Western stalls in Singapore’s hawker scene have evolved steadily over the years, with many offering atas selections like Wagyu steak and pork tomahawk. Though I love finding premium, restaurant-style dishes in humble coffeeshops and hawker centres, I’ve found that nothing can beat the comforting taste of simple old school Western fare. If you feel the same, perhaps you should visit Zi Jia Xi Can.
Zi Jia Xi Can is a humble old school Western stall in a coffeeshop in Kovan, serving up all your favourite nostalgic Western treats— each of their proteins comes paired with fries, coleslaw, baked beans and a fried bun, in true old school fashion. You can even get rice dishes, like the Chicken Wing Rice, which only costs S$3.50!
I was surprised to find that the stall also served curry puffs and giant fish balls, on top of their Western food selection.
What I tried at Zi Jia Xi Can
I started off with my favourite old school Western dish, the iconic Chicken Cutlet (S$5.50). I was amazed at how generous the portion of the chicken was, especially given the affordable price tag. The chicken cutlet was massive, and was even bigger than my whole hand!
Zi Jia Xi Can’s Chicken Cutlet was absolute perfection. The surface was fried to a gorgeous golden brown shade, with an addictive crunch as I bit into it. The chicken meat was tender and juicy, and paired excellently with its crispy crust.
The fried bun on the side was unfortunately not as impressive. The surface of the bun was oddly soggy, assumedly from oil, and wasn’t crispy at all. The inner part of the bread was a little dry too. Perhaps the bun could have been left in the fryer for a longer period of time.
I quite enjoyed the coleslaw, as it was light, refreshing and creamy. Though it was pretty average, it was still a great pairing with the oilier fried elements of the dish.
Finally, the fries were nice and crisp with a good amount of salt on them. Zi Jia Xi Can’s Chicken Cutlet tasted like something straight out of my childhood, with its nostalgic flavours and comforting taste. The huge size of the cutlet was definitely commendable too.
I tried Zi Jia Xi Can’s Beef Steak (S$8), and was delighted at how the portions were equally as large as the Chicken Cutlet.
When I cut into the Beef Steak, I was confused, to say the least. While I had expected a proper steak, Zi Jia Xi Can’s version was more like a patty, with an assortment of loose, smashed up parts and minced meat making up the steak.
Moving past my initial confusion on the unorthodox nature of the steak, I liked how flavourful the meat was, as it had a light peppery flavour. The brown sauce on top was slightly savoury, and though it was rather one-dimensional in terms of taste, it was effective in making the Beef Steak a little tastier.
I decided to try out Zi Jia Xi Can’s Curry Puff, which was large in size, yet only cost S$1.20.
The puff was not too oily and was generously stuffed with curried potatoes and bits of a hard-boiled egg. The curry puff wasn’t outstanding, as the fillings tasted quite ordinary and salty, but the cheap price made it a very affordable yet filling snack to satisfy my curry puff cravings.
Zi Jia Xi Can’s old school Western dishes hit the spot when it came to evoking a sense of nostalgia in me. Their dishes were tasty and comforting, and I loved how despite being relatively cheap, the stall did not scrimp on the portions.
The Chicken Cutlet is a definite must-try when you visit. If you ever find yourself in Kovan, do drop by if you’re in the market for some good ol’ classic Western fare.
Expected damage: S$3.50 – S$9 per pax