Tag Archives: dim sum

Royal China @ Raffles Hotel



Apparently part of the Royal China restaurants in London means that this is, I think, the only restaurant in Singapore that does crispy aromatic duck pancakes. I’m happy to be wrong so please let me know if you know otherwise. The good thing about Royal China being at the beautiful Raffles Hotel, means a duck that has been braised in aromatic spices like star anise and cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorns, then roasted till crispy crispiness, entirely shredded and eaten in a soft, thin, flour pancake, with hoisin sauce, sliced shallots and cucumber for freshness (unlike Peking duck where just the skin of a roasted duck is served in the pancakes) (which is also delicious but crispy aromatic duck is just super yum), is just a ten minute walk from my flat – yay!

We went this Chinese New Year to celebrate with friends and we also treated ourselves to lobster noodles, a Cantonese special – noodles are meant to represent longevity (but can be eaten and enjoyed any time) and lobster, well, it’s lobster 🙂 Braised noodles topped with lobster, shallots and ginger is just such a winning dish.

It’s an odd restaurant set up-wise. High ceilings make it feel like it’s a huge restaurant but there actually aren’t a lot of seats/tables available so best to book as it gets full quickly especially for dim sum on weekends.

Royal China
#03-09 Raffles Hotel Arcade

OPENING HOURS:
Mon – Sat: 12:00 – 15:00
Sun & PH: 11:00 – 15:00
Mon – Sun: 18:00 – 22:30

Tel: 6338 3363

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Tung Lok Classics @ Chinese Swimming Club

The insanely good suckling pig served on doughy pancakes with sweet sauce and cucumber

Going to Chinese restaurants is, to me, still a bit of a treat. Perhaps it’s because growing up I always ate in Chinese restaurants with my family, so going without my parents feels like a really “grown up” thing to do – even though I am now older than my parents when they migrated to Sydney !

Of course living in Singapore I have ready access to a multitude of great Chinese restaurants, and one of our regular restaurants is Tung Lok Classics at the Chinese Swimming Club on Amber Road.

It serves a lot of your standard Chinese dishes, and they also serve a delicious range of Chinese herbal soups. I love that the soup comes out in a huge earthenware pot where they ladle out individual soup bowls. The tradition of cooking soup in the claypot somehow makes it feel almost fortifying.

Paper-wrapped chicken baked in rock salt

We’ve tried some of their more unusual dishes like paper-wrapped chicken cooked in rock salt, and while it was tender and delicately flavoured from the rock salt, we couldn’t quite put our finger on why it wasn’t a firm favourite. I couldn’t work out the flavours that were with the chicken in the bag.

Peking duck – slices of crispy duck skin in thin pancakes with shallot and cucumber

Our favourites: Peking Duck – whole (or half but why eat in halves ??) duck that has been seasoned with five spices and then roasted and hung in special ovens so the fat renders, leaving the skin super thin and crispy. At the table, skilled staff then cut away the skin, and this is served in pancakes with a sweet hoisin sauce, cucumbers and spring onions for a fresh zing. The meat that is left on the duck is then removed and you can have it fried with thick noodles or rice.

The other favourite is suckling pig. Similar to the Peking duck, the skin on the pig is roasted till crisp, and this is served with a slightly sweet doughy slice of pancake and sweet sauce. The combination of the salt and sweet, crunchy and soft textures is just pure bliss.

Any recommendations for great Chinese food in Singapore? I’m definitely keen to expand my repertoire, and until I get to try those, Tung Lok Classics remains one of our go-to’s for our Chinese food-fix. I’m also keen to check out their dim sum menu during the day.

Tung Lok Classics 
Chinese Swimming Club
#03-00
21 Amber Road
Singapore 439870
Tel: +65 6345 0111

Opening Hours:
Mondays to Saturdays
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6.00pm -10.30pm

Sundays & PH
Lunch: 10.00am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6.00pm -10.30pm


Hoorah – I’ve found the best dim sum in Singapore!

Roasted belly pork

I have been on an ongoing quest to find the best dim sum in Singapore since I arrived here five years ago. And for sure, there are plenty that I haven’t visited, but I don’t think I need to look much farther than Lei Garden on Orchard Road.

Prawn rice rolls 

The quality of the food there is exceptional. With dim sum, there always has been a few things which showcase the true skill of the chef. One is the dumpling skin/rice rolls. These are made by hand – I’ve watched chefs do this and the speed in which they roll out individual dumpling skins (and if you think that they can serve up to 700 of just one type of dumpling in one seating) is a delight to watch. So to be fair, anything they can produce like that is amazing, but we are spoiled creatures of choice, so thick, doughy dumplings are indicative of a lack of true skill. The rice rolls at Lei Garden are thin and smooth and so slippery you could almost swallow each mouthful without chewing.

In fact, everything they do with flour – be it rice or wheat, is light and airy and just makes you want to order more (which is exactly what we did).

Their char siu buns were fluffy pillows of soft, steamed buns filled with sweet barbequed pork. And they really select the best pork – their roast pork is probably the best I’ve had in Singapore. The belly pork has the fat thinly and evenly layered and the skin is divinely crisp.

Pan-fried radish cake

Their radish cake – finely shredded radish and rice flour, cut into squares and pan-fried was not oily, but crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft inside.

I’d suggest making a reservation because it was full by midday on a Saturday and it’s not a huge restaurant. The quest is never over, but for now, I’m absolutely thrilled that I can get the same quality of dim sum that I have missed so much from Sydney.

Lei Garden Orchard
#03-00 Orchard Shopping Centre
321 Orchard Road
Singapore
Tel: 6734 3988

Open for lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6pm – 11.00pm


Dim Sum @ Victoria Peak

Quail’s egg and pig’s trotters stewed with black vinegar and ginger 

Orchard Central is a really odd shopping centre. In a city where shopping is a heritage and a true pastime, you would think that whoever is going to develop a shopping centre on prime location at Orchard Road, would be in tune with the psychology of shopping – make it easy for shoppers to spend. Mind you, Ion just down the road is also a similarly horrendous labyrinth of shops and that’s always packed, but perhaps it’s the type of stores they have there (for example, flagship stores of high-end brands) that draws the crowds.

Char siew pork steamed rice rolls

Anyway, I digress. On the difficult-to-get-to-if-you-don’t-know-that-the-lifts-to-level-11-are-only-on-some-of-the-floors (phew!) is Victoria Peak, presumably named after the famous mountain of the same name in Hong Kong.

Steamed BBQ pork buns

Recommended by a friend, we went today and we were impressed that at not only the range of the food available was, but also the quality. Restaurants that serve dim sum here in Singapore usually also have a la carte items available, and the actual dim sum menu is fairly limited. Victoria Peak is no different, but the range of dishes available on their dim sum menu was broader than the usual three types of dumplings, one rice roll and steamed BBQ pork buns.  Having said that, this is  dim sum, after all, so we did order the three types of dumplings, two types of rice rolls (ooh!) and the steamed BBQ pork buns 🙂  We also ordered some specialities like quail’s eggs and pig’s trotters stewed in black vinegar, soy and ginger, and fried salmon skin, which I have only ever had at one other dim sum.  The overall quality of the food was excellent.

Attentive waiters, an impressive selection of fine wines, should you fancy it (maybe at dinner time rather than with dim sum), completed the circle of good. Just remember how you got there or you might struggle to get out on to street level again.

Victoria Peak
Level 11, 181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central
Tel: +65 6238 7666

Opening Hours
Mon–Sat:11.30am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm
Sun & PH:11am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm

Yum cha at Golden Peony Cantonese Restaurant

Siew mai – pork dumplings topped with whole prawn

I woke up with a craving for yum cha/dim sum today. D had recently been to Golden Peony and suggested we give it a go.

This award-winning Cantonese restaurant in the Conrad Hotel serves a-la-carte yum cha at any time, with some specials only available during Sunday lunch.

It lacked a lot of my yum cha staples – the only ones on the menu being fried carrot cake, steamed glutinous rice with chicken in bamboo leaf and char siew pau – steamed roast pork buns.

I understand that a restaurant of this calibre needs to up the ante to differentiate it from other restaurants, but the other items on the menu just didn’t appeal to someone like me who likes her staples.

Har gau – prawn dumplings

We ordered the har gau that did not appear on the menu, and they came with bright green dumpling skins – no explanation as to what it was, but the skin was a little too thick and doughy for my liking.

Diced duck in Portuguese sauce “puff”

Another order was diced duck in a Portuguese sauce in a crispy shell.  This was served to us in the shape of perfect curry puff pastry – lots of layers to be seen.  The filling was forgettable – a sweet goo with few pieces of duck to be seen.

The siew mai on offer was the traditional pork/prawn mix but topped with an enormous prawn.  Kudos to the chef who didn’t soak these in bicarbonate of soda so the prawns are not unrealistically crunchy.  This was lovely.

Fried tofu skin topped with pan-fried tofu skin and suckling pig

One special dish we ordered was a sheet of deep fried tofu skin, topped with thin slices of pan-fried foie gras and then covered with a square of suckling pig crackling – how could that go wrong??  Worked very very well, and the wasabi prawns that was also served were delicious as well.

Overall, I think this would be a terrific restaurant to have a business lunch at.  For someone that just wants good old fashioned dim sum, my search continues.

Golden Peony
3F Conrad Hotel
2 Temasek Boulevard
Tel: 6432 748


Jumbo Seafood @ SAFRA

Pork ribs in black bean sauce

I was bemoaning to my friend that I didn’t find the time to eat yum cha during my short trip to Hong Kong recently, and she promptly said that this weekend we would go and eat yum cha (or dim sum as it’s called everywhere I know other than Hong Kong and Sydney) at the SAFRA outlet of Jumbo Seafood.

Yum cha starts at 10am and the menu is limited but all the usual suspects are there in the menu – from prawn rice rolls to siew mai or pork dumplings and pan-fried carrot cake.

There are a few of the usual Jumbo Restaurant items that were on a separate menu – fried rice and noodles, and also salt and pepper whitebait and fried fish skin.  Now I wonder if your face when you read “fried fish skin” was the same as mine when I read it.  However, this is just another reason why you have to just take the plunge sometimes and try new things.  My friend actually arrived a little late as she was picking up her brother who had just run the Standard Chartered marathon, and ordered this dish.  It turned up exactly as you would expect it to, and there was absolutely none of the expected fishiness when you ate it.  Just crunchy, lightly floured and seasoned, thin pieces of wafer thin skin.  For those of you who have had the luxury of eating pork scratchings, it weirdly reminded us of that !  Go figure.

Fried fish skin

And the other two outstanding dishes were the char siew pau – steamed pork buns, and the char siew soh – char siew in a sweet flaky pastry.  The dough of the steamed pork buns was light and airy and the overall taste wasn’t overpoweringly sweet or heavy.

Char siew pau

After lunch you can take a wander around the resort grounds.  All in all, a very relaxed way to experience pretty great yum cha.

Jumbo Seafood @ SAFRA
National Service Resort & Country Club
10, Changi Coast Walk, Singapore 499739

Tel: 6552 3435
11.30am to 3:00pm (lunch daily)
Last order at 2:15pm
6.00pm to 10.30pm (dinner daily)
Last order at 10:15pm


Chinese New Year at Jade

Much to my embarrassment, this year, my Western friend had to remind me that perhaps we should go out this Chinese New Year to celebrate by eating.  Shocking, I know.  I was quite keen to go back to Jing again, as D had not yet been, but that was closed for the new year, so we made a reservation at Jade at the Fullerton, which, to my surprise, offered the same buffet-style dim sum.

I didn’t have any real expectations, but I suppose I would have equated it to the level of Jing, and I was disappointed in both the quality of the food as well as the service.  It didn’t seem to me to be of the level I’d expect from the Fullerton.  The whole setup seemed like there was not enough staff to take the orders of patrons and serve as well – all the wait staff looked harrassed and stressed.  There was a very limited dim sum menu, and a fairly extensive non dim sum menu – all the food took a while to come, and was served luke warm to cold and the food itself was quite average.  Add to that, there are two seatings on Sundays, 11.30 – 1.15 and 1.45 – 3.00 which made it an even more rushed affair.

The one good thing was that we were able to order an extra dish which was not included in the buffet – yu sang, or loh hei, a fresh salmon salad made up of ingredients that each represent good fortune for the new  year.  The waitress who served it actually took the time to explain what each meant (which we did noticed was mostly about prosperity) which we happily tossed at the table, making a mess, and celebrating the beginning of the new lunar year.

Nothing much else to say other than Gong Xi Fa Cai ! (and happy Valentine’s Day !)

Jade

1 Fullerton Square
The Fullerton Hotel

Tel: +65 6877 8188


Jing at One Fullerton

There’s a small group of friends here in Singapore who have lived in Sydney and crave the all-favourite yum cha (dim sum here in Singapore).  I’ve tried a few here, from Crystal Jade at Paragon, to the two Lei Gardens (at CHIJMES and Orchard) and while the food is lovely, all seem to have a very upmarket feel to them, where dumplings are ordered by the piece from a menu.  For me, the experience of yum cha enhances the enjoyment of the food.  The hustle and bustle of people all trying to talk over each other as they tuck in to their bamboo steamers to grab the next siew mai or har gau, the trolleys trundling through the tables, where you get to see what’s on offer, allowing you to try food you haven’t tried before, it’s even the curt but ever-so-efficient staff, where turnover is their primary goal.

On a recommendation from Kelly, a small group of us decided to try Jing, at One Fullerton.  Jing is award winning chef Yong Bing Ngen’s second joint venture with hotelier Loh Lik Peng. Chef Yong is well known for serving up excellent modern Chinese food and made his name first at Pan Pacific Hotel’s Hai Tien Lo, and then at the Majestic Restaurant (where he won many many awards).

They have an a-la-carte menu, but on weekends, you can order off the menu, buffet-style.  A few items like desserts and the peking duck can be selected at a counter, where the skin is carved and served to-order.The restaurant itself is modern and warm, unlike the usual stark Chinese restaurants, and I think the whole making people get up and walking around in itself greatly relaxes the vibe of any place.  It’s a full house, and now we know why.

The variety of food available to you to order is dazzling.  Not all of them strictly yum cha, to be fair, for example you can get chilli crab.  I ordered the first round – usual staples of siew mai, har gau and pan-fried carrot cake and the like and all of them were well executed, especially in this buffet-style.  Sydney standards are pretty high, given that yum cha chefs in Sydney can earn up to $100K and are in high demand to serve the never ending queues of people waiting to be seated, and our table talk focused purely on how good the dim sum at Jing was.

Last orders are at 2.30, and by then, my friends and I were well and truly happy and full of dumplings and soft shelled crab.  A lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, I see many more visits to Jing with my friends.

JING
One Fullerton, #01-02/03
1 Fullerton Road
Singapore 049213

Tel: 6224 0088

Opening Hours
Lunch – 11.45am to 3pm
Last order – 2.30pm