Zichar

Zichar

Featuring KEK Keng Eng Kee Seafood (Alexandra), Enjoy Eating House and Bar (Jalan Besar), West Coz Cafe (West Coast Plaza), Jiak Modern Tzechar (HillV2), Bao Gong XO Fish Head Beehoon, Thien Kee The Hainanese Kitchen @ Golden Mile Complex, Ipoh Tuck Kee Son (Katong Shopping Centre), Buey Tahan See-Food (Choa Chu Kang), Ga-Hock Seafood Eating House @ Upper Bukit Timah, Rasa Istimewa Waterfront Restaurant
Wilson Foo
Wilson Foo

Read about this halal zichar and decided to give it a try. Arrived at 5.30pm before the dinner crowd and ordered San Lou Bee Hoon from a server. When I asked in Chinese how much and where can I seat, he gave me a blank stare. I repeated in English and he said anywhere.

Waited for 20 mins although there is hardly any customer. When the same server came, lo and behold! He brought a plate of San Lao Hor Fun. I told him he got it wrong because I ordered San Lou Bee Hoon. He gave me a disgusted look and went away.

Another 15 mins later, he came back with a plate of San Lou Bee Hoon. All is forgiven when I smelled the charred wok heat bee hoon. Here’s what I liked:
1) crispy slightly burnt on the outside, moist bee hoon inside.
2) goes well with their sambal belachan chilli.
3) portion is generous for $5.50

And here’s what I missed:
A) as this is a halal zichar, definitely no lard with I feel is de-rigueur for San Lou Bee Hoon.
B) replaced sotong with fish meat. Not sure why but sliced fish does not have the chewiness of sotong.
3) the chicken meat that replaced the pork could have been better marinated. There is a raw chicken taste.

I think all in, I’d better stick to my usual San Lou Bee Hoon places.

First of all, if you are planning to take retro photos in Kam Leng Hotel since you are eating at Enjoy Eating House and Bar ala Wong Kar Wei’s “In the mood for love” movie, don’t. The place is now a quarantine hotel for foreign workers who just entered the country. A lot of the displays have been removed and we were warned not to go near any of the rooms.

Back to the restaurant, we came at 12 noon and the place was empty. So we were wondering why there is a need to book a table and why there is a limit of 90 minutes for diners. Later we saw the place filling up.

We ordered XO white fish soup, crispy fish maw salad, grandma’s te kah bee hoon, tinpot prawn tang hoon, steamed spicy lime squid and for dessert, we ordered chendol panna cotta and Teochew Orh Ni to share. Altogether with 3 cups of Chinese tea, the bill came up to be $138.89.

The fish soup was normal. Because we ordered too much, but the time we got back to it, the soup was cold and tasted not as good. My bad.

As for the crispy fish maw salad, we liked the zesty lime, the crispy cashew nuts and onion taste of the salad but the pieces of fish maw tasted like it’s been fried for quite some time and left in the open.

The large portion te kah bee hoon was also a let down. Instead of pork trotters, mostly we got belly meat instead of collagen filled cuts. And there was no wok heat infused into the bee hoon. More like economic or vegetarian bee hoon.

The spicy lime squid was normal and serving was so small. Not sure if the three of us had more than three pieces of squid between us.

The saving grace was the Tinpot Prawn Tang Hoon or mungbean vermicelli. I personally think this is as good as those you get in Thailand. The vermicelli had a chewiness and comes infused with seafood umami. The prawns were not supper fresh but acceptable.

Dessert wise, the Orh Ni was a delight. Smooth and silky. The chendol panna cotta had a strange slight bitter taste. We finally nailed it to the green agar agar.

Did I mention the service. The one service staff was sullen faced throughout. He was not rude but his demeanour was very brusque and impatient. One customer tried hard to strike up a conversation but retreated after he found it was getting him nowhere. A female server joined at about one and first thing she did was to ask if she could clear our table while we were
still picking morsels out of the plates!

Parking is a challenge along Jalan Besar as usual. So I am not seeing many reasons for me to come back to this fusion zichar that is rather pricey. Certainly not the Kam Leng Hotel location now.

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Since there are so many reviews about Ipoh Tuck Kee Son’s Yu Kong Hor, Wat Tan Hor, Dai Loke Mee and Steamed Octopus, I’m going to skip and focus on one of their dish that deserves more attention - Braised Chicken Feet. It is my humble opinion that they have the best in Singapore.

This ubiquitous dish can be found in dim sum, Wantan mee stalls, etc. But what you normally get are chicken feet that are first deep fried and then braised. At Ipoh Tuck Kee Son, the chicken feet are simply braised. It is so well done, the flesh comes off by itself as you roll it with you tongue inside your mouth. The chicken feet are small but no lacking in the gelatinous cartilage found in larger chicken feet. As you suck on the flesh, star anise and cinnamon flavour comes across with the savoury of soya sauce. My one complain is it would be nicer if they added dried chilli to the braise sauce to give it a spicy kick. But that can be fixed with their murderously spicy balachan chilli sauce.

Finally, this outlet at Katong Shopping Center is every bit as good a the original stall at Foch Road. Expect a huge crowd and a long waiting time during lunch.

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One of the best if not the best Zi Char in Singapore. The different levels of flavour in the Chilli Crab, the robust coffee taste in the coffee ribs, the fluffiness in their steamed man tou, the strong herbal taste in their drunken prawn in claypot, all leaves you wondering not if but WHEN you should come back. Service was also fast and polite as usual. And I really like the Kopitiam atmosphere.

Must introduce to more of my friends.

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Go for the Assam Fish Head Curry rather than the normal Fish Head Curry. The tangy curry comes with bits of pineapple, lady’s fingers and a large fish head. Goes so well with plain rice. Rest of the stuff in the menu is good but not knock your socks off fantastic.

My go to place for promfret fish steamboat. Also ordered prawn paste chicken wings and spinach with white bait fish. Always crowded so go early.

Very traditional Hainanese family run restaurant that specialises in Steamboat, chicken rice, satay and pork chops. Very strange combination but I have been going to Thien Kee for more than 20 years. Good quality Hainanese food.

For those who know this zichar stall, they are now back to their original spot at 713 Clementi West Street 2 after the COVID lockdown. Ordered my usual fish head bee hoon (you can add XO brandy hence their name) and Har Cheong Gai chicken wings. The soup was tasty and sliced fish meat firm from freshness, not over cooked. The chicken tastes better than all the other zichar around Clementi and West Coast area.

Go before 6.30pm to avoid the queue for tables, especially during weekends.

Want to have Zichar food in the comfort of an aircon environment? I only know of this one Jiak and West Coz Cafe. Both sport very similar menus. Ordered fish head curry, hot plate tofu, egg omelette, sweet and sour pork and chilli Kang Kong. All dishes were of an acceptable standard.

This is the place to go for Malaysian seafood zichar style. Their black pepper crab come with sweet peppery sauce infused with flavour of curry leaves. Crab was bursting with roe! Another unique dish was their dual flavour Kai Lan. All my Malaysian friends were impressed. Long queue after 7pm on Friday night.

Arrived at 6.30pm. Place was already packed. Parking is limited. But the worst is getting their attention to place your order after you get a table. If you managed to achieve all that, the rest will be smooth sailing.

Ordered their curry fish head. Very spicy, fresh fish but we really prefer the Assam type for the tangy taste. Prawn fritters were loaded with water chestnuts and yam so that was a good dish. Dou Miao was normal. Star dish of the place was Salt baked crabs. These are Sri Lankan crabs. Bit pricy at $80 per kilo cause these monsters weight up to 1.6 kilos! Flesh is sweet but worry about all the salt and what it’s about to do to my blood pressure.

Will visit again to try their other dishes but must come earlier.

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