Singapore: Sio Bak and Char Siu at 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist

Pork is my least favourite meat. I can easily pass up on the holiday lechon (roasted suckling pig) and coffee pork ribs—and I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Blame it on childhood trauma when I’d always find pork fat cubes with pig’s hair still sticking out of them floating inside the evening’s menudo. Gross! Growing up, my dad also suffered from physical ailments because of his health (he was a heavy drinker, smoker, and meat-eater), so we needed to lessen our porcine intake as a family.

BUT. I still get my cravings every now and then, especially liempo (grilled pork belly), sisig (pig’s mask aka beer’s best friend), and crunchy lechon kawali (deep-fried suckling pig) violently drowned in vinegar from my university’s famed eatery, Manang’s. Ahhh! Thinking about it now makes me want to book a flight to Manila and satisfy my yearning. But I must resist.

And, of course, I can’t forget Hong Kong and it’s street-side eateries selling roasted goose, ducks, slabs of crispy roast pork belly, and shiny char siu (barbecued pork). I spent a lot of childhood mornings eating fish congee with you tiao (deep-fried dough) and bo lo (pineapple shaped) buns dipped in condensed milk with my grandpa, but I’d always get my secret fix of roast meat plates accompanied by double servings of Hong Kong Milk Tea (made with Black & White evaporated milk!), too.

88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist at Tyrwhitt Road makes the case for awesome, awesome roasted meats here in Singapore. While I am not much of a fan of crispy roast pork belly (or sio bak, as the locals here call it) and char siu, I find myself riding a bus just to curb my craving. It also helps that it’s a stone’s throw away from my fiancé office. But seriously, the man making these delectable porcine creations is serious about his shit.

The crispy roast pork belly doesn’t feel like it came from a reused vat of oil; rather, each bite is consistently clean and crisp. The crackling skin gives way to a juicy, super-tender chunk of pork that has a trimming of fat, but not so much that it overwhelms. What’s great about it is that it has the right balance of crunch, fat, and soft, flavourful pork.

The char siu is caramelised to a dark, sweet perfection, but keeping the meat smoky and soft. I hear he uses malt sugar, which makes the surface nicely sticky. The sweetness from the sugar seeps into the meat, providing a nice, saccharine quality to the meat.

And please, don’t forget the chilli. I always both the wet orange type (that’s vinegar based) and the dry, burning type (I’d like to think it’s his version of sambal). Roast duck is also part of 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist’s offerings, but I catch myself ordering a loaded plate of pork every damn time. And extra rice, when I’m in the mood.

153 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207566
P: +65 8225-2495

(All meals are paid for myself unless stated otherwise.)

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