Ah, the humble sweet and sour pork. Also known as gu lou yuk, this is a classic zi char dish that exists at almost every Chinese restaurant in Singapore.
Typically, sweet and sour pork consists of deep-fried pork nuggets that are coated in a tangy tomato-based sauce, and comes accompanied with pineapples and bell peppers.
Though it might look straightforward, it’s also one that’s infamous for going horribly wrong— are the fried pork nuggets coated with too much flour or too little meat? Is the dish drowning in tomato sauce, or is the gravy too sweet?
This article is for all you sweet & sour pork fans, because we’ve sussed out the 10 places to visit for the best sweet and sour pork in Singapore.
1. Paradise Classic
As one of the popular dining concepts under homegrown Paradise Group, it should come as no surprise that the #1 spot rated on our list goes to Paradise Classic.
Well-loved for dishing out local classics which reminds you of home, Paradise Classic has 3 outlets at Bedok Mall, Jewel Changi Airport and Marina Bay Link Mall. Word has it that they’re even opening a 4th outlet at The Woodleigh Mall in May 2023!
At Paradise Classic, a plate of Crispy Sweet and Sour Pork costs S$16.30. The minute I popped the first piece of pork in my mouth, I couldn’t stop— it was that addictive.
What made this traditional dish stand out among the rest was its incredibly crispy exterior. When I bit into it, there was an audible crunch! The batter was wonderfully executed, and what was even better was that it was well-balanced with the amount of pork meat on the inside too.
Most sweet and sour pork dishes are unbalanced in some way or another, be it in the amount of ingredients or the taste of the sauce, but I loved Paradise Classic’s rendition as it was well rounded in every aspect. The homemade sweet and sour sauce was tangy without being too artificially sweet, and there were plenty of deep-fried pork nuggets, as well as other ingredients like red onions, pineapples and bell peppers.
While I’d say that the Crispy Sweet and Sour Pork goes perfectly well with a bowl of fluffy white rice, those dining in a larger group will definitely need to pair this zi char classic with other staples dishes.
At Paradise Classic, I recommend the Braised Big Prawn Hor Fun with Prawn Broth (S$13.90 for regular, S$20.90 for large). This isn’t just any other hor fun dish— it’s made using a homemade prawn broth prepared using fresh prawns and spices.
You can also order the Hot Plate Tofu with Preserved Cai Xin and Minced Pork (S$15.90) and Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Egg Yolk (S$12.90), both of which are popular zi char items.
2. Social Place
Making waves in social media thanks to its contemporary and creative interior is Social Place, which is located within Forum the Shopping Mall at Orchard Road.
Social Place hails from Hong Kong, and while it remains as one of its most popular restaurants, what makes this restaurant so different from the rest? Its unique decor, as some of the walls are covered in mahjong tiles.
The showstopper dish at Social Place is Sweet & Sour Pork on Ice (S$24.80)— yes, you heard me right! This features deep-fried pork tossed in a tangy and sweet sauce, and accompanied by plenty of ice. Interestingly, it also comes with mini spheres of melons and blueberries for added sweetness.
The ice isn’t just for aesthetics though. It’s an actual trick of Social Place’s to keep the battered pork crisp, while the meat on the inside remains tender yet chewy.
3. Chin Lee Restaurant
For a solid zi char meal in the heartlands, check out Chin Lee Restaurant. This well-established Teochew restaurant, which was established in 1973, is located at 115 Bedok North Road, and with 1,360 Google reviews and a 4.3 star rating, a meal at this eatery will definitely satisfy you and your family.
Succulent, crispy and filled with meaty pork, a plate of Sweet & Sour Pork from Chin Lee Restaurant comes in 3 sizes: Small (S$18), Medium (S$23) and Large (S$35). This is a classic zi char dish that’s consistently done well, and is served with plenty of crunchy bell peppers and onions for variety.
For the full Teochew dining experience at Chin Lee Restaurant, pair your Sweet & Sour Pork with other recommended dishes, like Chilled Teochew Pig Trotter Jelly (from S$10) and Coffee Pork Ribs (from S$19).
4. Sik Bao Sin
With only 13 items on its menu (and no prices to boot), Sik Bao Sin is the epitome of a classic Cantonese zi char restaurant. In fact, its name means “eat your fill first” in Cantonese!
Sik Bao Sin is run by Desmond Chia, who grew up in his father’s restaurant, Sik Wai Sin, which opened in 1968. To ensure that each item is perfectly cooked according to traditional recipes, every single dish here is cooked by Desmond himself, so you can expect to wait an average of 60 minutes for your food.
Desmond’s Sweet & Sour Pork is so highly raved that it can take up to 90 minutes to make, according to the Michelin Guide. It follows an old-school taste, with larger than average deep-fried pork slices that are coated in a tangy sauce.
As there are no prices on its menu, do ask the staff while ordering to avoid getting any unpleasant shocks when the bill arrives. According to online reviews, prices can range from anywhere between S$13 to S$28 per dish. They also don’t take reservations too, so either come early or be prepared to queue!
592 Geylang Road, (Between Lorong 34 & 36 Geylang), Singapore 389531
+65 6744 3757
Tue to Sun: 11.45am – 2.30pm & 5.45pm – 9.30pm
Closed on Mon
5. Jiang-Nan Chun
Award-winning Jiang-Nan Chun is a truly exquisite space. Nestled in Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, this epicurean fine-dining restaurant is inspired by the paradise-like region of Jiang Nan, and this is embodied all the way from its plush, elegant interior to its authentic Cantonese dishes.
If you’re ordering Jiang-Nan Chun’s Sweet and Sour Pork from its à la carte menu, it’ll cost you a hefty S$42, but you’re paying for real quality and a true fine-dining experience.
Its Sweet and Sour Pork comes with delectable deep-fried pork nuggets that are crispy yet tender, and are accompanied by fresh figs for an added honey-like sweetness.
While you’re here, be sure not to miss out on Jiang-Nan Chun’s Signature Jiang-Nan Chun Peking Duck (S$138), a must-try item which features mesquite wood-roasted peking duck with caviar.
6. Por Kee Eating House 1996
Hidden away in Tiong Bahru is Por Kee Eating House 1996. As its name suggests, this old-school zi char restaurant has been around since 1996, dishing out authentic Chinese food from its location at 69 Seng Poh Lane.
You can find this rustic, no-fuss eatery behind Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre, though most of its regular patrons will recognise it immediately from the throng of makeshift tables and chairs that line the entire walkway, which sometimes even eat into the carpark!
Por Kee’s Sweet Sour Pork is available in 3 sizes: Small (S$16), Medium (S$24) and Large (S$32). You can expect crispy, deep-fried pork cubes that are coated in a glistening sweet yet tangy sauce. Accompanying it are plenty of crunchy onions and bell peppers, and interestingly, it’s also topped with coriander.
Por Kee is known for its consistent quality and authenticity over the past decades, so you definitely can’t go wrong with a classic zi char dish like its Sweet Sour Pork. If you’re looking to supplement your order with other items, be sure to go for its signature Champagne Short Ribs (from S$26) and Hot Plate Venison (from S$20).
69 Seng Poh Lane, #01-02, Singapore 160069
+65 6221 0582
Tue to Sun: 11am – 2.30pm & 5pm – 10.45pm
Closed on Mon
7. Chef Kang’s
1-Michelin starred Chef Kang’s certainly deserves a spot on this list, and it’s a no-brainer why.
After spending 40 years working in a professional kitchen, Chef Kang (aka Chef Ang Song Kang) opened this simple establishment along Mackenzie Road in Little India serving classic Cantonese cuisine. And if you think that he shies away from the kitchen, think twice— Chef Kang still spends most of his time cooking, and in fact, he’s only assisted by another chef.
While Chef Kang still doles out a pretty classic plate of Stir-Fried Sweet and Sour Pork with Hawthorn Sauce (S$25 for small, S$45 for medium, S$65 for large), what differentiates him from the rest is the choice of pork used.
Chef Kang uses kurobuta pork (black pig), which is often known as the “wagyu of pork” thanks to its good distribution of marbling and tenderness. As a result, each cut of sweet and sour pork melts in your mouth, while still retaining that crispy exterior for a luxurious bite.
Be sure to call ahead of time to make a reservation, as there are limited private dining rooms and no walk-ins are allowed. Plus, Chef Kang is said to travel often for R&D, and when he does, the restaurant will be closed.
8. Sin Hoi Sai Eating House
Family-run Sin Hoi Sai should be familiar to most Easties and Tiong Bahru residents. The first outlet, Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant, was opened in 1978 by Madam Yap Sor Khim, and 3 years later, it expanded to East Coast Road as Sin Hoi Sai Eating House.
Currently, Madam Yap runs the operations at Sin Hoi Sai Eating House, while her sisters manage the Tiong Bahru branch.
I frequent the branch at East Coast often because it opens till 3am, making it a fantastic place to head to for supper. No frills, casual Chinese zi char food that always hits the spot— definite yum.
A plate of Sweet & Sour Pork starts from S$11 for Small and can go up to S$21 for the Large portion. Each piece of Sweet & Sour Pork comes tossed in a well-balanced, sticky sauce that’s neither too sweet nor too sour— the perfect balance. Plus, it also comes accompanied with a good amount of additional ingredients, such as onions, bell peppers and red cut chilli.
An important thing to note is that Sin Hoi Sai prides itself on not changing its prices in the last 30 years, so you can truly look forward to authentic zi char dishes whenever you’re here.
9. Oriental Chinese Restaurant
Tucked along New Bridge Road in Chinatown is Oriental Chinese Restaurant, and based on the fact that they have a stunning 4 star rating with 2,160 Google reviews, they just might be one of the most highly-rated Chinese restaurants in Singapore.
Several of its reviewers commented that “this was some of the best tasting Chinese food [they’ve] had for a few years”, while others agreed that this was “one of the best places for Mainland Chinese food after midnight” as they open till 6am daily!
As with most authentic Chinese restaurants, you’ve got your fair share of skewers and Sichuan dishes, such as Mapo Chilli Tofu (S$9.40), Fried Dried Chicken with Chilli & Pepper (S$17.30) and Szechuan Eggplant with Spicy Sauce (S$11.90).
While you’re at it, get the Sweet & Sour Pork (S$17.90), which comes with a small mountain of deep-fried crispy pork nuggets tossed in a liberal amount of tangy sweet and sour sauce.
10. Boon Tong Kee
With 8 outlets spread across Singapore, Boon Tong Kee has established itself as a household name for chicken rice since its inception in 1979 by Mr Thian Boon Hua. Its first restaurant was built at Balestier Road in 1983, and it’s still standing at the same location today!
Pair the Signature Boiled Chicken (from S$7), a sure staple at Boon Tong Kee, with a plate of Sweet and Sour Pork (S$14) and another fan-favourite, the Poached Chinese Spinach with Assorted Eggs (S$13).
What I particularly like about Boon Tong Kee’s Sweet and Sour Pork is how fleshy the deep-fried pork is— it resembles pork strips more than pork cubes, thus ensuring a chewy and meaty bite. Each piece is also tossed in a light coating of sweet and sour sauce, so that you’re able to taste the sweetness of the pork too.
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