GOOD OLD-FASHIONED ZICHAR (EAST COAST RD)

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Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s delicious episode!

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Hi Makan Kakis! This week, our foodie friend Lyn Lee of Awfully Chocolate & Sinpopo Brand returns to take us back to her beloved Katong neighbourhood for one of her favourite zi char places.

Sin Hoi Sai Eating House on East Coast Road is a familar Katong family-run business that Lyn has been patronising for a long time, so much so that matriach Madam Yap has become a friend. According to Lyn, Madam Yap has been working since she was 14 years old and her brother is the head chef in kitchen of the zichar restaurant they started in 1981.

Covid-19 safety measures and dining restrictions really hurt them, but it’s heartening to see them still soldiering on and making efforts to pivot. Whilst dining groups remain painfully small, kerb-side pickups and online orders/ delivery are available.

So what’s good to eat at Sin Hoi Sai? Read on for Lyn’s recommendations!

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For a fancier treat, Lyn’s family always enjoys their crab bee hoon in milky broth. If you refer something simplier, the wonderfully wok hei infused ‘san lou” fish hor fun is also a reliable favourite.

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Slippery-smooth flat rice noodles sit in a tasty, slick sauce, simply prepared with bean sprout, cai xin, generous slices of fish and a scattering of tangy green chillies.

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Lyn also loves their wok-fried ter kah bee hoon, or pig trotter rice vermicelli, another nostalic favourite.IMG_7653

The bee hoon is fried till fragrant, dotted with egg and coated in the meaty juices and oils of the fatty, boneless pig trotter pieces. Tender, fall-apart meat and unctious skin are the highlights of the hearty, satisfiying dish.

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Irresistibly moreish is the snacky starter of hae cho (prawn and pork rolls cut into bite-sized nuggets and deep-fried).  There are 8 pieces to a small portion, but one didn’t survive the car ride from restaurant pick-up to home. The smell was too deliciously enticing!

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A very thin shell of batter encircles the moist, bouncy, carrot-studded surf-and-turf interior. Lyn calls Sin Hoi Sai’s take on this classic zi char dish a “lovely and old fashioned version”, especially when dipped in the dark, sticky-sweet accompanying sauce!

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Another must-have deep-fried goodie is the yam ring. A retro Chinses restaurant & zichar staple that Lyn adores. Mashed yam is shaped into a bowl, battered, deep-fried, then filled with a yummy stir-fried melange of ingredients.

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Chicken pieces, colourful red, yellow & green capsicum, cashews, waterchestnut and mushrooms bring more saucy taste and texture to the crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside yam ring.

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Their steamed baby squid is another dish that gets the stamp of approval. The tenderest whole young molluscs are gently cooked to retain their freshness and bite, then smothered in a savoury-sweet soy-based sauce fragranced with garlic.

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Also popular is salted egg yolk everything! Sin Hoi Sai’s rendition with juicy whole prawns is tasty. The crustaceans are fried so crisp, you can eat them whole – crunchy heads, tails, shells and all – the salted egg coating bringing creamy balance, along with pops of heady garlic, curry leaf and red chilli padi.

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For something unique, you might want to also give their Marmite chicken a go.

Understandably, the unusual yeasty, bitter-sweet & salty flavour of Marmite is divisive, but in this dish it’s used very sparingly. In actuality, you get juicy chicken parts crisply fried and lightly slicked in a silky, syrupy sauce with just a gentle taste and aroma of Marmite.

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One last thing (which I missed ordering) recommended by Lyn – a good choice to complete your zi char feast is always the green and crunchy-fresh nai bai stir-fried in very hot wok with lots of garlic.

If like me, it’s been a long time but you have happy memories of heading to Sin Hoi Sai for a late night supper back in the day, then perhaps it’s time to revisit this Eastside gem once again. For good old-fashioned zichar classics and more, this is one heritage business that needs our continued support!

TASTE:
SIN HOI SAI EATING HOUSE (KATONG)
187 East Coast Road S(428893)
Open Daily: 3pm – 3am
Tel: +65 6440 6956
Dine-in, call or order online for pick-up or delivery.

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