CHAR – New Menu with Premium Slow-Roasted Char Siew (Limited to 10 Portions Per Day!)
CHAR Restaurant first appeared on the dining scene in Singapore in 2014 when it was launched by Anthony and Alvin Ung – two Vietnam born brothers who spent most of their lives living and working in the United Kingdom before moving to Singapore. After moving to a two-storey conservation shophouse located along Jalan Besar, the restaurant introduces many new dishes with the help of their new Head Chef of CHAR – Chi Leung Tse.
Kicking off our dinner is the Passionfruit Prawn Ball ($22) featuring deep-fried crunchy prawns that tossed in a sweet- tangy passionfruit dressing.
The Signature Double Boiled Chicken Soup ($10 / Limited bowls per day) at CHAR starts off with a robust stock produced by boiling chicken bones and cartilage for several hours to extract all the natural goodness and flavour of the ingredients. The soup is thick, creamy and flavourful, even on its own. Absolutely love this! Each bowl is served with chicken, morel mushrooms, white cabbage and dried scallops before being double-boiled.
Now the highlight – Signature Char Siew ($6 per 100g / min 300g) which took the brothers a year to perfect. With a balance in the lean and fat ratio, the meat goes through a three-stage cooking process to retain its moisture and tenderness. Their Char Siew is relatively smaller in size but has a meltingly soft texture. When served, you see that glistering layer of skin smiling at you. Put a slice in, the first taste is that sticky texture with a pleasant sweetness.
The updated menu also now includes another interesting char siew creation which both brothers and Chef Leung worked on together – Premium Slow-Roasted Char Siew – ($20 per portion / Limited to 10 portions a day / dinner only). Using Kurobuta pork belly means this premium version has a higher amount of lean to fat and the marbling provides a firm yet moist bite. They are marinated in a special sauce for over two days and then slow roasted over charcoal and sweet lychee wood. It is so so smoky and it felt like I was eating bacon! I still prefer the signature char siew but my peers love it. It is recommended to reserve your portions.
There are other homely dishes such as Black Garlic Stewed Chicken in Casserole ($15.80) that is braised with oyster sauce, premium dark soya sauce and sugar. The hero in this dish is the generous portion of roasted black garlic cloves which is highly favoured for its caramelised nuances, subtle garlic undertones and soft texture. Don’t worry, eat already your mouth won’t be smelly!
Their homemade sambal belachan is used to stir fry pork slices, crunchy wild yam, celery and peppers. Fresh Wild Yam with Pork in Sambal Sauce ($13.80) has got a pleasant wok hei aroma and flavour, which goes well with rice.
Another comforting dish is the Charcoal Beancurd with Spinach and Wild Fungi ($14.80). CHAR makes their own tofu from scratch daily and adds charcoal powder. It is first steamed and deep-fried before it is laid on a bed of poached spinach. It is drizzled with oyster sauce, dried scallop, wild mushrooms.
I usually don’t enjoy carbs at the end of the meal but I like their Crispy Egg Noodles with Kurobuta Pork ($16.80). The egg noodles are blanched and then hand-rolled to fashion a neat cocoon before it is quickly dipped in hot oil to seal in the flavour and crisp the noodles. It is drenched in a thick gravy and a generous helping of Kurobuta pork slices.
Not surprisingly, both brothers also have quite a bit of British culture running through their veins and this is reflected through the note-worthy selection of ciders and ales to accompany the variety of roasts. There are three ales and a cider by draft at $14 per pint and $8 for half a pint.
Disclaimer: This was an invited tasting.