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中泰小食 Zhong Tai: Hidden zi char stall with black pepper Hokkien mee & mermaid eggplant in Woodlands

I explored the residential area in Woodlands opposite Woods Square in search of 中泰小食 Zhong Tai, a zi char stall that was recommended to us by one of our readers of Sethlui.com. Ironically, I didn’t expect to be back at the same neighbourhood where my partner and I usually park the car to explore Causeway Point.

zhong tai zi char - kopitiam
zhong tai zi char - kopitiam

I was on Google Maps, searching for the coffee shop and suddenly… there it was, right in front of me. It was rather elusive and located below a multi-storey carpark; it’s no wonder I hadn’t noticed its existence till that day.

zhong tai zi char - stall front
zhong tai zi char - stall front

中泰小食 Zhong Tai has been in operation for the past 7 years and the menu offers a wide spread of zi char dishes. I had a tough time deciding on my food as there were so many options.

What I tried at 中泰小食 Zhong Tai

If you’ve been reading my articles, you’d notice that I always try to order the non-conventional menu items. I spotted K.L Hokkien Mee (S$6.50/S$11/S$14) on the menu, but I found it boring since it’s gaining popularity everywhere.

So as an alternative, I went for the Dried Fried Hokkien Mee with Black Pepper (S$6.50/S$11/S$14) instead. The S$6.50 portion is sufficient for 2 pax if you order other dishes as well.

The fat udon-like noodles were stir fried with prawns, fishcake, pork slices, tau geh, cabbage, egg and garnished with slices of lettuce.

zhong tai zi char - black pepper hokkien mee
zhong tai zi char - black pepper hokkien mee

The noodles had a nice underlying spiciness and aroma coming from the fine specks of black pepper which were clinging onto the dough surfaces; it also possessed a slight sweetness at the end. From what I know from my experience, I suspect they use a pre-mix black pepper sauce to stir fry this dish.

While the wok hei was hardly noticeable, I found the noodles to be absolutely delicious, and the ample gravy coated all the ingredients perfectly.

zhong tai zi char - noodle closeup
zhong tai zi char - noodle closeup

The stall didn’t skimp on the ingredients; the slices of pork, prawns and bits of fishcake were all substantial and fresh. The dish was a breath of fresh air compared to the usual plates of KL Hokkien mee I’ve eaten.

zhong tai zi char - ingredients
zhong tai zi char - ingredients

The next dish that I tried had a cute name— Mei Ren Yu Eggplant (S$12); it translates to mermaid in Chinese!  It consisted of deep-fried eggplant strips and dried sole fish stir fried with dried chilli, curry leaves and slices of lemongrass.

zhong tai zi char - egg plant
zhong tai zi char - egg plant

When I picked up the pieces of eggplant, they actually resembled mermaid tails. But after discovering the pieces of dried sole fish (deep-fried) that were tossed together, I knew that the dish name was derived from these small crispy fellas (mei ren yu fish).

You’ll be greeted by 2 waves of crispiness hitting you one after another. Firstly, the eggplant pieces had a solid crunchy exterior but still maintained a slight fluffiness within. Next, the pieces of dried sole fish had a crackling effect to them; both were ASMR-worthy!

The slight sweetness coming from the rock sugar honey glaze was satisfying, and the fried curry leaves and dried chilli enhanced the piquancy even further.

zhong tai zi char - egg plant closeup
zhong tai zi char - egg plant closeup

We then moved on to the Dry Curry with Pork (S$12). There were slices of pork with onions, tomatoes, curry leaves and lemongrass doused in curry. I was surprised that the dry curry turned out to be an oasis rather than a desert with the amount of gravy that I could scoop up.

zhong tai zi char - pork curry
zhong tai zi char - pork curry

The pork slices were tenderised to death and the curry had a prominent and aromatic flavour profile that immediately awakened my taste buds. The blend of tomato chunks, curry leaves and lemongrass created a symphony of tastes which uplifted the dish.

zhong tai zi char - pork curry closeup
zhong tai zi char - pork curry closeup

The last dish we tried was the Chinese Sausage Omelette (S$7). It was just a basic open-faced Chinese-style omelette with slices of Chinese sausage lying on top of large pieces of lettuce.

zhong tai zi char - omelette
zhong tai zi char - omelette
zhong tai zi char - chinese sausage omelette closeup
zhong tai zi char - chinese sausage omelette closeup

The omelette itself was fluffy and moist, providing a delicate canvas for the flavours of the Chinese sausage to shine. It wasn’t an overly complex dish but had a comforting and nostalgic taste which reminded me of my late grandmother’s home-cooked food.

Final thoughts

zhong tai zi char - overview of dishes
zhong tai zi char - overview of dishes

I had a great time sharing a zi char meal with my dining partners.

We relished the family-style dishes and it sparked our curiosity about the flavours of their other offerings. I guess we shall find out next time.

Expected damage: S$5 – S$11 per pax

The post 中泰小食 Zhong Tai: Hidden zi char stall with black pepper Hokkien mee & mermaid eggplant in Woodlands appeared first on SETHLUI.com.