The newest tenant at Ayer Rajah Food Centre is a Japanese rice bowl stall opened by a young couple, one of whom interned at Tippling Club after culinary studies in At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. Bowl chap, a play on the Hokkian phrase “bo chup“, which means “can’t be bothered”, is the result of the duo’s attempt to branch out with their own business. Unglamorous the job may be (for millennials, especially) — but they do it all, from conceptualizing the recipes to washing the dishes.
On the menu, just five types of donburis are featured, all decently priced at under $6 each. Sure beats those $10-$15 “premium” grain bowls that are ubiquitous in the CBD. We like that the quality doesn’t get downgraded just because the prices are kept low: they use Japanese koshihikari rice, along with a topping of paprika- or seaweed-flavored fried popiah skin for crunch, and each order comes with a bowl of seaweed miso soup.
If you arrive undecided, the chicken karaage with tonkatsu mayo ($4.90) is a safe bet, thanks to the favorable reviews it’s been getting. Think crispy chicken thigh chunks fragrant with garlic and ginger, a gooey onsen egg, leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, and a huge piece of fried popiah skin for that picture-worthy presentation.
Otherwise, there’s the smoked paprika chicken katsu ($5.50) served with omelette strips and sayur lodeh (coconut milk veggie soup), five spice apple braised pork belly ($5.80, the chef’s homage to his late father), and black sweet vinegar pork belly ($5.80). Those skipping meat for the day can try the miso glazed tofu ($4.90) bowl of tau pok, black fungus, carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and soy sauce.
The place is a tad inaccessible since it’s not located relatively near any MRT station, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood, it’s a solid spot for affordable fare.
Bowl Chap is at #01-80 Ayer Rajah Food Centre, 503 West Coast Dr.
Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-7:30pm.