char, guillemard street

good caramelisation, great flavours, but very fatty meat at this upmarket version of your typical roast-meat stall.

straight up, it’s pretty expensive – you could argue that a slab of pork in a restaurant would cost much, much more, and you would be right. but value is relative, and the comparison is more accurately made with singapore’s (gradually less) plentiful good-and-cheaper hawker stalls.

but the flavours are worth a visit – if only just to see the hype – and you’d be eating in a modern bistroesque environment with air-conditioning.

n.b. all Chinese and dialect spellings are mere illustrations and may not reflect their true pronunciations (though they certainly reflect my imperfect grasp of the language).


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It’s a simple menu – a variety of local roast or with a mix of cooked cze char dishes to mix it up a little.

but most people come here for the sweet, sticky barbecued pork (charsiu, 叉烧) – so we got a mixed platter of that with roast pork (siewyoke, 烧肉) and soy sauce chicken (youji, 油鸡), as well as a plate of sautéed greens with mushrooms.

it will likely come to no surprise that their famed specialty was the best thing on the plate: the meat is tender and juicy (almost a foregone conclusion given its fattiness), the outsides have enough darkening to give the place its name, but it’s the sauce that truly elevates the dish.

CLEARLY made from the pork drippings, the sauce is silky, slightly smokey, and sweet enough to complement the meat without going overboard. there’s a good amount of savoriness you’d expect of the hoisin sauce too. without the sauce, the dish would be rather more pedestrian – with it, it’s quite something to exclaim about.

the roast pork was also pretty good – crispy skin and more tender, layered pork – as was the chicken, which was silky and cooked just past pink. both porks were more impressive than the chicken however – I felt like the latter’s sauce needed a little more umami, and perhaps more seasoning.

but the crux of the matter is that while I’m happy to have visited, I’m not sure I’d be back. there’s a heavy reliance on fat here for flavour and tenderness, and while there’s nothing overtly wrong with that (and it’s subjective how much fat is too much), I would have appreciated it if as much skill went into making less fatty cuts just as tender and delicious.

the fat in the both the pork and its sauce was overwhelmingly (it’s not a good sign when you can feel your arteries clog as you chow along) – and hey, there are plenty of us in the eat-lean camp as there are in the ALL-FAT-IS-GOOD one.

otherwise, it’s a nice bistro to catch a meal, service is brisk and helpful, and its crowds are testament to the flavours of the food.

Char
393 Guillemard Rd
Singapore 399790
tel +65 6842 7759
$$.5: 20ish onward

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