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Singapore teases travel-hungry Filipinos with Zi Char dishes

When we travel again, our first stop will be familiar and safe destinations. 

HEARTY SPREAD. Singapore’s Zi Char-style of cooking covers a wide range of dishes, including (from left) Cereal Prawn, Chili Crab, Coffee Pork Ribs, and Har Cheong Gai.
“Studies have shown that the first wave of travel for people will be domestic travel. In the next wave, when we open to international travel, people will start traveling in the neighboring countries,” said John Conceicao, executive director for Southeast Asia of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). 

Basing their forecast on said studies, Singapore is expecting to welcome Filipinos on the day we can just up and leave the country and experience the world outside of our homes without worrying about catching a virulent disease. 

“Safety will be attractive to travelers,” added Conceicao. “And Singapore has a reputation for being a safe destination and familiar to Filipinos.”

But since we here in the Pearl of the Orient cannot yet enjoy what The Lion City offers in its “Singapore Reimagined” campaign, STB is hyping Filipinos up as it introduces Zi Char (tse - chah), a cooking style influenced by home-cooked food. 

Zi Char, derived from the Hokkien words for cooking and frying, is based loosely on Chinese cooking peppered with Indian, Malay, and Peranakan influences. The cooking style covers a wide range of dishes, from humble prawn paste chicken and sambal kangkong to fancier crabs and oysters.

Popular fares include Seafood White Bee Hoon (similar to our traditional pancit bihon but wetter), Har Cheong Gai (shrimp paste chicken), Cereal Prawn, Coffee Pork Ribs, Chili Crab, and more.

“Filipino foodies are always game to try new dishes and flavors. We hope to appeal to their sense of adventure by introducing this unique cooking style and creative dishes from Singapore,” said Ruby Liu, STB area director for the Philippines.

STB is optimistic Zi Char will entice Pinoys who love to try new food and share them with loved ones, citing “trying new things” and “sharing experiences with family and friends” as another factors that will drive tourism post-pandemic. 

Zi Char dishes are cooked to order and hearty, yet easy on the pocket.
Zi Char dishes, according to the tourism board, are cooked to order and customized to one’s liking, and are hearty yet easy on the pocket.

STB has tapped Marvin Agustin to star in its web series where he will learn how to make popular Zi Char dishes from Singaporean chef Bjorn Shen. In the series, entitled “Singapore Reimagined,” Agustin will make his reimagined dishes using ingredients easily found in the Philippines. 

Also part of the Philippine campaign are husband-and-wife Yael and Karylle Yuzon and comedian Victor Anastacio.

Topics: John Conceicao , Singapore Tourism Board , Zi Char , Singapore Reimagined , Marvin Agustin
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