One of the most famous types of barbecue in the world is Chinese Barbecue Pork 叉燒 (Char Siew or Char Siu), a Cantonese-style of flavouring and barbecuing pork.
Traditionally sold by displaying them hanged in glass cases by the entrance, char siew and other roasted meats are visually appetising. But once it reaches your plate, it’s hard not to drool over this sweet, sticky and savoury pork.
The perfect Char Siew has marbled cuts to allow fat to do its job in keeping the meat moist, juicy and tender.
Its overall flavour is toasty savoury sweet due to the soy and sugars in the marinade. The roasting process, whether over charcoals or in a gas or combi oven, creates that charred exterior with crispy parts.
Some of the well-known roast meats stalls in Singapore include Tiong Bahru Lee Hong Kee Cantonese Roast (Tiong Bahru Food Centre), Zhong Yu Yuan Wei (Tiong Bahru Food Centre), Hua Fong Kee Roasted Duck (Toa Payoh Lor 1), Choon Kee Roasted Delight (Golden Mile Food Centre), Sum’s Kitchen & Hong Kong Roasted Meat (3 Jalan Legundi), Fu Shi Traditional Roasted (Marseiling Mall Hawker Centre), Chan Kwong Kee Roast Shop (4A Loyang Lane), Lau Phua Chay Roasted Duck (Alexandra Village Food Centre), Tien Lai Rice Stall (Taman Jurong), Fei Fei Roasted Noodles (Yuehua Hawker Centre), Roast Paradise (Old Airport Road), Kay Lee (Upper Paya Lebar Road), Mei Mei Roast Meats (Ubi Road 1 Blk 3014), and See Sean Rice Stall (People’s Park Food Centre).
Here are some of the 10 Char Siew stalls in Singapore you can try:
88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist 88 香港燒臘
153 Tyrwhitt Road, Qinan Building, Singapore 207566
Tel: +65 8225 2495
Opening Hours: 9am – 3:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist is known for their roasts such as Sio Bak – complete with crunchy crackling, moist meat and melt-in-your-mouth fats.
Chef Martin Ong has moved for a few times, from Tampines, JB, Bukit Batok, Lavender to its current location at 153 Tyrwhitt Road (Jalan Besar). There is another outlet at 308 Lavender St, Singapore 338814. Note that while the opening hours state early, some times the Char Siew is only ready 11am or so.
Get the Char Siew Rice ($4 and up), with pieces both moist and full of bite, a good layer of char.
The Char Siew is prepared within the stall, with laborious steps from braising the pork loin with a sweet malt sugar marinate, blow-drying, roasting to drenching the pieces over with dark gooey sauce.
Kim Heng (HK) Roasted Delights 金興香港燒臘
Block 214 Serangoon Avenue 4, #01-88 Singapore 550214
Tel: +65 6283 3695
Opening Hours: 9am – 7pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs – Sun), Closed Wed
When in Serangoon Avenue, get your roasted meats fix at Kim Heng (HK) Roasted Delights, housed inside Kim Heng Coffee Shop. This tucked-away stall, owned by Lim Chee Meng, has been operating for three decades.
While most roasters in Hong Kong (and even hawkers in Singapore) have already switched to gas or combi ovens, Ki Heng (HK) Roasted Delights continue to roast over charcoals.
Strips of pork are vertically roasted, basting the meat in its own juices to keep it moist. The smoke it creates, plus the trademark char, make char siew tastes like char siew.
Using this traditional method, Lim Chee Meng makes roast pork belly, roast duck, honey char siew and other HK-style roasts.
Order the Kim Heng HK Char Siew Rice, a generous serving of char siew with oily, fragrant rice typically served with chicken rice.
The pork is quite lean and cut in thick chunks, glazed with a ginger-infused sauce to match the ginger in the rice’s seasoning.
Choon Kee Roasted Delights
Golden Mile Food Centre #01-74, 505 Beach Rd, Singapore 199583
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 3pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs – Sat), Closed Wed, Sun
Choon Kee Roasted Delights is one of my latest finds. The roast specialist first started in Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 2 5023 canteen, and has now relocated to Golden Mile Food Centre.
Despite being ‘new’, there is typically a semi-long line here. Always sold out early, sometimes by late lunch time.
On its menu are Char Siew Roasted Pork Rice ($4, $5), Roasted Duck Rice ($3.50, $5), Roasted Duck Char Siew Rice ($5) and 3 Combi Duck Rice ($6). For the family, you can order the 3 Combo Duck Set ($8, $12, $20).
For this price, you could be amazing with the portion of meats given. Just look at that.
This is one of those few sio bak that I truly enjoyed, with a sizable-crunchy skin that could go ”cruck cruck” as you take those satisfying bites.
The Char Siew is chopped till thick slices with a tender bite, with a good proportion of lean meat to fats.
Fu Shun Jin Ji Shao La Mian Jia 福顺烧腊面家
1 Kadayanallur Street #01-71 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore 069184
Opening Hours: 12pm – 8pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Fu Shun Jin Ji Shao La Mian Jia was established in 2008 by Singaporean Chan Tuck Kwai, who first began cooking in his teens.
His roast meats have become popular they attracted constant queues of customers at Maxwell Food Centre.
Its Char Siew is prepared by roasting it over charcoals while basting continuously throughout the cooking period.
This technique layers the surface with a thick coating of marinade, not-too-sweet and deeply savoury. It is roasted until a slight charring is created, which added a smoky flavour to the strip of meat.
For variety, they offer both lean and fatty cuts. You’d be surprised even the lean cuts are roasted to the right level of tenderness, without getting dry and tough.
Hankering for noodles too? Get the affordably-priced Char Siew Roast Meat Noodles ($3, $4), where you get the same tender char siew and egg noodles that blends well with the sauce.
Jiu Jiang Shao La
Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre #01-17, Block 20 Ghim Moh Road, Singapore 270020
Opening Hours: 10am – 2pm (Thurs – Sun), Closed Mon – Wed
Jiu Jiang Shao La stands out amongst a swarm of hawker stalls at Ghim Moh Food Centre. Their roasted duck meat is exceptionally good and attracts a long queue at the stall.
The prices are quite affordable for the given serving size and quality of food.
They are best known for its Roast Duck ($32), with offerings of Roasted Duck Leg Rice ($5.30), Char Siew ($3), Roasted Pork Rice ($3).
If not, get their all-in-one plate included with a pile of Roasted Duck, Char Siew and Roasted Pork Belly ($5).
It instantly won me over with its fragrant aroma and delectable presentation. The duck was cooked to a perfect tenderness although I do wish it was juicier) with flavourful and crispy duck.
I actually liked the sweet caramelized char siew better with a beautiful char. Sauce was slightly on the sweeter side.
Foong Kee Coffee Shop
6 Keong Saik Rd Singapore 089114
Tel: +65 9181 1451
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 5:30pm (Sat), Closed Sun, PH
Well-known for serving one of the best wanton mee in Singapore, Foong Kee Coffee Shop at Keong Saik Road is also home to char siew worth trying out.
Here, BBQ pork is not just a topping over rice or noodles, but a star on its own.
On the Char Siew’s surface, you’ll find slight char and a beautiful caramelisation.
Scrape off the charred bits to reveal a juicy and tender lean meat with traces of fat. You get none of the artificial red colour, only a deep, caramel brown, a testimony to the process it has went through.
Taste its roasted flavour accentuated with the sweet sauce. Goes well when mixed with the QQ springy noodles and some chilli.
Note that the eatery has announced its coming closure, and will be closing permanently on 15 June 2021. Foong Kee (Keong Saik Street)
Fatty Cheong (ABC Brickworks Food Centre) 肥仔详
#01-120 ABC Brickworks Food Centre, 6 Jalan Bukit Merah, 150006
Tel: +65 9882 4849
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 8:30pm (Fri – Wed), Closed Thurs
The legendary Fatty Cheong stall at ABC Brickworks Food Centre serves a selection of Chinese fare, including roasted and barbecued meats.
Its sweet and succulent char siew is a must try. The tender ”bu jian tian” underarm cut is used, with a good lean meat-fat ratio to maintain its juiciness during roasting.
The fats help in creating an essential component – the char on the outer layer. Roasting is done the traditional way over charcoals.
The marinade is a blend of oyster sauce, bean paste, soya sauce, sugar, rice wine, black soya sauce and some red colouring to brighten it up.
Order it with rice or noodles. In case the front stall in closed, there is another Fatty Cheong stall specialising in noodles at the back of ABC Brickwords Food Centre. Fatty Cheong (ABC Food Centre)
Zhen Zhu Fang Roasted Delights 珍珠坊香港烧
34 New Market Road #01-1098 People’s Park Food Centre, Singapore 050032
Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Zhen Zhu Fang Roasted Delights 珍珠坊香港烧 has been listed in the Michelin Guide with a Michelin Plate for a number of years.
Some of the reasons why it is that popular is due to its consistent taste, affordable pricing (starts from $3.00), and its location right next to the entrance of the food centre.
Expect to find delights such as Roasted Duck Rice ($3.50), Char Siew Rice ($3.00), Twin Mix Rice ($5.00), Roasted Pork Rice ($3.00), Roasted Duck Noodles ($3.50) and Wanton Noodles ($3.50).
While I won’t say that the Char Siew Noodles ($3.50) is out of this world, there is something about that dark sauce and well-marinated roasted pork that gave it that familiar Cantonese flavour. Zhen Zhu Fang Roasted Delights 珍珠坊香港烧 (People’s Park Food Centre)
New Rong Liang Ge Cantonese Roast 新榮亮閣港式燒臘炖湯
3838 Eating Place, 269B Queen Street, #01-235, Singapore 182269
Tel: +65 9099 9489
Opening Hours: 7am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Putting this here for the $2.50 Char Siew Rice.
While the stall is relatively popular with the Bugis crowd with a constant line during peak hour line time, it is not considered that known in the league of Cantonese roasts
Still, it could be worth paying New Rong Liang Ge stall a visit especially if you are in the vicinity.
The menu is extensive and inexpensive, with a basic plate of Char Siew Rice priced at $2.50.
Other items sold include Roasted Duck Rice ($3), Char Siew and Roasted Pork Rice ($3), Pork Ribs Rice ($3), and Roasted Pork Rice ($2.50).
The “San Pin” aka combination of 3 types of meat such as Char Siew, Roast Duck and Roast Pork is priced at an inexpensive $5, in generous portion and most alluring due to the gooey dark sauce drenched on top.
While meats are not of the most top-notch quality, they are certainly above the average and were mostly tender. New Rong Liang Ge Cantonese Roast Duck (Queen Street)
Alex’s Eating House
87 Beach Road, #01-01 Singapore 189695
#01-01 Chye Sing Building, 87 Beach Road, 189695
Tel: +65 6334 0268
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Mon – Sun)
Located in Chye Sing Building at Beach Road, Alex’s Eating House has been around since December 1991, offering local Singaporean BBQ coffeeshop style.
Behind it is a simple kitchen where all the roasting magic happens.
Its extensive menu of Chinese dishes gives you lots of eating options. Aside from various roast meat dishes, from hearty char siew (BBQ pork), fat & crispy sio bak (roast pork belly), plump roast duck, to soy sauce chicken.
Alex’s Eating House’s Char Siew has a good balance of lean meat and fat, exhibiting that much-desired charred taste from the roasting process.
While typically lean, its strips of fat make it tender to the bite and adds an appetising flavour. Order it with rice (BBQ Pork Rice) or in the form of Wanton Noodles. I quite liked the accompanying chilli.
Plan your visit as lunch time is peak.
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