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Singaporean chefs’ favourite zi char eateries

Find out where Singaporean chefs go for their zi char and local food fix.

Jason Tan, chef-owner, Corner House

  • Chef Jason Tan
    Chef Jason Tan, Corner House

“I enjoy the white pepper crab at JB Ah Meng as I like the balance of umami and spiciness (of white pepper). Order the small crab instead of big ones as small crabs are much sweeter and lend more flavour to the sauce. The fried frog with ginger at Lao You Ji (245 Outram Road) is another dish I like. It is quite a unique dish, as usually frog is served claypot-style, either spicy or non-spicy, and that can get quite boring. Of course, there is also the delicious big prawn hor fun from Kok Sen Restaurant. That gravy!”

“I have been going to JB ah Meng  for many years. Chefs always want to find comfort food after a long day a t work, so JB Ah Meng consistently meets my expectations. I know the boss very well so he will whip up some special dishes (like noodles) for me.  Sometimes I will bring some Japanese wagyu beef trimmings, then he will whip up something for me to try.”

JB Ah Meng, 534 Geylang Road. Tel: 6741-2418

Han Li Guang, chef-owner, Labyrinth

  • Chef Han Li Guang of Labyrinth

“I like the moonlight hor fun at Keng Eng Kee. There is also the prawn sashimi at Sin Hoi Sai (55 Tiong Bahru Road). This is a special item that is off the menu. The super fresh prawns are simply seasoned with light

Keng Eng Kee, #01-136, 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1. Tel: 6272-1038

Daniel Tay, founder of Foodgnostic, Cat & The Fiddle and Old Seng Choong

  • Chef Daniel Tay
    Chef Daniel Tay

“I have been visiting JB Ah Meng for six years and it is still my favourite place for zi char. It tries to be as consistent as possible, even when it faces overwhelming demand. And even after winning numerous accolades, the boss did not raise prices, as all he wants is for people to enjoy his food. My favourites there are the white pepper crab, san lou bee hoon and garlic chilli lala.”

JB Ah Meng, 534 Geylang Road. Tel: 6741-2418

 Damian D’Silva, executive chef, Folklore

“I’m a big fan of zi char and I used to frequent at least one stall every week. Of course, everyone of them is special but the one which holds many fond memories is definitely Zai Zhun Curry Fishhead at 253 Jurong East St 24. I know they recently received recognition on the Michelin Bib Gourmand and they deserve it. I have been frequenting them when the coffeeshop was 90% filled with customers that you associate with your grandparents or the ‘contractor’ type. I love the head of the shovel-nose ray, parrot fish and occasionally a rare wrasse. Funnily, I’ve never had their curry fish head and always preferred the fish steamed. Together with the steam fish, I would also order the salted egg with bitter gourd, pig trotters and more fish! Porridge has always been the starch of choice. It’s one of my favourite zi char stalls. It always surprises me when I go, as I choose my fish from the huge cooler box and there is always a surprise, if you know where to look

#01-205, 253 Jurong East Street 24.

Pang Kok Keong, chef-owner Antoinette

“I like the lei cha and Hakka yong tau fu at the Traditional Hakka Tea Rice stall (at Berseh food centre). I eat this two to three times a week. I love that it’s light and clean tasting with lots of greens, and when it’s served with brown rice, it’s especially delicious. The yong tau fu is classically Hakka. It’s filled with minced pork and  salted fish, so the taste is nostalgic for me as it reminds me of one that my mum used to make.”

#02-52, Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar.