Every family loves a zi char outing, where each member can order their desired dish and end up with a sumptuous feast enjoying everybody’s favourites. The hot steamy taste and wok hei of the 煮炒 is the big draw, and many zhi char stalls continue to enjoy roaring businesses at coffee shops and food centres.
Wondering what everybody’s must-order dish is, I did a survey on my Facebook. While there are some shoo-ins, I must say I am quite surprised by the results. What I thought that were very popular such as san lao horfun, beef horfun, dou miao, furong egg and claypot tofu had few supporters, and the dish leading the pack is what I did not expect.
Number 1 – Sambal Kangkong
Also known as Ipomoea aquatica, I would have thought many would avoid this due to the traditional myth that it makes legs weak and hollow. But every family should order a token veggie right? This simple dish of powerful sambal balacan can give people the impression they are eating their healthy greens, while having a spicy good time.
Number 2 – Prawn Paste Chicken
Har Cheong Kai is my must-order food, and the best local answer to fast food fried chicken. Populated by Hong Kong Street Chun Kee, the smell of fermented prawn paste, the crisp of the skin matched with powerful chilli will blow you away.
Number 3 – Hot Plate Tofu
Not exactly surprised with its popularity because it contains the best of many ingredients – deep fried tofu, fresh prawns, vegetables, the egg at the bottom, and did I mention the hot bubbly sauce?
Number 4 – Sweet and Sour Pork
A traditional Jiangsu dish, 咕嚕肉 or goo lou yok is double deep fried pork pieces matched with sweetness from sugar and a salty sour taste from the ketchup and rice vinegar. It is my growing up dish that my grandma could make very well, and I sure that is for many others as well.
Number 5 – Cereal Prawn
Probably the most original Singaporean of all these zhi char dishes, it is time these crispy prawns enjoy the same status as our chilli crabs. Now which do you prefer nomming – the prawn or the cereal?