New Station Rice Bar’s spirited female chef-owner serves up local cuisine with her own twist

By Sarah Chua May 10, 2024
New Station Rice Bar’s spirited female chef-owner serves up local cuisine with her own twist
Photos: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere
  • Chloe Tan, daughter of the owners of New Station Snack Bar, has started her own rice-focused casual eatery.
  • Named after her parents’ shop, Chloe’s New Station Rice Bar features familiar favourites such as salted egg pork rice, as well as Chloe’s own inventions.
  • Don’t leave without trying its curry chicken cutlet rice with onsen egg and real black garlic chicken soup.

If you find that New Station Rice Bar rings a bell, you’re not wrong — it’s a riff off the older and nostalgic brand New Station Snack Bar, which still stands in Far East Plaza today. 

1990s kids might remember heading to New Station Snack Bar for its salted egg pork or chicken rice after school for a wallet-friendly and filling meal. 

But the “New Station” in both its names is probably where the similarities end. That, and probably the fact that you can also find the familiar salted-egg dish at New Station Rice Bar, too. 

New Station Rice Bar, located on the third floor of the rustic and somewhat-dingy Fortune Centre, is a new casual eatery started by Chloe Tan, 30. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
It’s tucked away from the central escalator, but just look out for its bright lights to locate it. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Chloe’s parents started New Station Snack Bar the very same year she was born (1994) and while she may have spent a good number of years, including her childhood, there, Chloe is firm on the differences between both brands.

The plucky Chloe said she started New Station Rice Bar in February this year because she wanted to “sell dishes that are my comfort food.” She adds: “I love rice so I decided to incorporate rice into all the dishes — there’s no kway teow or noodles (unlike at Snack Bar), for example.”

While some might know Snack Bar as a zi char stall, Chloe sees her Rice Bar as a place that serves up contemporary Singaporean food and an outlet to experiment her never-ending stream of ideas. (She tells us she even has a Google document full of them!)

Back to the “beginning”

Becoming an F&B business owner was a bit of a full-circle moment for Chloe.

She recalls being resentful about the business, because her parents were often too busy for her on weekends, adding: “I hated F&B. I hardly had any childhood or time with my parents…I remember even asking my mother, ‘Why are you in F&B?’”

However, that didn’t stop her from working at her parents’ shop. In fact, her earliest memory of her helping out at the shop was from the age of seven. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Over the years, Chloe worked mainly in the front-of-house, occasionally helping with small kitchen tasks such as making dumplings. But she was never allowed into the kitchen, even though she wanted to learn more about its inner workings. 

It wasn’t that her parents didn’t let her in — rather, it was the zi char chefs at Snack Bar that didn’t take too well to having women in the kitchen where the equipment is heavy, the environment unrelenting and the tempers fiery. 

In between, Chloe had also graduated with an accounting degree. However, her corporate accounting stint was short-lived as she quickly realised that corporate work wasn’t for her.

As she continued working at Snack Bar, she refused to take “no entry into the kitchen” for an answer and practised in secret, after all the chefs had left for the day. Some things she did on her own included tossing raw rice grains in a wok to hone her wok skills. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Chloe may have hired a chef to help in the kitchen, but every recipe at New Station Rice Bar is her own. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Subsequently when the Covid-19 pandemic hit local food businesses in 2020 — Snack Bar included — she had an epiphany: “Covid-19 pushed us up against the wall and ignited a fighting spirit in me. It was then that I wanted to test my potential and limit.”

Thereafter, she began making plans to start her own business, which included looking for someone willing to train her and the right location. 

She shared her thoughts with a Snack Bar regular-turned-friend who then linked her up with a former chef in his 70s who goes by the name of Zhang — who Chloe calls Shifu (“master” in Chinese). He had retired from the trade due to work-related wrist injuries.

Even though she had faced issues with finding a suitable mentor on previous occasions (with one chef calling it quits with her after the first lesson), Zhang Shifu could sense her earnestness and decided to take her on.

Zhang Shifu also introduced her to industry counterparts who showed her “ren qing” (or “kindness” in Chinese), turned up to help her, and even donated kitchen equipment for her to get her business going.

She was floored by the support. One chef even commented: You are young, you want to learn, you respect the cuisine, and you respect the chefs” — words that she holds close to her heart as guiding principles for her work, even until today.

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
The adjacent dining space at New Station Rice Bar. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

New Station Rice Bar’s menu 

That tenacity, constant willingness to innovate and do-or-die attitude is evident in Chloe’s menu at New Station Rice Bar. 

As a new brand with a relatively fresh team, you might expect the menu at New Station Rice Bar to be small — especially with the limited kitchen space. However, when we first visited in late-March, there was a pretty extensive menu of various mains, appetisers and even a specials board.

It was clear that the excitable new business owner wants to try a lot of her new ideas.

She even told us: “I am very eager to launch a new menu — a version 2.0 — to remove all of the traditional zi char classics (such as gong bao chicken) to make way for more of my dishes.” 

In more recent weeks, however, Chloe now has adopted more of a measured approach and streamlined the menu, emphasising consistency and quality in her dishes.

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

At present, she and her small — but mighty — team run the restaurant from Tuesdays to Saturdays, for lunch and dinner — albeit with her mother’s assistance, on occasion.

What’s on the menu for the day at New Station Rice Bar is listed on the board right out front, though Chloe tries to change up this permutation often. 

A clear standout at Rice Bar is its curry chicken cutlet rice with onsen egg (S$9.50), which we sincerely hope — for your sake — is available when you visit.

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Curry chicken cutlet rice with onsen egg. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The dish resembles a Japanese curry rice, but Chloe’s rendition incorporates a more aromatic, viscous and sweet-yet-still-spicy curry. It’s made using a unique sambal and rempah blend that Chloe concocted with the help of an Indian spice master. 

Tasting it for the very first time, I personally found the curry extremely savoury — it packed a strong flavour punch. Mixing the onsen egg in helped to dilute some of that intensity. 

Initially, I had wondered why there was so little curry gravy, but I soon realised that you don’t need much curry to “accompany” the rice, simply because of how flavour-packed each spoonful is. 

The chicken cutlet was tender, adequately moist and was breaded just right — not too thick that all you taste are crumbs, yet not too thin that you don’t get that requisite crunch. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Real black garlic chicken soup: Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

If you’re dining in a bigger group, we’d also recommend that you order more side dishes to round out the meal — the real black garlic chicken soup (S$10) is a winner in our books, as are its juicy chilli oil dumplings (S$9), too.

The soup is Chloe’s take on a garlic chicken soup she tried while in Taiwan, but with a toned-down, more mellow approach to suit local taste-buds. 

If you’re wondering how the soup achieves its flavoursome quality, New Station Rice Bar employs actual, homemade black garlic that has been fermented for a month. 

And we mean at home — literally.

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Fermented black garlic. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Chloe and her husband tell us the process is laborious and has even resulted in their home smelling of nothing but black garlic.

But the output is worth it. Naturally sweet with gentle notes of umami, the black garlic gives the comforting, tasty bowl of chicken soup a satisfying finish. 

They also opt to have it in-house, in order to keep costs low and continue to serve up the soup at affordable prices.

If you still have room to spare, then try its chilli oil dumplings — Chloe’s version of hong you chao shou (or “chilli oil dumplings” in Chinese). In this rendition, it’s visibly meatier with more ingredients than just the usual chives and meat. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Chilli oil dumplings. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Her dumpling recipe draws from Din Tai Fung’s prawn pancake filling, but in dumpling form, instead. It was also adapted from a recipe by Zhang Shifu himself. 

As we dug into the dumplings, we couldn’t help but marvel at how generously stuffed they are — the pork filling is sweet, owing to the shrimp, and has a nice crunch from the water chestnut and fungus bits. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The dumplings come with a house-made chilli oil vinegar blend that is well-balanced and the concoction is more moreish than the usual baptism of chilli oil you’d get with these dumplings. 

We also got a taste of the braised shiitake mushroom in bone broth (S$15 a la carte, S$8.50 with rice and egg), which came with huge, palm-sized shiitake mushrooms personally handpicked by Chloe herself.

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The mushrooms are braised to a melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and almost abalone-like texture. The sauce is light and that’s really all it needs, because the mushrooms, which have been braised in bone broth for hours till soft, are already delicious enough on their own. 

New Station Rice Bar Fortune Centre
Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

With such a promising debut menu, we genuinely cannot wait to see what this inventive young chef gets up to in the coming months. 

And trust us when we say, don’t just order the salted egg rice at New Station Rice Bar for old time’s sake — give the rest of Chloe’s inventions a go. You won’t regret it. 

For more food stories, read about how this 25-year-old founded Singapore’s most famous bolo bun shop, and where to get the best fried chicken in Singapore

Do explore the GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to New Station Rice Bar at Fortune Centre. 

New Station Rice Bar

Fortune Centre, 03-04, 190 Middle Road
Nearest MRT: Bugis, Bras Basah
Open: Tuesday to Saturday (11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 8.30pm)

Fortune Centre, 03-04, 190 Middle Road
Nearest MRT: Bugis, Bras Basah
Open: Tuesday to Saturday (11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 8.30pm)

Sarah Chua-HungryGoWhere

Sarah Chua


Sarah is constantly seeking out new coffee spots and cocktail bars around the world, and should probably drink more water while at it.

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