James Snacks is another stall in a food court that has really impressed me. This stall is located in the Empire Center food court. James Snacks had won gold in the Chinese Restaurant Awards (CRA) Food Court category two years in a row for their Claypot Rice. I must admit that up until I tried James Snack, I didn’t understand what the big deal was about Claypot Rice as to me, this dish just consisted of rice with a bunch of toppings cooked in a claypot. However, once I tried the Claypot Rice from James Snacks, I understood what all the fuss was about. I’ve never had Claypot Rice that was this good.
One of the reasons why the Claypot Rice (or Sandpot Rice as James Snacks calls it) is so tasty is that they make it from scratch upon ordering. Hence, the Claypot Rice takes about 30 minutes to be ready from the time of ordering. If you’re in a hurry, you can call in to pre-order to cut down on the wait time.
There is a choice of 10 toppings for the Claypot Rice:
- Preserved Sausage
- Minced Meat with Dried Squid
- Diced Chicken with Dried Octopus
- Beef with Preserved Vegetable
- Minced Meat with Salted Mustard
- Spare Rib with Black Bean Sauce
- Free Range Chicken with Mushroom
- Frog with Ginger Sauce
- Ostrich with BBQ Sauce
- Minced Beef with Egg
We ordered two orders of the claypot rice to try. The first one was topped with Free Range Chicken with Mushrooms ($7.75). There was also some preserved vegetables mixed in with the chicken pieces to give it flavour. The Free Range Chicken was perfectly cooked, tender, and flavourful. Each Claypot Rice was served with a small container of soy sauce on the side for you to season the dish yourself.
Our second order was topped with Spare Rib with Black Bean Sauce ($6.75). The spareribs were meaty, tender, and flavourful. The black beans added flavour to the spareribs without being overly salty. I like that James Snacks uses quality ingredients. The chunks of spareribs were lean, and meaty and there were very few fatty pieces.
The best part of the dish was actually the rice. Since the rice is slowly simmered in low heat along with the toppings, it absorbs the flavours and juices from the toppings. When the rice is perfectly cooked and a caramelized crust is formed on the bottom of the claypot. We moved off all the toppings to the lids of the claypots which conveniently served as spare dishes so we could get at the rice. I gently scraped the rice from the bottom of the pot and was able to remove the beautiful chunks of rice crust. It’s all in the technique of the preparation and cooking in order to get the rice crust to properly form. I’ve had many orders of claypot rice at other places before that barely formed any crust. I was really impressed at how much crust was formed in these pots from James Snacks and how crispy the crust was. The crust was actually my favourite part of the dish!
I liked both versions of the Claypot Rice that I tried, the Free Range Chicken with Mushrooms and the Spare Rib with Black Bean Sauce, and would definitely order them again on my next visit. I later found out after my visit that James Snacks also offers various versions of Steam Rice and Steam Dishes with Lotus Leaf. I can’t wait to go back to James Snacks to try them on my next visit to the Vancouver area.
#1160, 4540 No. 3 Road