Har gow, siew mai, xiao long bao and custard buns... here’s a tribute to our ultimate comfort food: dim sum
Dim sum, yum cha – call it what you want, but the debate never ends: which restaurant does it best in Singapore? We think the ultimate way to spend a lazy, indulgent weekend is to go for an ultra long dumpling session. As much as we love our cafe fare, dim sum is still our go-to comfort food. Here are some top-notch places to get your fix or har gow, siew mai, and them delectable custard buns…
Swatow Seafood Restaurant
Don’t let the name fool you. If you’re craving for authentic Teochew style dim sum and seafood, hop on over to one of the outlets. Star dishes are the Teochew five treasures crystal dumpling to the very cute goldfish dumpling. But if you’re ready for a feast, the dim sum hi-tea buffet will fill you up nicely.
Swatow Seafood Restaurant, 2 locations in Toa Payoh and Serangoon Gardens
Kow Loon Hong Kong Dim Sum
Located at an unassuming coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio, Kow Loon Hong Kong Dim Sum boasts over 50 handmade Hong Kong and Shanghai dim sum dishes. Try the har gao, prawn chee cheong fun, liu sa pao (salted egg yolk pao) and century egg and pork congee for a simple yet satisfying meal.
Kow Loon Hong Kong Dim Sum, #01-3030, Blk 151 Ang Mo Kio Ave 5 Singapore 560151, p. 9685 9371
126 Wan Dou Sek Dim Sum
This hangout in Geylang is famous for their dim sums, particularly their siew mai and chee cheong fun. Even our fave bartenders from Lulu’s Lounge head here for a quick supper or breakfast fix. There’s also a karaoke bar right next to this eatery, so you might want to bust out some Celine Dion tunes after you’re done satisfying the late-night munchies.
126 Wan Dou Sek Dim Sum, 126 Sims Ave, Singapore 387449
Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum
If you’re craving for dim sum on a dime, Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum is the place to be. At $2.30 per dish, these babies are a steal. This hawker stall in Chinatown wipes out hot favourites like char siew pau, prawn cheong fun, har gao and siew mai. Even though we’ve heard differing views about the xiao long bao (the skin can be a little thick sometimes), it’s truly a bang for your buck.
Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum, 335 Smith Street, #02-097 Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre Singapore 050335
Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant
Dim sum is typically a tea-time snack, but Swee Choon is no typical dim sum restaurant. Popular with the young crowd, it opens only in the evenings ’til late at night, it serves Cantonese and Shanghainese small bites, with prices that won’t exceed $7. Pile on the steamed goodies like the szechuan dumplings in chili oil, the classic shrimp har gow, and the chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls drenched in a sweet soy sauce). A personal tip: go with an empty stomach – it’s easy to over order here!
Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant, 183-191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882
Crystal Jade is a resto that comes to mind when one says the magic words, “dim sum buffet”, and it got major praise in our office poll for best xiao long bao. But with over 11 outlets in the city, it’s one of the more convenient spots to make a beeline for; especially if there’s one at your heartland mall. Some must-try dishes: ha kau (steamed prawn dumplings), siew mai with fish roe and carrot cake. Oh, and our honest advice is to stick to the main outlets – we tried the dim sum at its newish dining concept, Dim Sum Inc on Pagoda Street and suggest you leave this to the tourists.
Crystal Jade, various locations including Great World City, Holland Village, Plaza Singapura and The Centrepoint
Auntie’s Wok & Steam
Alley in 25 is an all-day dining experience that sits on the 25th floor of the newly opened luxury lifestyle hotel brand by Hyatt, Andaz Singapore. While Alley on 25 offers 5 different dining concepts and 1 great bar (each with a unique décor and dining experience that is centered around one food preparation method), we were drawn to one: Auntie’s Wok & Steam, which is an ode to local tze char (a Hokkien term used in Singapore to describe a stall that provides a wide selection of affordable, home-style meals) and dim sum joints. Some highlights are the steamed eggplant with silken tofu, brown fried rice, Jiao Zi dumplings filled with tiger prawn and chicken – dishes you’ll find at any dim sum restaurant here, but better.
Auntie’s Wok and Steam, Alley on 25 at Andaz Singapore, 5 Fraser St, Singapore 189354
Summer Palace at the Regent
This is not your average dim sum. Summer Palace has a Michelin star under its belt for good reason: just take a look at those squid ink and seafood dumplings. The Cantonese menu here is next level, but back to the dim sum. Think lobster dumplings, fried turnip cake in xo sauce, delicate steamed scallop dumplings and monthly specials like steamed chicken with mushroom and fish maw. The desserts here are divine: our chilled osmanthus pudding with wolfberries was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Summer Palace, Regent Singapore, A Four Seasons Hotel, Level 3, 1 Cuscaden Road, 249715
Dim sum is served for lunch and dinner though it is not the main bulk of the menu. The claypot braised chicken is the star of Myo but we have a few favourites from the dim sum menu. The gold foil dumplings with assorted mushroom, steamed siew mai with conpoy and black truffle, and walnut buns are just as delicious on the ‘gram and in your mouth but the standout is the flaky black angus pastry with its unforgettable black pepper filling. You know what to do!
Myo Restobar, 19-01 Oxley tower, 138 Robinson Rd, Singapore 068906
Dubbed ‘Chinese cuisine with a difference’, Taste Paradise offers an elaborate menu of fine Cantonese and contemporary Chinese cuisine with an impressive array of the finest and most innovative dim sum (think xiao long bao flavours from foie grass to garlic to cheese) and roast meats. You might want also want to try the famous XO carrot cake that has won 100 pointers from multiple food critics.
Taste Paradise, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, 04-07, Singapore 238801
Searching for dim sum with a twist? Cherry Garden offers authentic Cantonese cuisine with modern interpretations; expect unique items like crystal dumplings with assorted mushrooms and zucchini), steamed marinated chicken and wild rice dumplings, steamed onion and ginger beef dumplings, and more. Vegetarian? You’ll still have plenty to enjoy. What do we love most about Cherry Garden? The Sunday dim-sum brunch ($68 per adult), where you really can go for that fourth round of dumplings.
Cherry Garden, Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore 039797
Tang Tea House
Everyone knows Jalan Kayu for prata and teh tarik but if you’re in need of something different, Tang Tea House offers fried chicken, crispy fried noodles and giant glasses of their signature drink, the Super Cooler (young coconut with a shot of wheatgrass) and of course, a wide range of halal dim sum classics.
Tang Tea House, 242 Jln Kayu, Singapore 799466
Despite being located pretty centrally, this is probably the city’s best-kept secret. Their small store in Sunshine Plaza gets packed really fast at lunch time. The signature – carrot cake in XO sauce is a must-order here: don’t share the small-ish bowl if you’re really hungry. Other standouts include the King Prawn chee cheong fun and the xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
Victor’s Kitchen, 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-49 Sunshine Plaza, Singapore 189652
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is a classic, but for kid-friendly dim sum, we think it’s the best. Play it safe with xiao long bao, noodles, fried rice, or other dumplings. Save the chicken feet, beef tripe, and other adventurous stuff for when they’re older and game enough to take on a bigger palate.
Din Tai Fung, various locations
Tim Ho Wan
Here’s your chance to get Michelin star-worthy dim sum. The reason why this joint has long queues all the time? It’s surprisingly affordable! Don’t leave without trying the 4 Heavenly Kings – their signature char siew bun, chee cheong fan with pig’s liver, pan-fried carrot cake, and steamed egg cake.
Tim Ho Wan, various locations
Red Star Restaurant
Have your dim sum with a side of history! Red Star is run by the remaining chefs of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantonese cuisine – a group which gained fame and multiple culinary awards in the 1970s. These are the same guys responsible for inventing the famous Singapore dishes we eat so regularly today: chilli crab, yam ring and yu sheng. Today, Red Star is considered one of the more traditional and nostalgic restaurants for dim sum – for starters, it still employs traditional cart-pushing dim sum ladies like those in Hong Kong. The restaurant layout and recipes have remained unchanged since opening more than 40 years ago. It’s the experience of ordering char siew bao and century egg congee from the push carts and stations that you’re here for.
Red Star Restaurant, 54 Chin Swee Road, #07-23, Singapore 160054
Sum Yi Tai
Conceptualised to pay tribute to the decadent glamour of 1980s Hong Kong, Sum Yi Tai (meaning “Third Wife” in Cantonese) propels traditional Chinese cuisine into the realm of designer bars. For a slightly different experience to the wholesome family-friendly dim sum restaurant. Here, clink glasses to premium whiskey & fine wine, while dining on classic Cantonese dishes.
Sum Yi Tai, 25 Boon Tat St, Singapore 069622
(VLV is now closed.) Housed in a stunning heritage building along the Singapore riverfront, VLV Singapore is an effortless blend of stylish modernity and tradition. And they’ve got the tradition part right with the dim sum menu. Try the steamed crab roe Kurobuta siew mai for something adventurous but you can always depend on the classics like har gow, rice rolls, char siew buns and more.
VLV, 3A River Valley Road #01-02, Singapore 179020
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