Zi Char - Jin Sha Wan

September 02, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Zi Char - Jin Sha Wan
212 Hougang Street 21 #01-349


Above Average Zi Char Worth A Visit

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 6
Ambience & Setting: 4
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 5
Value for Money: 8
Spent about SGD $14 per person.


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Located within a corner coffeeshop at Kovan, Jin Sha Wan is a Chinese Zi Char stall, which I understand is a subsidiary of Tong Garden Seafood Restaurant. The bustling dinner crowd at Jin Sha Wan is testament to its success, highlights here include their fresh seafood, assam dishes, and their salted egg yolk dishes.

Ambience at Jin Sha Wan is decent, despite being located in a coffeeshop. The place is clean, spacious with ample seating, and brightly lit. The powerful fans make the place cool, but the smell of cooking does still linger in the air. Wet weather also somewhat dampens the atmosphere.

Service at Jin Sha Wan is befitting of a coffeeshop. Staff are brusque, seemingly impatient most of the time, and don't exactly acknowlege orders. But they get the orders right, and food is churned out by the kitchen pretty quickly. Still, expect a waiting time of between 15 - 30 minutes, due to the large crowd which dines here.

Food at Jin Sha Wan is above average in taste, with classic Chinese presentations. Their seafood stands out here, fresh, yet more affordable than a restaurant. Portions are designed for sharing, and communal dining of at least 2 or more people is highly recommended. Prices are wallet-friendly, budget about SGD $14 per person for a meal with seafood here.


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Absolutely loved the Assam Squid (SGD $10 / $15), which features large, fresh, meaty squid rings, in a strong, sour assam sauce / broth, with only a slight sharpness in taste. Along with tender chunks of vegetables (okra / lady's fingers, eggplant, string beans), this is a hearty, warming dish. Great for those who love spicy food! I understand this is the same tamarind sauce / gravy used in their famous assam fish head!

Assam Squid (SGD $10 / $15)



The sticky glaze on the tasty Pork Ribs King (SGD $8 / $12) is more savoury than sweet, and the bone-in chunks of pork are tender yet moist. Lovely, best eaten with rice so you get the full flavour!

Pork Ribs King (SGD $8 / $12)



I thought the Seafood & Beancurd Soup (SGD $4.50 / $8) was decent, with a nice portion of tofu beancurd, but not much seafood (fish, prawns, squid) to be worth ordering. The soup is decent, with a seafood soup taste, but the flavour isn't as pronounced as I like. Not really worth ordering, but for this cheap price, you also can't expect much. The weakest dish I had here, likely I won't order this again.

Seafood & Beancurd Soup (SGD $4.50 / $8)



The Mee Goreng (SGD $4.50 / $7 / $10) is very good! The noodles carry that wok hei / breath of the wok, and I like that they made it less spicy on request. The squid rings within are fresh and meaty, and the cabbage and bean sprouts still have that slight crunch, without being limp. Slightly oily, but worth ordering!

Mee Goreng (SGD $4.50 / $7 / $10)



The Sambal Petai With Minced Pork (SGD $10 / $12) has crunchy petai / stink beans, but what I like is the spicy, salty, savoury, minced pork meat and onions, which pair perfectly with rice!

Sambal Petai With Minced Pork (SGD $10 / $12)



The star dish here, the Salted Egg Prawn (SGD $16 / $22) features an incredibly tasty, savoury salty, thick, salted egg yolk sauce. So yummy we used the sauce on other dishes as well! The prawns are large, fresh, and meaty, yet fried well enough that the crunchy shells can even be eaten! Highly recommended!

Salted Egg Prawn 01 (SGD $16 / $22)


Salted Egg Prawn 02



The Home Made Speciality Beancurd Tofu (SGD $8 / $12) is yummy! The soft, wobbly beancurd tofu and savoury salty minced pork is generous in portion, and goes incredibly well with rice! Straight forward Chinese comfort food!

Home Made Speciality Beancurd Tofu (SGD $8 / $12)



The String Beans With Dried Shrimp (SGD $8 / $12) is well executed. The string beans are fresh, soft and tender, the center still has some bite, and more importantly, is not limp. But the dried shrimp really flavours this dish, the aroma and taste is intense. Good, if you like strong flavoured food!

String Beans With Dried Shrimp (SGD $8 / $12)



Loved the Cereal Prawn (SGD $16 / $22), which has a generous amount of fried oats. The taste isn't as pronounced because they don't use as much chili, or curry leaves, unlike elsewhere, but the texture is a lot more crisp and crunchy, very satisfiying! The prawns are large, fresh, and meaty, yet fried well enough that the crunchy shells can even be eaten! Highly recommended!

Cereal Prawn 01 (SGD $16 / $22)


Cereal Prawn 02



The Fried Vermicelli (SGD $5 / $8 / $10) is semi-wet, and savoury from being stir-fried with pork. Delicious, with a good amount of ingredients such as sliced pork, cabbage, bean sprouts, prawns, chinese spinach / water spinach / ong choy / kang kong, and eggs. The thin, slippery vermicelli noodles are tasty from being soaked in gravy, and are easily slurped down. Good!

Fried Vermicelli (SGD $5 / $8 / $10)



The Sliced Fish In Sweet & Sour Sauce (SGD $10 / $15) is more sweet than sour, and the sauce is a little thin. But the ingredients are fresh, especially the sliced fish, and the portion is decent for the price. The vegetables have a nice crunch to them, and the fish slices are of a medium thickness. Decent enough.

Sliced Fish In Sweet & Sour Sauce (SGD $10 / $15)



The Signature Five Spice Prawn Roll (SGD $8 / $12) is well fried, the skin is nicely crisp, but the meaty pork, prawn, and water chestnut within is still moist and fragrant. Good enough to eat on its own, even without any sweet sauce! However, I notice that the meaty, savoury taste is a lot more pronounced than the herb / spice flavour. Still, I would highly recommend this!

Signature Five Spice Prawn Roll (SGD $8 / $12)



The Omelette With String Beans & Chinese Sausage (SGD $8 / $12) is crisp around the edges, but still remains fluffy towards the centre. A little thin though. The string beans lend a floral crunch, while the chinese sausage lends a savoury, salty, smoky flavour. Pure comfort food, though I feel the price is a little steep for this dish.

Omelette With String Beans & Chinese Sausage (SGD $8 / $12)



Wasn't too pleased with the Yang Zhou Fried Rice (SGD $4 / $6 / $8), as I felt it was below average, lacking somewhat in taste, texture, and wok hei, though the ingredients are generous. But my family seemed to love it though, and polished it off!

Yang Zhou Fried Rice (SGD $4 / $6 / $8)



The Nai Bai / Milk Cabbage With Garlic (SGD $8 / $12) is worth ordering for its fresh, crunchy nai bai / milk cabbage vegetables, and fragrant sauteed garlic. Tasty, with clean flavour. Good! This dish is actually an off-menu item, but the chef knows how to prepare it should you request for this.

Nai Bai / Milk Cabbage With Garlic (SGD $8 / $12)



The Chili Crab (SGD $33) has a choice of small or large crabs; we got the smalls ones. Fresh, somewhat meaty, the crab meat comes off easily, and has that solid crustacean flavour. However, it's let down by the thin, weak chili gravy, while it's eggy and sweet, it lacks the heat of chili spice, the robust gravy texture, and the savoury flavour that other places have.

Chili Crab (SGD $33)



The Steamed Assam Fish Head (SGD $28) has that great tasting, savoury sour assam gravy, but with slightly more chili heat. Served with the same variety of vegetables, with the inclusion of tau pok / tofu puffs. The fish head is large, with a good amount of meat, and comes clean off the medium-sized bones. Easy to eat, even for senior people! Incredibly tasty, highly recommended!

Steamed Assam Fish Head (SGD $28)



The Prawn Paste Chicken With Fermented Beancurd (SGD $8 / $12) doesn't have that intense prawn paste flavour like elsewhere, but it's still a very good fried chicken! The fried batter skin is crisp yet light, not too greasy, and the chicken meat is juicy and tender. Tasty, worth ordering!

Prawn Paste Chicken With Fermented Beancurd 01 (SGD $8 / $12)


Prawn Paste Chicken With Fermented Beancurd 02



Update Nov-2015: The Nai Bai / Milk Cabbage With Hon-Shimeiji Mushroom (SGD $10 / $14) has that same, fresh, crunchy nai bai / milk cabbage vegetables, this time enhanced with the earthy taste of tender shiitake mushrooms and hon-shimiji mushrooms, the sweetness and crunch of carrots, and a savoury mushroom gravy. Good!

Nai Bai / Milk Cabbage With Hon-Shimeiji Mushroom (SGD $10 / $14)



Update Nov-2015: The Venison With Ginger & Spring Onion Hotplate (SGD $16 / $22) has incredibly tender strips of venison deer meat, in a savoury salty gravy with onions and spring onions. Portion is a little small for its price though, and it's also rather oily. At least this has good wok hei / breath of the wok, you can actually taste the smoky aroma on the meat!

Venison With Ginger & Spring Onion Hotplate (SGD $16 / $22)



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