Popular 43 year-old hawker stall, Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice, closes permanently due to lack of manpower

The closure of hawker stalls has become common news. This time, Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice at Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre— the superior underdog of claypot rice— has closed.

Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice 1

As of 19 Mar 2023, the lady boss that helmed the store has closed her store to begin her retirement. She will be moving back to Hong Kong, where she originally came from.

If you’re a claypot rice fan, you’ll definitely be aware of the 2 prominent stalls in Chinatown Complex— Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice and Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice. Many usually struggle to decide between the 2 because of how good these 2 options are. However, despite the former being more recognised with its Michelin Bib Gourmand, Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice still remains a superior underdog that serves a good bowl of claypot rice as well.

Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice 2

What differentiates the 2 notable stalls is how they are managed. Unlike Lian He Ben Ji, Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice is single-handedly run by an elderly lady. To handle everything on your own— at that age— is extremely commendable, but undeniably difficult. She is still healthy and strong, but it is only normal for her premature retirement to come sooner or later, as she must be tired out mending everything on her own.

One of the veterans in the food industry spoke out in a Facebook post, stating that our hawker is “force(d) to retire”. She works alone, but it is difficult to get a stall assistant in Singapore as not many would like to be working in a hawker centre. Furthermore, Singaporeans are said to be “hard to employ” due to having a “boss attitude, and quit easily”.

He also said that the lack of manpower in hawkers have been the cause of driving local flavours and years of heritage out the door. This sheds light on the underlining question: Will our rapid modernisation kill Singapore’s food history?

Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice 4
Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice 3

The food offerings here start from the price of S$10. For that amount, you can choose from 3 different types of variety, such as a mixture of chicken, bacon, lap cheong, and salted fish. Most people enjoy the tender pieces of chicken the best.

Further, what’s better than the burnt bits of rice at the corner of the claypot that taste like chips in your rice? Yum.

The closure of hawkers are definitely saddening, but on a lighter note, we wish the owner of Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice a healthy and happy retirement.

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