Zi Char - JB Ah Meng

Zi Char - JB Ah Meng
2 Geylang Lorong 23

Zi Char - JB Ah Meng Flat Lay
Zi Char - JB Ah Meng Flat Lay

Tasty Crabs & Fried Noodles

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 5
Ambience & Setting: 2
Food & Beverage: 7
Service: 4
Value for Money: 8
Spent about SGD $25 per person.


Having been around for a few years (at least since April 2009), the JB Ah Meng stall is a humble, street side Chinese Zi Char in Geylang, well loved by many. So named because the owner is Malaysian, JB Ah Meng makes the inaugural Singapore Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand 2016 list, and they are a popular haunt for late night suppers. While the food is tasty, I personally feel it's above average but not outstanding in quality, though I can see the appeal of their affordable, wallet-friendly prices.

Ambience at JB Ah Meng is subject to the elements. Completely open air, it's at high risk should it rain, or if the weather is too warm. It was especially bad during our visit, warm with still air, which made the area hot and stuffy. Not helping the fact is the bustling, noisy, dirty, gritty street side environment, where hungry angry / hangry diners stew in the heat, and tempers are short. Entertainment was provided during our meal, when a contraband merchant ran past with the police in hot pursuit.

Service at JB Ah Meng varies, depending on whom you speak to. Generally, most of the staff are curt and brusque in their replies, demonstrating a level of impatient annoyance. However, the lady boss is friendly and polite, and will offer recommendations if asked, though she will often push the higher priced items. Orders take awhile to fulfill, expect a wait of 20 minutes or so. Staff are very quick and efficient at cleaning up empty / dirty tables when diners leave, but it's sometimes difficult to attract their attention.

Food at JB Ah Meng is said to be Malaysian Chinese Zi Char style. The menu seems small, but it looks like there are also off-menu items, if you know what to order. Generally, food is tasty, above average in quality, though not particularly outstanding in my opinion. Prices are affordable and wallet-friendly, budget about SGD $25 per person for a full meal with seafood here. JB Ah Meng is well worth visiting if you're in the area, but I think it's not worth travelling just to dine here.


JB Ah Meng Facade
JB Ah Meng Facade




JB Ah Meng Menu



The house special signature dish is the JB San Lou Mee Hoon (SGD $7 / $11 / $14), which nearly all tables here ordered. The bee hoon / rice vermicelli noodles are slightly charred and crisp, and buried within are generous amounts of eggs, kai-lan / Chinese kale / Chinese broccoli, and bits of cuttlefish. Greasy with a robust smoky savoury flavour, this was delicious. Our group felt the wok hei / breath of the wok was good, though we would have liked it to be slightly more crisp and charred. Still rather addictive and tasty. Highly recommended!

JB San Lou Mee Hoon (SGD $7 / $11 / $14)

JB San Lou Mee Hoon

The off-menu dish of Fujian Hokkien Noodles (SGD $5 / $9 / $12) have a nice wok hei / breath of the wok, and a deep savoury flavour from the addition of pork lard. The round yellow egg noodles are complemented with kai-lan / Chinese kale / Chinese broccoli, sliced pork loin meat, fish cake, and deshelled shrimp / prawns. While tasty, I felt it's average at best, not outstanding. The portion of ingredients is too little, such as having only a few tiny shrimp / prawns. I also wish there was more gravy. Would not order this again.

Fujian Hokkien Noodles (SGD $5 / $9 / $12)

Fujian Hokkien Noodles

While the Crab Roll Fritter (SGD $12 / $18 / $24) are meaty, they taste terrible and bland, seemingly like frozen factory processed lumps. Would be better if it was more crisp on the outside, or hotter. However, I did like the crisp, deep-fried sheets of rice noodles, coated in a sticky sweet sauce. Waste of calories and money. Skip this.

Crab Roll Fritter (SGD $12 / $18 / $24)

Crab Roll Fritter

The best dish here is the White Pepper Crab (SGD $24 per piece). The crabs, while small in size, are meaty, fresh, and sweet. What makes this outstanding is the white pepper gravy, savoury sweet with a mild peppery flavour and fragrant with spring onions. Not too fiery or sharp, it doesn't overwhelm the fresh sweetness of the crabs, and I like that it doesn't numb the tongue. Price is wallet-friendly too. Even better than other reputable seafood brands. Highly recommended!

White Pepper Crab (SGD $24 per piece)

White Pepper Crab

The Deep-Fried Fermented Bean Pork Belly (SGD $12 / $18 / $24) features strips of pork belly, coated in a marinade of red fermented beancurd, 5-spice powder, sugar, garlic, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine, then deep-fried. The result is a crisp exterior, while the interior remains moist and tender, and the pork belly takes on a savoury salty sweet taste. This Chinese Hakka treat is quite addictive! Good!

Deep-Fried Fermented Bean Pork Belly (SGD $12 / $18 / $24)

Deep-Fried Fermented Bean Pork Belly

The Salted Egg Prawn Ball (SGD $20 / $30 / $40) is underwhelming. While I like the salty savoury, thick salted egg yolk gravy, the main issue is the texture of the deshelled shrimp / prawns, which are much too firm, and lacking the fresh sweetness in taste. And I couldn't quite understand why they added corn kernels here as well. Disappointing dish. Skip this.

Salted Egg Prawn Ball (SGD $20 / $30 / $40)

Salted Egg Prawn Ball

Our group was divided over the Snake Beans With Lotus Root (SGD $12 / $18 / $24), which features stir-fried snake beans / yardlong beans, celery, and deep-fried lotus roots. While the vegetables are fresh, and do hold a good smoky aroma of wok hei / breath of the wok, the lotus roots are only semi-crisp instead of being fully crunchy. Decent enough as a vegetable dish.

Snake Beans With Lotus Root (SGD $12 / $18 / $24)

Snake Beans With Lotus Root

Loved the Black Pepper Kurobuta Boneless Pork Collar (SGD $20 / $30 / $40) for its incredibly tender slices of kurobuta pork collar, so soft and silky smooth that it seems to nearly melt in the mouth. Garnished with crunchy green bell peppers / capsicum, garlic, onions, spring onions, and chili, the fiery black pepper gravy is sharp and peppery, having a good kick. Good for those who like strong peppery flavours.

Black Pepper Kurobuta Boneless Pork Collar (SGD $20 / $30 / $40)

Black Pepper Kurobuta Boneless Pork Collar