Zi char fare usually refers to wallet-friendly local dishes found in old school coffeeshops or hawker stalls. The hearty meal typically comprises cooked-to-order meats, fish, seafood, and vegetables with rice. The menu may include one-dish noodles like vermicelli or hor fun (flat rice noodles).
Many popular zi char places in Singapore have been putting their own creative spin on their specialities. Some even use quality ingredients like Sri Lankan crabs, pork ribs or oysters. As some of these eateries open late into the night, they often attract local chefs who like to head there after work for a satisfying meal.
1. Zai Shun Curry Fish Head
Damian D’Silva, chef-partner, Rempapa
This zi char place in the west is where you can get various cooked-to-order food, Teochew porridge as well as a selection of fresh fish. The owner brings in a range of farmed and wild-caught fish such as garoupa, barramundi and pomfret. You can take your pick and have the fish steamed in a variety of styles, including Cantonese or Teochew.
“One of the main draws is the freedom to look into the styrofoam boxes to pick out the fish, which are always so fresh,” says D’Silva, adding that he would usually get his fish steamed. “What I enjoy is the ‘surprise’ fish that is sometimes available to those in the know. But the boss might ignore your request if you are not familiar with the stall,” he advises.
Zai Shun Curry Fish Head, 253 Jurong East Street, 24, 01-205, +65 6560 8594