The Charm of Zi Char
Zi char (煮炒 in mandarin), is a Hokkien term that translates to “cook and fry”. Originated locally, it describes a Chinese food stall that provides a wide variety of dishes that approximates home-cooked meals at very affordable prices. Everyone enjoys a satisfying, tummy-filling Zi Char dinner with their family some nights.
Ubiquitous to the best Zi Char stalls is their ability to introduce wok hei into their dishes. “Wok hei” describes a slight char and smokiness that is introduced into the food from stir-frying ingredients in a wok under intense heat on specially-designed stoves. It takes years of experience to deftly manipulate massive woks in order to work this flavor into food without burning, and is usually a good measure of a Chinese chef’s skills.
This results in a complicated taste profile for the final dish and is one of the cornerstones of good Zi Char.
Using the nostalgia from weekly family dinners at our favourite Zi Char stores as a source of inspiration, we have developed a mini buffet menu for our patrons, at a time where we are not able to dine-in at restaurants.
Staying true to the Zi Char spirit, we are offering a wide selection of dishes split into different categories for your choosing. With 41 options across 8 categories for a gratifying 9-course meal (2 picks of our yummy vegetable & tofu dishes), we are sure that you will be spoilt for choice. Respecting the affordability of Zi Char stalls, we are also charging a mere $88+ for a meal for 5!
Gong Bao Chicken is a must-have at any respectable Zi Char restaurant. With a concoction of soy sauce, vinegar, peppers, and sugar, this mish-mash of chicken, vegetables, and nuts is an explosion of flavors and umami. Our Wok Fried Szechuan Gong Bao Chicken is sure to make you and your family salivate the moment its scent assaults your noses.
A dish you find in more upscale Chinese restaurants and higher-end Zi Char stalls, our Spinach with Trio of Egg in Superior Stock consists of spinach cooked in a flavorful broth and peppered with a well-balanced medley of century, salted and regular egg. Rich, creamy century egg yolk is punctuated by satisfying bursts of saltiness — a perfect complement to the healthy, nutritious vegetable.
Growing up with my aunt’s 招牌菜 (signature dish), her fragrant, homely chicken curry was always the best accompaniment to rice, or my personal favourite, french baguette. This dish brings about treasured memories of large family gatherings, something we all can say we dearly miss. Phenomenally rich coconut flavors permeating every ounce of this dish, our Signature Nanyang Curry Chicken with Potatoes evokes exactly such emotions. The juicy, succulent bites of chicken carries the flavor of the of the curry really well, and the cuts of potato are thoroughly soaked with curry-licious flavors.
Daniel Food Diary
We dare say that out of all our dishes, our Golden Thai Style Katsu Bun with Thai Chili has the most alluring visual appeal. As described by DFD, “crunchy chicken katsu pieces sandwiched between golden-brown mantous”. If this doesn’t make you salivate, we don’t know what will!
This dish is so very reminiscent of your favourite Zi Char stall’s 铁板豆腐 (Hotplate Tofu). Full of flavorful sauces with soft, melt-in-your-mouth tofu and tender mushrooms is perfect to drizzle over a bowl of rice. DFD said that it was slightly spicy, which leaves “distinctive fiery notes that linger in the mouth.”
From what we can garner, Calling our Buttery Salted Egg Yolk Fish a “show stopper”, it was probably DFD’s favourite. Every succulent piece of Haddock fish was coated with grainy, salted egg yolk sauce and peppered with fragrant, crispy laksa leaves.
As is customary to end off our mini buffets, we have included sweet treats in our 9-course meal. One of the options is our Chilled Ai Yu Jelly with Fruit Cocktail. DFD noted generous amounts of Aiyu jelly — mildly sweet, smooth, and QQ to the touch — combined with cuts of peaches and pineapples, satisfy your tastebuds with this bucket of fruit cocktail.
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