Zi Char is a popular Chinese style of eating where people order multiple dishes and share with each other, accompanied by plain white rice. There is usually an insanely wide selection of dishes with all sorts of meat (chicken, beef, fish, etc) prepared in multiple different sauces/styles (sweet & sour, salted egg, black pepper, sambal etc). Think of all the possibilities!
The general consensus is, when someone suggests zi char for dinner it means we need to prepare our bellies for an incoming truckload of excellent food. Singaporeans have a standard zi char template – 1 meat, 1 seafood, 1 egg, 1 vegetable and rice. Obviously in bigger groups, it’ll be double of each (lol please we know even in small groups you all order double, can’t blame you).
If you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of dishes and variations to choose from, here’s some help. We put together a list of the 5 dishes you MUST order when eating zi char:
1 Hotplate Tofu
This is heavenly. A must-have with plain white rice. Think soft tofu with amazing sauce with minced meat all on top of a perfectly fried egg.
2 Prawn Paste Chicken
Chicken wings fried in prawn paste and flour. What could be yummier?
3 Kang Kong Belacan
Stir-fried morning glory with sambal belacan and occasionally shrimp. Perfect hint of spiciness to the mix.
4 Cereal Prawns
If we’re being honest, this gets ordered purely for the buttery cereal. Nobody really cares about the prawns.