Now that 5 pax dining out is back on the menu, many of us are probably looking for places where we can make up for the lost time dining out with families and friends. In Singapore, where else is better for a sizeable gathering than our favourite zi char joints?
With all your favourite hor funs, decadent chilli crabs, and addictive sweet & sour pork, there’s no more diverse range of dishes under a roof that can satisfy different palates. Plus, there’s something homely and comforting about all these classic zi char dishes that make it a truly Singaporean dining experience.
Keng Eng Kee Seafood
This storied zi char stall at Queenstown has plenty of fans all around Singapore, who make their way down for some of their highly-raved dishes such as their iconic Moonlight Hor Fun (S$7.80/S$12.80/S$19.80), Chilli Crab (market price), and Claypot Pig Liver (S$17.80)/S$24.80). They also have Coffee Pork Ribs (S$15.80/S$22.80/S$32.80) so good that you’d find yourself stuck in a war with your family fighting for the last piece of that perfectly caramelised rib.
JB Ah Meng
Unlike its name “JB Ah Meng” suggests, this zi char restaurant at Geylang has no ties with JB — in fact, the owner hails from Ipoh instead. Regardless, this is probably one of the best Malaysian-style zi char you can find in Singapore, with their White Pepper Crab (market price) and JB San Lou Bee Hoon (S$7/S$11/S$14) gaining so many plaudits that it earned them a Michelin Bib Gourmand award.
If you have cravings for Crab Beehoon, you can’t go wrong with the legendary Claypot Crab Vermicelli Soup (market price) from Mellben Signature at Tanjong Pagar. While we would usually order as much as possible when eating zi char, we advise that you order in moderation so you can save your space for the impossibly rich and creamy broth and the bouncy beehoon that absorbed all that crazy flavour.
Kok Sen Restaurant
While the Chinatown area has no shortage of Michelin-affirmed hawker stalls, Kok Sen Restaurant at Keong Saik is perhaps one of the biggest standouts — you can expect up to an hour wait queueing for them in the evening. If you’re a fan of seafood and hor fun, you’d probably want to try their beloved Big Prawn Hor Fun (S$18/S$36/S$54) for a hard-hitting mix of wok hei and prawn sweetness.
New Ubin Seafood
Singapore is known as a melting pot of culture within Asia, that’s why it’s not surprising to see the birth of modern zi char restaurants like New Ubin Seafood that incorporates other Western elements into their menu of hearty dishes. Tell me which other zi char has USDA Black Angus Ribeye Steak (S$46/250g) with Heart Attack Fried Rice and Foie Gras Egg (S$10) along with your traditional Seafood Hor Fun (S$10)?
Ipoh Tuck Kee Son
Here’s an international franchise that went way more under-the-radar than the likes of Shake Shack— Ipoh Tuck Kee Son, a zi char restaurant from Ipoh that is listed in many food guides for Ipoh must-visits. A visit to Ipoh Tuck Kee Son entails obligatory orders of their stir-fried noodles which include the Moonlight Hor Fun (S$5.50/S$8.50) that’s beautifully topped with a golden yolk, Braised Yee Mee (S$5/S$8) and Fried Low Shu Fun (S$5/S$8).
This hidden gem at Far East Plaza is one of the best-kept secrets of Orchard, serving up affordable zi char staples such as Seafood White Bee Hoon (S$7.80/S$15.80) and Beef Tenderloin Hor Fun (S$12.80/S$25.80), Superior Seafood Soup (S$7.80), and Hainanese Curry Rice with Pork Chop (S$5.80). But the standout from their sprawling menu of many local favourites is probably their Oyster Omelette (S$10.80/S$15.80/S$20.80) that features massive, briney oysters and discs of crispy batter that just crackle thunderously.
Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup
Easties would know of Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup as one of the best supper spots in their corner of the island, serving up not just your usual zi char dishes but also their one-of-a-kind Kidney Mee Sua (S$5.80/S$7.80). With its comforting depth of herbal notes and silky mee sua, it’s a perfect dish for those cold nights. You can pair it with some of the heavier dishes such as the Crispy Pan Fried Bee Hoon (S$10.50/S$15.50) for the maximum shiok factor.
Heng Hua Restaurant
Putien is raved for its comforting and nostalgic brand of Putian cuisine but those living in the North will know there’s a much more affordable alternative in Yishun at this nondescript zichar-style eatery. You can get some of the signature dishes like the Heng Hua Style Fried Bee Hoon (S$4.50/S$8/S$12) and Heng Hua Style Lor Mee (S$4.50/S$8/S$12) at a much more affordable price point, while still delivering almost the same level of flavourful satisfaction.
???? Yishun Street 72 Block 748, #01-212 , Singapore 760748
???? 11am–11pm (Daily)
Two Chefs Eating Place
Two Chefs Eating Place is one of the most popular zi char restaurants in Singapore and probably needs no introduction, especially with all the crazy love their unique Butter Pork Ribs (S$10/S$14/S$18) gets all over social media. This is a dish dish you won’t see very often with pork ribs blanketed with a layer of snow-like butter powder specially made in house.
???? 116 Commonwealth Cres, #01-129, Singapore 140116
???? 11am–2pm, 5pm–10:45pm (Daily)
???? 410A Sin Ming Ave, #02-01, Singapore 570409
???? 11am–2:30pm, 5pm–10:15pm (Daily)
A household brand name at this point, White Restaurant has become synonymous with the ever-more-popular white bee hoon ever since it was invented by its founder. Of couse the first thing you have to order is the Original White Bee Hoon (S$7/S$12) for that rich seafood sweetness and smooth texture, but they also churn out solid zi char dishes including Homemade Fried Beancurd (S$12.80/S$18.80) and Salted Egg Sotong (S$15.80/S$21.80).
Long Ji Zi Char
While Mellben’s Crab Bee Hoon is known for its rich and creamy broth, the Wok-Fried Crab Bee Hoon (S$80/1kg) here at Long Ji Zi Char is known for its hard-hitting wok hei and potent gravy. While not exactly dry, it’s a lot less soupy than the one at Mellben and a lot heavier on the palate.
???? 253 Outram Rd, Singapore 169049
???? 5pm–10:30pm (Daily)
A Michelin Bib Gourmand fish soup? Yes this zi char restaurant is particularly known for its Sliced Fish Soup (S$7.50) but apparently, they also fry up a pretty decadent bunch of Prawn Paste Chicken (S$15.50) and Seafood KL Hokkien Mee (S$9/S$14). So you know you’d get the full range of flavours from the light and nourishing to the sinful flavour bombs that Singapore zi char has to offer.
???? 22 Greenwood Avenue, Singapore 289218
???? 11:30am–2pm, 5:30pm–9pm (Tue to Sun)
Geylang Claypot Rice
This old-school claypot rice and zi char restaurant isn’t actually located in Geylang — it had relocated to Beach Road from its long-time home at Lor 33 a few years back. But there’s no doubt that the star Claypot Rice (S$15/ 2 pax, S$26/4 pax, S$36/6 pax) is still as good here, still cooked over a smouldering charcoal fire. So even though it might take some waiting time, it’s worth it.
Penang Seafood Restaurant
While you hold off any plans for a pilgrimage to the Malaysian food paradise of Penang, you can get a taste of Penang at this popular zi char at Geylang. It’s a place where you can indulge in Fried Sotong With Salted Egg (S$15) while also inhaling strands of silky, wok-hei-tinged Penang Fried Kway Teow (S$5) straight from their wok.
???? 32 Aljunied Road Singapore, Singapore 389817
???? 11am–12am (Daily)
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