Back in the 1950s and 60s, sweet and savoury glutinous rice (lor mai fan) were common breakfast staples which were sold by street hawkers in Singapore but in current times, the dishes are an increasing rarity.
Sweet glutinous rice was in particular so hard to find that by the 2000s, there were literally only a couple of stalls selling them, HarriAnns and Niu Che Shui Famous Glutinous Rice.
The dish threatened to become even more rare when Niu Che Sui Famous Glutinous Rice closed for good in 2012. The elderly men decided to retire when one of them had fallen ill.
That was when then-50-year-old Steven Lam came into the picture.
After being retrenched from the engineering manufacturing industry, Lam, who is Hakka, decided to continue the 40-year-old legacy of Niu Che Sui Famous Glutinous Rice.
He opened Millennium Glutinous Rice in 2013, selling the same sweet and savoury glutinous rice offerings that Niu Che Sui Famous Glutinous Rice was selling.
Both offerings are freshly made every day with the rice first steamed then fried with vegetable oil. The highlight is the texture of the rice itself — nicely sticky but not mushy, with a nice firm bounce to each rice grain.
The savoury glutinous rice ($1.50/2) — a Cantonese offering — is flavoured using just salt and comes with slightly firm stewed peanuts for protein and extra richness.
Lam used to put sliced mushrooms in the beginning but has since phased that out.
The sweet glutinous rice ($1.50/2) — a Teochew dish — has sugar and a hint of salt added for that savoury sweet effect. Depending on how sweet you like your foods, the sweetness levels can be cloyingly sweet or just right.
Fried onions are liberally poured on both sweet and salty glutinous rice and they are worth a mention.
It is fried by Lam every day and doesn’t have that overly crunchy, dry texture that factory made fried onions have. The fried onions have a distinct onion flavour and the texture crispy with a slight chew to them. Simply excellent.
You also have the option of combining both sweet and savoury into one plate. Eating both together and you get this unique sweet savoury flavour that some patrons prefer — they say that it nicely balances out both varieties.
Lam also sells chee cheong fun (rice rolls; $1.50/2) which are surprisingly well done despite the fact that they are factory-made.