Makansutra: Zi char burgers blend east and west
Liew siblings turn local classics into burgers and more
The three siblings once offered it as a side menu item at their zi char restaurant in the Pandan Loop area and it was met with a mixed response.
Their old-school father-cum-chief cook gave them a "no big deal" verdict.
But now, Wayne, Paul and Geraldine Liew, who were behind the zi char burger idea - incorporating local zi char dishes into Western-style burgers - at their defunct eatery in the west, are back with a vengeance.
The trio now have a dedicated hawker stall, Wok In Burger, in dad's coffee shop at Alexandra Village.
The place reels hungry hordes in with popular classics such as chilli crab, salted egg yolk this and that, sambal kangkong and coffee pork ribs, but chef Wayne has now turned that into burgers and more, again.
I have known the Liew family for years and understand the stern, firm and confident ways of the senior Mr Liew Choy, 64.
It would take a mountain to convince him to accept new-fangled ideas, even from his own children.
The younger Liews have come a long way, having participated in international food events and promotional gigs around the world, from Michelin food festivals to the World Street Food Congress in the Philippines and Singapore.
My take is that these truly local burgers are here to stay.
There is even a Salted Egg Yolk Soft Shell Crab Spaghetti ($15) served like the burgers - in a little wok. It was an umami explosion, framed with fried curry leaves and a whole crispy and juicy tempura soft shell crab. It would have held me hostage if some chilli flakes were dusted over too.
The burgers all had one element I like - texture.
The patties were richly marinated, sauced and cleverly battered and fried for pure mouth-joy. When I saw the Sotong Blur-ger ($9.80), I had to immediately bite in.
I never liked the chewy squid and bread combination, but this version was fried well, over high fire so the softness is retained and the crisp of the batter shines through.
The soft sesame seed buns held the crunchy squid rings emboldened with salted egg yolk sauce and featuring crispy greens below.
The Pai Gu Wang ($9.80), or boneless pork ribs burger, was comforting, with the sour-ish, sweet and savoury marinade and sauce with the meaty goodness intact.
If you need a safe bet for these burgers, then the Chilli Soft Shell Crab Burger ($15) will delight you.
It is places like Wok In Burger that remind me we have so much to be proud of of our street food heritage because of thinking and determined cooks like the Liews.
Wok In Burger
124 Bukit Merah Lane 1
11.30am to 2.30pm, 5pm to 10pm daily