Zi char is a type of casual dining that has become a popular tradition in Singapore’s food scene. Originating in hawker centres in the 1950s, zi char has evolved over the years, with each dish reflecting the multicultural influences that define Singapore’s food culture.
In this article, we will explore the history and evolution of tzi char in Singapore, with a particular focus on the vibrant neighbourhood of Tampines.
Zi char, which translates to “cook and fry” in Cantonese, is a style of cooking that is characterised by wok-fried dishes made with fresh ingredients. It originated in the hawker centres of Singapore, where local chefs would use a single wok to cook multiple dishes in a communal setting.
The early days of zi char were characterised by affordability, with dishes typically costing no more than a few dollars. This made it a popular option for working-class Singaporeans who were looking for an affordable and satisfying meal.
As Singapore’s culinary scene evolved, zi char became increasingly popular, with many hawker centres and restaurants offering their own versions of the cuisine. Today, it is a staple of Singapore’s food scene and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Zi char is significant in Singapore’s food scene for several reasons. First, it is an affordable and accessible option that allows people from all walks of life to enjoy delicious food. Second, it is a communal dining experience that is perfect for sharing with friends and family.
But perhaps most importantly, zi char reflects the multicultural influences that define Singapore’s food culture. Many of the zi char dishes that are commonly found in zi char menus have their roots in China, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia, making it a unique and diverse culinary tradition.
Tampines is one of Singapore’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, and it has a thriving zi char scene that reflects the area’s multicultural influences. Here are some of the most popular zi char dishes and stalls in Tampines:
This zi char stall is famous for its signature dish, the Sembawang White Bee Hoon. Made with fresh seafood and crispy fried egg, this dish is a must-try for anyone visiting Tampines.
This zi char restaurant offers a range of delicious dishes, including the Claypot Rice and the Signature Char Siew. Chef Kang’s Noodle House is also known for its use of premium ingredients, making it a popular choice for foodies.
Hock Hin Eating House is a popular zi char restaurant in Tampines that offers a range of classic dishes. Some of the must-try dishes here include the Crispy Fried Squid and the Butter Pork Ribs.
Some of the most popular zi char dishes in Singapore include:
Chilli crab is a classic zi char dish that is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Made with fresh crab and a spicy chilli sauce, this dish is best enjoyed with a side of mantou buns to soak up the sauce.
Cereal prawns are another iconic zi char dish that is a must-try for anyone visiting Singapore. Made with crispy prawns coated in a sweet and savoury cereal mix, this dish is a unique and delicious experience.
Sambal stingray is a spicy and flavourful dish that is a favourite among Singaporeans. Made with fresh stingray and a spicy sambal sauce, this dish is best enjoyed with a side of steamed rice and a cold drink to help soothe the heat.
Hokkien Mee is a classic noodle dish that is a staple of zi char menus in Singapore. Made with thick yellow noodles and stir-fried with prawns, squid, and pork belly, this dish is full of umami flavour and is best enjoyed with a squeeze of lime juice.
Oyster omelette, also known as Orh Luak, is a popular zi char dish that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Made with fresh oysters and eggs, this dish is typically served with a tangy chilli sauce.
In conclusion, zi char is a unique and diverse culinary tradition that has become an integral part of Singapore’s food scene. From its humble beginnings in hawker centres to its current status as a popular dining option, zi char has evolved over the years while still maintaining its authenticity and affordability.