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15 Best Zi Char Places in Singapore

15 Best Zi Char Places in Singapore

No matter the occasion, there is always reliable zi char to fall back on. The menus are extensive enough to cater to the pickiest eater and seating is aplenty — great for gathering in large groups! From a Muslim-friendly spot in the East to a hidden gem along Mandai Road, arm yourself with this guide when planning for family meals and group celebrations.
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For Gravy-Ladened Prawn Hor Fun

This no-frills zi char eatery in Chinatown took the number one spot on our Hot 100 (Hawker Edition) 2016 with their perfectly cooked Big Prawn Hor Fun (from $16) brimming with wok hei. The crowd favourite dish sees slippery rice noodles bathed in an eggy, slightly spicy sauce that is full of flavour. Seats fill up really quickly at peak hours, so best to come early. Consider it your lucky day if you've managed to snap up the Claypot Yong Tau Foo ($14), which is often sold out. Pair your Hor Fun with other tasty eats like the Poached Chinese Spinach with Assorted Egg (from $11) and the Homemade Tofu with Minced Pork ($10) — both are consistently good options that our Burpple community recommends.
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Kelly Wong

For Sik Wai Sin Fans

Located along Geylang Road, Desmond's Creation is run by the younger of two sons from the now-defunct Sik Wai Sin. Back when they were cooking for Sik Wai Sin, Desmond specialised in stir-fried dishes while his brother, Steve, excelled in steamed dishes. Prices may be steep for the portion, and menu options are limited, but the flavours are consistently good. If you're in a big group, head to this air-conditioned eating house early, or be prepared to queue (especially on weekend nights). The signature Sweet and Sour Pork (from $18) is a tasty crowd favourite, but we found ourselves wishing they used fattier cuts of pork as well as a bigger portion for the price. Go for the Black Chicken Soup ($25) for a tummy-warming dish. To us, the most satisfying dish was the seemingly humble Beancurd with Prawns (from $19) laced with egg. This gravy-laden dish is just perfect spooned over rice!
Avg Price: $20 per person
Photo by Burppler Muriel A

For Reliable Zi Char in the West

KEK is one of those zi char places that we would gladly return to. With its friendly and prompt service, consistently flavourful dishes and plenty of seating to accommodate large groups, it's the foolproof option for those living in the West. Order the Moonlight Hor Fun (from $5) — hor fun full of wok hei cooked with Chinese sausage, prawns, beansprouts and lard, finished with a raw egg that completely transforms the dish when you mix it in. The Fried Salted Egg Crab is another crowd favourite, think fresh crab tossed in a thick, buttery salted egg sauce with the right amount of spicy! The Coffee Ribs ($8) are a hit with the customers too — tender on the inside, and glazed with a sweet, sticky coffee sauce. Pro tip: these dishes pair great with a crisp white wine. Bring a bottle along if you're celebrating (corkage charge of $5 per bottle)!
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burppler Keropok Man

For Foolproof Big Group Gatherings

Getting to this secluded zi char spot is mission impossible without a car, but it's well worth the trip. Housed in the old Picket & Rail building along Mandai Road, Cafe 566 is a spacious air-conditioned joint that dishes out quality dishes at affordable prices. There are plenty of seats and parking is free, making this an ideal location for last-minute gatherings with the extended family. Rather amusingly, Cafe 566 retains the old decor of a jungle-themed cafe, so don't be surprised to see old animal statues like gorillas, tortoises and even giraffes. Order a Chilli Crab ($43 per crab) to share and a side of freshly fried Mantous ($0.60 each, minimum order of five) to mop up all that luscious gravy! Apart from the crab, get the umami-rich Deep-fried Sotong with Salted Egg (from $12), the crowd favourite Four Treasure Vegetables (from $10) and the perfectly crisp Marmite Chicken (from $12) to share!
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burppler Hilary See

For Fried Prawn Noodles and More

This unassuming coffeeshop in Chai Chee is a favourite among the Burpple community for its Fried Prawn Noodles (from $10 for small). The noodle dish uses flat lor mee noodles instead of yellow noodles, features more gravy than regular fried Hokkien noodles, and is big on the wok hei — the latter an absolute plus in our books! This dish is only available on weekdays, so time your visit well. While you're here, order the Fried Sotong ($10), which is crisp around its edges yet wonderfully succulent within, as well as the Black Pepper Crab with Korean Noodles ($40 for two crabs). Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim loves how the chewy sweet potato noodles soak up all the black pepper flavour for slurp-worthy deliciousness. Gather your friends for a weeknight dinner — the more the merrier, so you can order more, too!
Avg Price: $20 per person
Photo by Burppler Raine Liu

For Celebrations over Refined Zi Char Dishes

Located across Rochor Beancurd in Selegie, this hidden zi char gem may be slightly pricier than others, but well worth it for a birthday celebration with a small group of friends. Make reservations in advance should you want to sit indoors, otherwise be prepared to sit alfresco. Meat lovers will love the fall-off-the-bone tender Drunken XL Spare Ribs ($23 for five) that comes in a variety of sauces like the finger-licking good Butter Champagne flavour. We like how the restaurant provides disposable gloves to make the process of eating the ribs easy and fuss-free! Then, tuck into the Wok-Fried XL Crabs ($70 per kg) and opt for the Indo Curry sauce. Burpple Tastemaker Geraldine Tay notes that unlike other curries where the consistency may be slightly thicker, the curry's consistency at Big Lazy Chop is thinner and more soup-like — great for slurping it up without feeling jelat!
Avg Price: $30 per person
Photo by Burppler Celest Lim

For Halal Zi Char and Seafood

Look no further for a Halal-certified Chinese meal that hits the spot. A short walk from Kallang MRT station, Segar Village serves up a good array of zi char and seafood dishes, and its rustic ambience makes it perfect for a no-frills Sunday dinner with the family — dress down in shorts and flip flops to feast in comfort! There are plenty of zi char classics like Sweet and Sour Chicken (from $9 for small), Assam Curry Fish Head ($20) and Sambal Kang Kong (from $8 for small), alongside one-dish meals like Sambal Petai Fried Rice ($6) and Hokkien Mee ($5). Segar Village is also known for its fresh seafood. Options include Barbecued Stingray ($12), Steamed Tilapia (market price) and Crab Tang Hoon (market price). Pro tip: Visit ASAP to enjoy their current promotion: for every $20 spent, you'll get to enjoy two crabs (either cooked in chilli or black pepper style) at a special price of $30.
Avg Price: $20 per person
Photo by Burppler Mfj Meow

For Melt-in-your-Mouth Beef Cubes

Despite relocating from Sin Ming to Hillview, the new location has not deterred loyal fans of New Ubin Seafood from going the extra mile(s) for their favourite dishes. The sprawling space that doubles up as a canteen during the day can accommodate 280 seats, which makes this ideal for large gatherings. If you're headed here on weekends, make a reservation in advance. First on the list to order: the juicy US Black Angus Ribeye Steak ($14 for 100g) that comes complete with wedges, caramelised onions and beef fried rice (rice fried in beef fat) on the side. It's sinful, but incredibly tasty and a definite winner in our books! As for the standard zi char items, our Burpple community loves the tasty Har Cheong Gai (from $15), Salted Egg Squid (from $16) and, if your wallet can afford it, the Chilli Crab (from $42)!
Avg Price: $25 per person
Photo by Burppler Sarah L

For a Hole-in-the-Wall Family Meal

This old-school joint is set in an industrial estate in Tampines, but that doesn't certainly doesn't deter the crowds (mostly families) who willingly make the trek down for its honest-to-goodness cooking and reasonable prices. This place is known for Johor-style Bak Kut Teh (from $5.50), characterised by its herbal soup base. However, like some Burpplers, you may be tempted to go for the Cabbage Whole Chicken ($16) instead. The weekend specialty sees a whole kampong chicken cooked in its own broth in a claypot lined with cabbage leaves. The soup is sweet, the chicken is tender and the melt-in-your-mouth cabbage pieces are divine. This alone is enough to pair with white rice, but if you're dining in a larger group, consider adding on the tasty Mongolian Pork Ribs ($10), Assam Fish ($22) or an unusual offering of German Style Pork Knuckle ($22), plus a vegetable dish of your choice.
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burppler Joyz X.

For JB Ah Meng's Famous Bee Hoon

This eatery in Geylang ranked number five on our Hot 100 (Hawker Edition) 2016 opens till 3am daily, making it the perfect place for a late dinner with your colleagues. Its always crowded, so be prepared to wait in line. Portions are big and great for sharing, like the signature JB San Lou Bee Hoon (from $7 for small). Despite its lackluster appearance, the bee hoon is expertly fried and flattened, resulting in a 'pancake' of silky soft vermicelli with perfectly charred bits on either sides — simple but so good! They also do wicked Salted Egg Prawn Balls (from $20 for small), Fried Garlic Chilli Clams (from $16 for small) and White Pepper Crabs (market price) slicked in an unusual garlicky white pepper sauce that allows the natural sweetness of the crabs to shine through.
Avg Price: $25 per person
Photo by Burppler Veronica Phua

For Claypot Rice and Tasty Zi Char

This Geylang stalwart has long been packing in the crowds for its claim to fame — Claypot Rice (from $14 for two pax). The dish is cooked painstakingly over a charcoal fire for about 30 minutes to achieve that unbeatable smoky flavour and delicious char. The chicken and waxed meat pieces peppered through the rice are also nice and tender. This spot is great for a one-pot dinner with a friend, but those who come in a big group get more tummy space to share their excellent zi char dishes. Try the off the menu Lotus Wrapped Pork Ribs ($15) that comes with plenty of chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, and the Stir-Fried French Beans ($8). They also have another outlet in Serangoon Gardens, which is more nicely outfitted, but we very much prefer the atmospheric buzz of its original location. Pro tip: Save on waiting time by calling them to place an advanced order as well as to confirm seating availability.
Avg price: $10 per person
Photo by Burppler jankliciouz 고혜령

For Casual Group Gatherings in Aljunied

Just around the corner from Aljunied MRT Station is this popular zi char stall that our Burpple community loves. Rather than looking out for its signboard, heed Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim's advice and look for the long queue instead. Take this time to scan their massive menu for dishes you might want to try — like the popular Penang Fried Kway Teow (from $5). If it's your first time here, order the crowd favourite Lala Hokkien Mee (from $8) that has equal parts wok hei and fried pork lard. It's slicked in a wet sauce and comes served with a generous amount of sotong, prawns and clams. Be sure to share the popular Salted Egg Sotong (from $14) that comes with perfectly cooked squid rings, coated in an unbelievably crisp batter and tossed in a umami-rich, wet salted egg sauce, as well as the tasty Fermented Pork Belly ($12)!
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim

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