Author: Alex Chua
There’s something roasting at CHAR – the Cantonese cuisine specialist located along the trendy eateries and pubs of Jalan Besar. One, the new Head Chef, Chi Leung Tse, joined the restaurant in May this year, bringing over 20 years of culinary experience in Cantonese cuisine, with past stints at the famed Raffles Hotel, Imperial Treasures and more. Two, he revitalised almost 70% of the CHAR menu, adding his personal repertoire of Cantonese dishes, which includes the succulent Premium Slow-Roasted smoked char siew (above).
If there’s something that unites all insatiable carnivores, it’s the aroma of the slow-roasted meat, the texture and flavour when you bite into it. Using Kurobuta pork belly, this premium version has a higher amount of lean to fat and the marbling provides a firm yet moist bite. Prepared fresh daily, the whole process takes hours in low heat to render the fats and to retain its juiciness.
Do note that there is a limited number of portions (150g) served per day and will only be available during dinner. And with the tact that each reservation is only allowed one portion of the Premium version, so it’s best to reserve a table before it goes out.
With a signature recipe sauce that consists of over 30 ingredients, specially blended to pack as much umami as possible, the Signature Char Siew (above) achieved that perfect golden ratio of melt-in-the-mouth fat and tender lean meat. It took well over a year for the owners to perfect the sauce.
A little background on the CHAR owners. Launched in 2014 by Anthony and Alvin Ung, two Vietnam born brothers who managed to harmonize their different experiences to establish this restaurant. Alvin, a chef by profession, has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese cooking. Anthony, on the other hand, loves Western-style food preparation techniques but via Asian ingredients and produce. The bros put a unique twist on traditional Chinese roasts such as char siew, roast pork and roast duck, accompanied with a delectable Cantonese-based menu like the Charcoal Beancurd with Spinach and Wild Fungi (below).
Beancurd is one of my favourite go-to food, and this dish definitely tops as one of the best block of beancurd I’ve ever tried. Silky-smooth and savoury, charcoal powder is added to give this humble staple a subtle flavour and black appearance. The light broth consisting of oyster sauce, dried scallop and wild mushrooms, helps to infatuates the taste profile of this exceptional dish.
You can taste the freshness with that lovely crunch in Passionfruit Prawn Ball. Marinated in homemade mixture of seasonings before it is lightly dusted in flour and deep-fried to perfection, the prawns were then tossed in a sweet-tangy passionfruit dressing to give that luscious and creamy glace.
The thing I find about CHAR is its strong, robust play on flavours. Therefore, the Signature Double Boiled Chicken Soup came across as refreshing and balanced the palate well. The milky, collagen-filled broth is resulted from the hours of boiling chicken bones and cartilage. Inside this bowl consists of chicken, morel mushrooms, white cabbage and dried scallops which harmonizes the flavour fully.
Overall, CHAR could well be the one of the best spot for family or colleagues to indulge on modern Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant also serves a respectable selection of ciders and ales specially handpicked by the Ung brothers to complement the variety of roasts on the menu, so food-drinks pairing enthusiasts might want to check out this neat restaurant too.
363 Jalan Besar Road Singapore 208994
Operating Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (closed on Monday)
Author: Alex Chua