is a halal-certified eatery.

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Photos taken by Tan Zi Hui.
This was an independent visit by Eatbook.sg

Sabo Sia Review: Spinning Mentaiko Salmon Claypot Rice And More In Yishun
  • 5.5/10
    Sabo Sia Review: Spinning Mentaiko Salmon Claypot Rice And More In Yishun - 5.5/10
5.5/10

Summary

Pros

– The salmon was fresh
– Food arrived faster than expected
– Convenient location

Cons

– All dishes needed more time over the fire
– Claypot rice dishes needed more seasoning
– Lack of wok hei and crispy rice bits

Recommended Dishes: Curry Chicken Claypot ($6) 

Opening hours: Daily 11am to 9pm

Address: 925 Yishun Central 1, #01-211, Kedai Kopi, Singapore 760925

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