This casual Chinese eatery specializes in roast meats and other Chinese classics like spicy chicken Szechuan style ($16) and steamed pork with salted egg ($11). There's also a range of craft beers and ciders on offer.
The buzz: This Chinese eatery (located a few doors down from The Tuckshop) specializes in roast meats inspired by (and in our opinion possibly as good as) the legendary Oversea Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. You can also pair the sinful treats with craft beers—now, why didn’t we think of that?
The vibe: It might be pretty spic-and-span (and maybe even slightly upscale) for a zi char place, but it’s still very casual and laid-back. Old-school marble-top tables with brown stools and red and yellow wooden chairs fill the space in this 65-seater. You’ll find random pieces of art on the walls (look out for the one with a pig—so apt), as well as vintage décor, like a typewriter set on a high shelf.
The food: The highlights are of course, the roast meats, especially the melt-in-your-mouth honey barbecued pork a.k.a. char siew (from $15), crispy pork belly (from $12) and the duck (from $14). Other zi char classics are also available, such as seafood (there’s crab, fish, crayfish and prawns; have it steamed or stewed with your choice of topping or sauce), steamed pork with salted egg ($11), salt and chili pepper spare ribs ($16), chicken and salted fish fried rice ($11) and soups ($5) that change daily.
The drinks: With a selection of craft beers and ciders on offer, pick from choices like St. Bernardus Witbier ($10)—which goes well with the roast duck—and Wychwood Ginger Beard ($13). Thatcher’s makes up the cider list (the Pear Cider, $11, is our fave), and if you’re not in the mood for alcohol, there are soft drinks, juice, coffee and tea ($3-$5).
Why you’ll be back: Why travel to KL when you can get your hands on equally fantastic roast meats (and more) here?
This one-star review is unlikely to turn away the droves of Char devotees (really impressive, considering the eatery is only a few months old) waiting in line daily.
Some backstory is necessary: the owners of Char spent a year mastering how to replicate the roast meats at KL’s legendary Oversea Restaurant, which itself attracts heaps of food-obsessed, day-tripping Singaporean. And their char siew and roast crispy pork belly (each $15/300g; also available in smaller portions as a platter from $18) are indeed pretty damn tasty and quite different from the versions sold at most local roast meat stalls.
Despite that, we wouldn’t recommend dining here. Our weeknight meal here was a logistical nightmare: we had to point out vacant tables to the staff while waiting to be seated; dishes arrived in no logical order whatsoever; glasses of water were replenished willy-nilly (we even witnessed a patron waiting on other tables with a jug of water).
And other than the two signature pork items, the rest of the food was middling to poor. The roast duck (from $14 for a quarter duck) had little discernible character other than rubberiness. Zi char dishes like Szechuan chicken ($13) and stir-fried string beans ($10) was soggy. Even the fried rice ($5) was awful (said no one ever, until now).
The limited craft beer selection offered little salvation; those ales are on the blander side and can’t hold their own against rich porky flavors. Sorry, but we just don’t see what the fuss is about. Why dine here when you can walk over to the main Geylang strip and stuff yourself silly with good dim sum, frog porridge and you tiao?
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