I loved Char Siew in my youth.
Then it became ubiquitous and its taste became non-distinct. Until now I am not sure what good Char Siew taste like.
But then I’m not sure what good char siew should taste like. I have tried making char siew but have not been impressed with the results. I need to be clear in my head what it should taste like, then I would know what flavour I am aiming for.
Until then, I’m just barbequeing pork with some kind of sweet marinate.
Anyway, I had read about the 15 best Char Kway Teow in Singapore. and I agreed that Lao Fu Zi was generally over-rated. But I was surprised to find that Dong Ji was #4 on the list. But the reason I had never had that Char Kway Teow was that it was opened only between 8am and 2 pm. Well, one of the reason.
So I made a point of heading down to the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre on Saturday just after 12 noon… to find the stall closed.
Will have to try again another day.
But opposite Dong Ji was “Roast Paradise” offering Char Siew Hakka noodles. The pieces of what was supposed to be Char Siew on display looked pretty interesting – dark caramelised marinate hinting at sweetness and smokiness. So I tried a small portion.
For $3.50, it was a rather small portion. For a dollar more, they offer a larger portion. And you can add more char siew and other ingredients for a price (there is a list). So I could add another dollar for more char siew.
What was good about the char siew is that it is tender, juicy and sweet. Well, for char siew, sweetness is a non-negotiable. But tenderness has been lost from a lot of char siew I’ve tried. Many were dry and quite bland. The juiciness may be from the fatty cuts that they used. I am not sure but it might be pork belly.
The juiciness from the char siew of my youth, if I remember is from what I was told was “tendons” – looks like fat (translucent) but more solid.
The noodles (mee pok) were flavoured with pork oil. Nice. Tasty.
Will try again, probably take a small portion, and add a dollar more of char siew.