Char caused quite a stir when it first launched on Guillemard Road. It created two opposing clans, one worshipping it for bringing them the best char siew ever, the other want it to be banished because its “char siew” isn’t char siew. Char siew or char siu is Cantonese barbecue pork and it usually has a red shiny glaze finish and rarely comes with any sauce. The char siew in Char is not red, it also comes with a generous amount of black sweet sauce. Nonetheless, there is one important point that both clans agree on. They both love the taste of it. The melt in your mouth meat, coupled with the rich sweet black sauce (honey, dark soya sauce, sugar, hoisin sauce, five spice?) is absolutely delicious. The balance of fatty and lean meat is critical, giving it a moist and juicy mouthful. Sinking your teeth into this is like crashing onto the sofa after completing the marathon in personal best time….absolute heaven! Make sure you pre-order when you make your reservation to avoid disappointment.
Char is now located on Jalan Besar, having moved from Guillermard Road in Geylang. It is offering the well loved Cantonese cuisine, but with an infusion of Western techniques, herbs and spices. Unlike the usual Zi Char restaurant, Char is fully air-conditioned with trendy light fittings and dotted with modern paintings. There is no sign of red plastic catering chairs, no poorly taken photos of food on the wall and no inappropriately dressed beer-aunties! The menu is simple. Focusing on only the best they can offer rather than trying to please everyone…..but they do have a wide selection of craft beers. It is a funked up 21st century Zi Char restaurant.
The Roast Pork Belly (Sio Bak or Siew Yuk) was the next celebrity on the list. As with the Char Siew, it is not your ordinary affair. It looks similar enough to its cousin, but there was a mild sweetness and it doesn’t have the strong five spice flavour. The crispy skin had a glowing golden colour and crunchy like a piece of potato chip. The meat was moist and flavoursome. Top notch if you like the twist. I do!
Next on the menu was the Roast Duck. The skin was thin and crispy with a glossy shine on it. The crunch of the skin combined with succulent meat was a bliss. But there was nothing outstanding about it. In isolation, I think it would have been a great dish. But in the presence of the Special Char Siew and Roast Roast Pork Belly it was relegated to a commoner.
Apart from the roast meats, Char also has a selection of other meat and vegetable dishes. We had the recommended Minced Pork with Aubergine Casserole. This is another classic dish on the Cantonese menu. It was well cooked. It came pipping hot and I loved it for its heartiness. Salty rich dark sauce incredibly enveloping the tasty minced pork and fresh aubergine.
Stir fried Dou Miao with garlic was delicious. Carefully cooked to retain the freshness of the vegetable and finely flavoured with garlic and a touch of salt.
I love Char. It is a place where I can go at any occasion and with any food-lover. High quality fresh ingredients made with plenty of attention to details. It delivered great Chinese food in a modern and comfortable environment. Perhaps that’s “casual dining”?!
This place is kids friendly.