Zi Char Review

Restaurant review: Feast for big eaters

On a quiet street off Upper Changi Road is a row of eateries with a large one right at the end.

Big Eater is its name and it draws crowds for its seafood dishes and Kuala Lumpur-style Hokkien noodles.

My friends rave about the place and I figure it is about time I pay a visit.

The airy restaurant, with both air-conditioned and outdoor seating, is a less hectic place at lunch time.

We order the Hokkien Noodles (from $6) and it looks dark and luscious when it comes. The noodles glisten in an inviting way and we dig in.

Unfortunately, the thick wheat noodles are in rigor mortis. The flavour and wok hei are good, but the noodles have the texture of frozen udon. Only crispy pieces of lard save the dish.

The version at Kong Kee Seafood Restaurant in Geylang Lorong 31, while a lot more oily, is better.

I wonder why my friends, serious eaters all, rave about Big Eater's but then consistency is something many restaurants here struggle with and perhaps I am just unlucky.

Otherwise, the meal is good.

A plain-looking Chicken With Three Sauces ($16 for half a bird) is flavourful in a way a lot of chicken is not. It comes with three dipping sauces - oyster, ginger and green chilli. The last, made with ground-up green chillies, is the best of the lot. It packs good chilli heat and has a tart flavour that makes it very moreish.

Pine Nuts Tong Po Rou ($18) is basically red-cooked pork belly. The name comes from the red-brown colour of the pork after it has been braised in soy sauce, fermented bean paste and sugar.

The pine nuts are not used in the braising. They just sit on top of the slab of meat, but I like the crunch they give the dish.

They are a good contrast to the tender pork belly, which is wobbly and falls apart langorously.

A dish of Bitter Gourd With Salted Egg ($10) is a little more austere. The restaurant uses the egg white as well and the slices of gourd are tender and silky.

For a change of texture, we also order Crispy Roll ($10), prawns sandwiched between sheets of beancurd skin, then deep fried. It is very well done, with not a trace of grease.

Our steamed Marble Goby ($56), done Hong Kong-style with superior soya sauce, is perfectly cooked, the shower of thin strips of ginger on top so delicious with rice. The fish, however, is bland when not drenched in the soya sauce.

Still, the friendly service and good food make this a place I'd like to go back to, if only to see if the Hokkien noodles are better next time.

hsueh@sph.com.sg

www.facebook.com/tanhsuehyun


BIG EATER

34 Jalan Pari Burong, tel: 6245-7268

Open: 11am to 2pm, 4.30 to 11.30pm (weekdays), 11.30am to 11pm (weekends)

Rating: ***1/2