'Orchard's best nasi padang' moves to Suntec City, offers new lunch sets & nasi kuning platters

A new iteration.

Joshua Lee | December 15, 2023, 10:37 AM


I first visited Chopstix & Rice in 2016 when I started working in Orchard.

While Singapore's shoppping belt has lots to offer, it comes up short if you are looking for affordable lunch options.

Chopstix & Rice was one of the few places that I felt struck a good balance between taste, affordability, and portion size.

Loij produced 30 to 40 dishes each day when Chopstix & Rice was operating at Orchard Towers. Image via Foursquare.

No surprises then that the eatery, which was located in the basement of Orchard Towers, quickly became one of my go-to spots for lunch.

Run by an Indonesian-Chinese lady, Loij (pronounced "Loy") Saak Chem, Chopstix & Rice has amassed quite a number of fans over the years, including celebrities like Fann Wong and Chen Hanwei.

Personally, I always went for the same combination because it never failed to hit the spot: Rice with assam gravy, spinach, fried chicken, and a fried egg --- served with the eatery's famous green chilli sambal that was spicy, salty, tangy all at once.

Very sedap.

The fact that the eatery had a no-frills aesthetic only added to its charm.

No plush seating or gentle background music to elevate your lunch experience here.

Instead, you got stark fluorescent lighting and generic aluminium tables which served utilitarian functions at best and, as a bonus, didn't distract you from what's on your plate.

And who can forget that bright blue signboard that promised, unironically, "Orchard's Best Nasi Padang"?

Via Foursquare.

For two years, Chopstix & Rice fed me and nourished me with food that I've come to associate with comfort.

Then, the office moved out of Orchard and my visits to the eatery became less and less frequent until it slipped off my radar completely.

That is, until I received an invite last month to a media tasting at Chopstix & Rice's new Suntec City outlet.

The eatery had been busy in the years between.

Loij sold her nasi padang business to Neo Group in 2022.

Under this arrangement, she and her son continue to run the operations and provide direction while the Group supports them by providing supplies and helping them to market the eatery.

Then, in June 2023, prompted by several failed en bloc sales for Orchard Towers, Loij decided to relocate her eatery to Suntec City.

New look and vibes

The new outlet is in Basement 1 of Tower 4, situated across from Aston's. Right off the bat, you will notice the first difference in the eatery's look and vibes.

With its eclectic design, digital menus, and self-service payment kiosks, Chopstix & Rice at Suntec is now a gentrified version of its former self, presumably to appeal to a different group of clientele, perhaps one that is younger with more spending power.

Photo by Joshua Lee.

The prices here are higher too.

Loij told 8 Days that the price increase took into account price inflation of raw ingredients and her rental which is twice what she paid at Orchard Towers.

Gone is the extensive array of dishes to choose from. Loij has downsized that selection to 12 of her most popular dishes for lunchtime and 20-30 dishes at dinnertime .

Customers here definitely won't be getting the variety that Chopstix & Rice used to offer at Orchard Towers.

But from the perspective of a new business setting up shop, it makes sense to keep your menu small and manageable while you cultivate a new customer base. Otherwise, you might have to deal with a lot of food waste.

Loij told 8 Days that she might bring back the full range of dishes if she finds a location with more people.

New food offerings

Those who often find themselves overwhelmed by anxiety whenever they have to choose nasi padang dishes can check out Chopstix & Rice's new set meals (S$9.90 t0 S$15.90).

Each set meal has a main dish (chicken/beef rendang/seafood) and comes with rice, one vegetable side, and one egg.

If you think about it, it's like nasi padang but pre-assembled.

Perfect for that friend who always goes, "Eh, you all order first, I haven't decided what I want," even though she has never deviated from the holy trifecta of beef rendang, sayur lodeh, and ikan bilis kacang.

Image from Chopstix and Rice

Image from Chopstix and Rice

Speaking of new dishes, the eatery has launched a seasonal dish, Nasi Kuning, for the month of December, and that was what I was invited to try.

The Nasi Kuning comes in two sizes that can feed up to two to four diners (more if you count your phone camera because it will want to "eat" some shots of this visual spectacle before anyone digs in):

Photo by Joshua Lee.

Photo by Joshua Lee.

Stained with turmeric, the yellow rice that forms the backbone of the Ayam Tumpeng Nasi Kuning was soft and flavourful.

Accompanying the rice were portions of six different dishes -- satay chicken, brinjal with chilli, achar, sambal quail egg, begedil, and prawn crackers -- and a side of sambal belacan.

Several dishes caught my attention.

The begedil had a soft mash centre encased in a crisp shell.

The achar was an explosion of spicy, tangy, and sour flavours which gave way to a refreshing pineapple aftertaste.

The brinjal was cooked just right so that it still retained some bite and colour. The spiciness from the chilli was manageable.

The 2-pax Nasi Kuning also comes in a version that offers beef rendang and sambal goreng.

Bigger dining groups can try the Besar Tumpeng Nasi Liwet:

Credit: Joshua Lee.

This comes with turmeric rice and nine dishes, including beef rendang, satay chicken, sambal prawns, coconut curry chicken meatballs, and sambal goreng.

To celebrate its opening at Suntec City, Chopstix & Rice is running a promotional offer on its Nasi Kuning until Dec. 18:

  • Ayam Tumpeng Nasi Kuning (S$19.90, U.P S$45)
  • Beef Tumpeng Nasi Kuning (S$21.90, U.P S$55)
  • Besar Tumpeng Nasi Liwet (S$39.90, U.P S$78)

Limited servings of Nasi Kuning are available daily, so make sure to call before you go.

Chopstix & Rice is halal-certified. Click here to check out its menu.

Chopstix & Rice

Address: Suntec City Mall Tower 4, B1-100/101 East Wing, 3 Temasek Boulevard, S038983

Operating hours: 11am - 9pm daily

Social media: InstagramFacebook ⋅ Website (for reservations)