PUBLISHED November 23rd, 2020 05:00 am | UPDATED December 2nd, 2020 06:53 pm
Har cheong gai is Singapore’s answer to plain ol’ fried chicken – and a way more scrumptious one, in our opinion. Chicken wings marinated in fermented shrimp paste add up to one umami-packed treat, clothed in crisp-fried skins and brimming with juices. If we’ve got your mouth watering already, make your way to these ten zi char joints, bars, and even cafes for the best prawn paste chicken in Singapore.
Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat
Whampoa Keng might have carved out a name for its rich fish head broth – still heated the traditional way over charcoal – but we reckon the Prawn Paste Chicken Wings (S$14) are worth the trip too. These succulent wings come marinated for up to eight hours and coated in no less than four types of flour. No surprise that the well-browned crust packs serious crunch – bite down for an intensely umami explosion in your mouth.
Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat is located at 556 Balestier Road, Singapore 329872, p. +65 6356 7371. Open daily 11am–11.30pm.
Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall
There’re almost too many reasons to make the trip to Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall – inventive cocktails, craft beer, and hawker fare done right – har cheong gai is one of them. Their signature Boneless Crispy Shrimp Paste Chicken (S$12) is lightly crisp on the outside and bursting with juices on the inside, best balanced with a sweet dab of Thai chili sauce. Pair your nibbles with some locally inspired tipples – their current bundle special features shrimp paste chicken, large Szechuan fries, and two cocktails or beers at only S$55.
Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall is located at 12 Haji Lane, Singapore 189205, p. +65 6535 0838. Open daily 12pm–10.30pm.
Bee Kia Seafood Restaurant
You’ll smell Bee Kia’s Prawn Paste Chicken (S$10++) before you see it landing at your table. This Thomson Road zi char restaurant sizzles up an incredibly pungent rendition of the fried chicken, with a double-fried shell that shatters satisfyingly at a bite. Unlike the standard wings you’ll get at most joints, Bee Kia makes use of diverse chicken parts from breast to drumstick – each piece consistently tender and well-marinated.
Bee Kia Seafood Restaurant is located at 1 Thomson Rd, #01-326 Balestier Hill Shopping Centre, Singapore 300001, p. +65 6254 8490. Open daily 12pm–11pm.
Ah Tan Wings
At just 25, Tan Wee Yang (aka Ah Tan) turned his childhood love of har cheong gai into a hawker business devoted to the dish. Despite having no prior culinary experience, he fried up hundreds of variations till he perfected his wings – marinated for two days, then double fried with two different batters to achieve that ultra-crisp, netting-like crust. Share a juicy platterful of Shrimp Paste Wings (S$1.80 per wing), or make it a meal with the Wing Wing (S$5.20) set featuring two wings and an egg atop fragrant rice.
Ah Tan Wings has two outlets in Singapore. The Yishun Park Hawker Centre branch is located at #01-40, 51 Yishun Ave 11, Singapore 768867. The Timbre+ branch is located at 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, #01-30, Singapore 139957.
Ban Leong Wah Hoe
Tracing its roots back to a humble caifan stall in the 1980s, Ban Leong Wah Hoe has been winning hearts with its Prawn Paste Chicken (S$8++) for decades. Its secret? A prawn paste made with 85% pure shrimp extract, covering every inch of the chicken with flavourful goodness. Deep-fried to a golden-brown crisp, these wings are nothing short of addictive. Make it a proper feast with their signature seafood dishes, including chili crab and stir-fried lala.
Ban Leong Wah Hoe is located at 122 Casuarina Rd, Singapore 579510, p. +65 6452 2824. Open daily 11am–2pm and 5pm–10.30pm.
No.5 Emerald Hill
Cocktail bar it may be, but No.5 is famed for two things: the peanut shells that litter its floor liberally, and its scrumptious Chicken Wings. Marinated in shrimp sauce and Chinese wine, these wings waft a heady fragrance and crackle deliciously with every bite. They’re none too greasy and almost light on the tongue – it’s easy to find yourself scarfing down the whole basket alongside a couple of their signature martinis.
No.5 Emerald Hill is located at 5 Emerald Hill Rd, Singapore 229289, p. +65 6732 0818. Open daily 12pm–10.15pm.
Pow Sing Restaurant
You might know Pow Sing better for their stellar take on Hainanese chicken rice, but their other chicken offerings aren’t to be outshone. Their Prawn Paste Fried Chicken Wings (S$9 for four, S$13 for six) come wrapped in a somewhat thicker batter that yields tender, juicy flesh. The prawn paste flavours are well-balanced and not too savoury – ideal as a side dish with your chicken rice or white beehoon.
Pow Sing Restaurant has two outlets across Singapore. The Serangoon branch is located at 59 Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555961, p. +65 6284 0800. The Jewel Changi branch is located at 78 Airport Boulevard, #B2-201/202, Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore 819666, p. +65 6243 3155.
Fuman Seafood Zi Char
This zichar chain is beloved for a medley of dishes bucking conventions – think claypot hor fun and honey milk pork cubes – but its Prawn Paste Chicken (S$12++) is solidly and satisfyingly classic. Each wing comes large and meaty, with plenty of crunch – though the mouthfeel might be a little too greasy for some. Savour with their sprawling array of fried rice, noodles, and claypot dishes.
Fuman Seafood Zi Char has outlets in Hougang Ave 8, Yishun Street 81, and Anchorvale Crescent.
Oriole Coffee + Bar
Har cheong gai gets a modern makeover at this stylish Orchard cafe. While Oriole Coffee + Bar still dishes out a classic Har Cheong Gai (S$16) amped up with sambal belachan, they’ve also given it a Western form. The Har Cheong Gai & Sambal Belachan Burger (S$16) features tender, shrimp paste-marinated chicken thigh sandwiched between fluffy buns, paired with the cafe staple of sweet potato fries. Where else can you enjoy your prawn paste chicken alongside nitro cold brew?
Oriole Coffee + Bar is located at 96 Somerset Road #01-01, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, Singapore 238163, p. +65 6238 8348. Open daily 10am–10.30pm.
Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup
Come for the mee sua, stay for the har cheong gai. This well-loved supper spot sizzles up a solid Deep Fried Prawn Paste Chicken (S$12.80++) with a mouthwateringly crisp batter. While the prawn paste flavours come through nicely, they’re light enough that you could polish off a whole plate without too much effort.
Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup is located at 467 Changi Rd, Singapore 419892, p. +65 6746 4089. Open daily 11.30am–2am.
Top Image: Ah Tan Wings