Travel

Singapore Tourism Board introduces the unique and flavorful Zi Char to Filipino foodies

Get a taste of some delightful Singapore dishes as we await borders to reopen

MANILA, Philippines – There’s no doubt about it: Filipinos love to travel and eat, as they explore new culinary flavors and traditions in every country they visit. And one country that they love going to time and again is Singapore. But since traveling to Singapore is not yet possible at the moment, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is reaching out to Filipino foodies with a case of wanderlust by bringing a taste of Singapore to the Philippines.

A Filipino favorite, chili crab also ranks number 35 on CNN’s listing of the world’s 50 most delicious food. For this local delicacy, mud crab is used, where the crustacean is stir-fired in chili and tomato sauce, with deep fried mantou buns serving as a perfect side-dish compliment.

STB will be introducing the unique, albeit lesser-known cooking style, Zi Char, through the release of a humorous and quirky video titled, “Say it First!” The video features actor turned chef and restaurateur Marvin Agustin, the musical husband-and-wife tandem of Yael and Karylle Yuson, plus comedian Victor Anastacio as they try their best to correctly pronounce Zi Char.

Pork mixed with coffee—why not? Coffee pork ribs is a unique deep-fried dish that makes use of instant coffee along with a corn flour batter. Developed by Singaporean celebrity chef Sam Leong, coffee pork ribs have since become a popular Zi Char sensation.
Pork mixed with coffee—why not? Coffee pork ribs is a unique deep-fried dish that makes use of instant coffee along with a corn flour batter. Developed by Singaporean celebrity chef Sam Leong, coffee pork ribs have since become a popular Zi Char sensation.

“When I was approached for this fun campaign, it was actually my first time to hear about the Zi Char style of cooking,” says Agustin. “Aside from figuring out how to properly pronounce Zi Char, it really got me very intrigued and as I started to learn more about it—its roots, its influences, and the ingredients used—not only did I want to try every possible dish, it excited me enough to want to actually master the art of cooking Zi Char.”

More affectionally knowns by its Cantonese name ‘Har Cheong Gai,’ Prawn Paste Chicken wings are marinated in fragrant shrimp sauce and is coated in batter prior to deep-frying. The result is a juicy, crispy, and oh-so-flavorful treat can be found in Zi Char joints, bars and even cafes!
More affectionally knowns by its Cantonese name ‘Har Cheong Gai,’ Prawn Paste Chicken wings are marinated in fragrant shrimp sauce and is coated in batter prior to deep-frying. The result is a juicy, crispy, and oh-so-flavorful treat can be found in Zi Char joints, bars and even cafes!

After learning how to say “Zi Char”, Marvin will star in a web series that will be launched in March 2021. In the series, Singaporean chef, Bjorn Shen, will teach Marvin how to make the popular Zi Char dishes, Cereal Prawn, Coffee Pork Ribs, and Seafood White Bee Hoon. The series is titled, “Singapore Reimagined”, as Marvin will make his own reimagined dishes, using ingredients easily found in the Philippines.

So, what exactly is Zi Char?

Zi Char is a popular cooking style in Singapore, influenced by home-cooked food. Zi Char dishes are mainly Chinese but also have many influences from the different races and cultures in Singapore.

Akin to our very own Bihon, rice vermicelli is the centerpiece of this tasty dish which is usually served with many toppings: shrimp, pork, and veggies.
Akin to our very own Bihon, rice vermicelli is the centerpiece of this tasty dish which is usually served with many toppings: shrimp, pork, and veggies.

With their extensive menus and quick service, Zi Char dishes are cooked to order and customized to one’s liking and are hearty yet easy on the pocket—food meant for sharing. And sharing a meal is one thing Filipinos love doing!

 An appetizing and mouth-watering array of Zi Char dishes are laid out for sharing, with seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes including rice and soup. The variety of dishes on display point to the diversity of influences and flavors that make-up the Zi Char cooking style.
An appetizing and mouth-watering array of Zi Char dishes are laid out for sharing, with seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes including rice and soup. The variety of dishes on display point to the diversity of influences and flavors that make-up the Zi Char cooking style.

“Filipino foodies are always game to try new dishes and flavors. We hope to appeal to their sense of adventure by introducing this unique cooking style and creative dishes from Singapore. Let’s reimagine what dining in Singapore can be with Zi Char – the crazy delicious cooking style you’ve never heard of!” said Ruby Liu, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Area Director for the Philippines.

“Say Zi Char” with us

Foodies around the Philippines are invited to Say Zi Char too! All they have to do is…

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