Singapore’s answer to the greasy spoon.

There are lots of zi char places, but there are a few that make us drool. From one at a Marine Parade condo (we're not kidding) to a couple at Tiong Bahru, here are the best ones we'd take our moms to.

 

Diamond Kitchen

Started by young entrepreneurs Lambert Chen and Josh Chou, Diamond Kitchen is a hidden gem that's located unexpectedly in a Marine Parade condo. Chef de cuisine Kevin Lau whips up seafood and zi char signatures like Champagne pork ribs, prawn paste chicken, superior stock clam bee hoon and gan xiang crab. Desserts include stuff like yam paste and bird's nest.

#01-22/23 Laguna Park, 5000F Marine Parade Rd., 6448-0629

Long Ji Zi Char

Started by the folks from the famous Golden Spoon eatery, also in Tiong Bahru, it takes just a quick glance at the dinner menu to discover the specialty here: giant platters of crab bee hoon in a shallow pool of creamy broth. Also amazing is the delicately steamed grouper with ginger and the salted yolk pork ribs. The place is a magnet for big groups, but do call ahead and book if you have a posse in tow.

#01-72, 57 Eng Hoon St, 9790-5682.

Kok Sen Restaurant

It’s super handy having an amazing, unassuming, fluorescent-lit zi char place right in the middle of trendy Keong Saik—but late-night revellers should be aware that it closes at 11:30pm. Still, it’s great to end a weeknight with Kok Sen’s signature claypot yong tau fu, with homemade pastes, and prawn paste chicken.

30 Keong Saik Rd., 6223-2005. 

New Ubin Seafood

It started life decades ago on Pulau Ubin and refashioned itself after moving to the mainland. Located in a nondescript corner of Sin Ming Industrial Estate, this no-frills, traditional seafood joint serves up an assortment of seafood dishes, like salted yolk crab and their signature hokkien mee. They’ve gotten increasingly fancier, serving nice wines, ribeye and foie gras, but we stick to the seafood basics. Remember to book well ahead, and order 24 hours in advance if you want something special.

#01-174 Block 27 Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A, 6466-9558

Por Kee Eating House

There are several strong zichar contenders in Tiong Bahru, but Por Kee Eating House's an institution. The low-ceilinged indoor dining room is always packed, as are the outdoor tables, the service is inconsistent, but the food is outstanding. Get the Champagne pork ribs, the fresh black pepper crab (they’ll bring you a live one to choose first, of course) and the butter prawns.

#01-02 69 Seng Poh Ln., 6221-0582.