The couple behind Si Yang Steam Soup have been diligently serving their steam soup since 1982 and had built quite a good business at Ang Mo Kio Blk 728 before the coffeeshop was sold and they had to move to their present location. Since then, their business has dropped by so much that they are considering retirement!
I think the challenge for anyone entering the zi char business is to be able to come up with one or two signature dishes with the ability to capture people’s attention. You Huak managed to do it with their seafood white bee hoon, New Ubin with their beef fried rice and Royal J with their fried porridge. Just being competent in the usual compendium of zi char dishes will only get you so far.
Hong Kong Style Kitchen (港式小炒): Cheap and Good Zi Char
Cheap and reasonably good zi char food. You can't really complain when the steamed grouper costs only $15 and the fish handpicked by the chef from the wet market every day. The food may not be the tastiest we have come across but it is good quality and you will be more than happy with the portion size and the price.
The first thing that strikes you about the lapis is how many layers there are. Then as you peel the layers, just how stretchy they are. Then when you eat them, how chewy and yummy they are. The guys were having fun peeling off each layer, then twirling each layer around the finger before popping the whole finger into the mouth!
I really hate to be a naysayer, I really do. But just as I said that it is "The End of Char Kway Teow", traditional kuehs like png kueh and soon kueh are also facing an uncertain future. Consider the following questions:
The food at Hana-hana is very good value. I am not saying you will get top class Japanese food, but for a Japanese omakase meal, this is as cheap and good as it gets and you should leave the place feeling that you will want to go back again.
This version of white beehoon is quite different from the wet version we are all familiar with in a similar way that wet hokkien mee is different from the dry type. I liked the texture of the thin beehoon and how it had absorbed the flavour of the stock.
About four years ago, I picked up a book from the library that was simply titled "Steak". There are very few single words that have the power to command my immediate attention and this is one of them. The other is "Monnnnng!" which is what my Teochew name sounds like when it is uttered by my wife in an ascending tone. It usually signals an ominous change in the weather pattern which requires a drastic course correction.
Sinn Ji Chicken Rice: Young, Innovative Next Generation Hawkers
There has been much debate about how to preserve our hawker culture. One idea was to set up hawker "schools" where courses are offered on how to prepare certain dishes. On paper, this seems to be a good idea.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. White duck like this nice meh? Honestly, I still prefer braised duck. But I went with a group of kakis and they all seem to like it, so I think this would be something that some of our readers here will like.
Helmed by local born, Chef Martin Foo, the restaurant menu is a culmination of his many years of experience at Lei Gardens and Tung Lok group and his penchant for creativity and esoteric ingredients. What's more, Chef Martin keeps a spreadsheet on his customer's preferences so that he remembers what type of fish you like and how it is prepared!
This restaurant chain used to be known as Paradise Inn but had recently had a makeover. Instead of stools, now there are proper chairs and the dishes are now a little more refined but they are still dishes that you would expect to order at the zi char. More importantly the prices of most dishes are between $8 to $22 which is on par with zi char prices!