If you’re the kind that’s pretty bo chup about what to have for lunch the next day, Bowl Chap sounds like the place for you. Conveniently located at Ayer Rajah Food Centre, Bowl Chap serves up modern, localised Japanese rice bowls, all for less than S$6!
Before you even step up to the counter, the sweet-faced couple is already full of smiles, ready to take your order. Opened by the young couple, Pei Sin and Jin Rong—who used to work a Tippling Club, Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant and even Casa Poncho—they’re one of the few millennials that are pushing their comfort zones to continue a hawker tradition.
They have six different options for you to choose from, each with their own unique flavour profile. There’s also a vegetarian option — Miso Glazed Tofu — so everyone gets to enjoy it too!
We ordered the Black Sweet Vinegar Pork Belly (S$5.80) and the Smoked Paprika Chicken Katsu (S$5.50)
Just one bite of the rice alone, and you know you’re in for a treat. Instead of the usual cheap jasmine rice variety, they use short grain rice that’s much fluffier and has an extremely satisfying chewy mouthfeel. It’s the perfect platform for the main dish to be served on, not just to present it better but to give a more complete eating experience.
Served with an onsen tamago, garlic cherry tomatoes, fresh greens and a nori cracker, you wouldn’t believe it’s so affordable. The cubed pork belly pieces had the perfect ratio of lean meat to fat, just enough to melt in your mouth but also with just enough chew.
The sauce is very much reminiscent of braised pork in a crockpot commonly served in dim sum restaurants, it’s sweet and tangy, slightly tart but still savoury in its own unique way.
The Smoked Paprika Chicken Katsu also didn’t disappoint. Freshly fried, the boneless chicken thigh was perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Though we already knew that the chicken was brined in their secret paprika solution prior to being cooked, it still took our breath away. It was beyond delicious — with a hint of umami while having a touch of spice to it.
Oddly enough, it was served with shredded omelette and sayur lodeh, but just one bite of it was enough for us to understand that it was a necessary and a robust combination. It’s a bit like a modern Hainanese curry rice, adding more flavour and moisture to the dish.
Unlike the stall’s name’s etymology, the two here are really more of a pair of bowl chaps rather than bo chup youngsters. Only a two-man show, we’d definitely recommend coming here earlier to snag a bowl, as lunch hours tend to see to a long queue.
#01-80 Ayer Rajah Food Centre
503 West Coast Drive
(Closed on Sundays)
Mon to Fri: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 4.30pm – 7.30pm
Sat: 11.30am – 2.30pm
Nearest Station: Clementi