Dim Sum Shootout
2013-09-23
There's nothing that says Hong Kong cuisine more than dim sum. And in Singapore we have dim sum in abundance. So much so that it is not just about finding a dim sum place, but a good one at that. Taste is subjective. But we do the best we can. OpenRice chose 5 of the most commonly ordered dim sum dishes from 7 popular yum cha eateries, where we set our exacting standards and got a no-frill comparison of what we had. Char Siew Pau - Judging Criteria One of the staples in local yum cha culture, the Char Siew Pau has taken on countless variations. Be it steamed, fluffy white buns or crusted baked versions; we are looking for a bun encasing tender, slow-roasted pork tenderloin - diced char siew - prepared with a savoury marinade for the win. Winner: Baked Bun with BBQ Pork from Tim Ho Wan
Tim Ho Wan's take on Char Siew Pau certainly deserves its title of 1 of 4 Heavenly Kings at the Michelin-starred restaurant. Contrasting from most of the steamed, white fluffy counterparts, the baked bun is crusty with a sweet note inherent in the dough, faintly reminiscent of Hong Kong's Bo Lo Baos. The filling is sublime as well - tasty and savoury all at the same time. Now if only there was more than just a layer of that filling... Chee Cheong Fun - Judging Criteria You should be looking for freshly steamed Chee Cheong Fun rather than those which have already been made beforehand and reheated. Freshly made, Chee Cheong Fun would be moist, silky smooth enough to simply slide down the gullet yet firm enough to not break apart when picking it up. Winner: Wen Dou Sek (Geylang)
There is no doubt in our minds that Wen Dou Sek dominated in the Chee Cheong Fun category. Each plate is served with 4 short rolls just nice for one mouthful. And what a mouthful – exquisitely smooth cheong fun packed tight with fillings of prawn or char siew. The prawns were fresh, succulent and the char siew, fragrant and savoury. The slightly heavier sweet sauce just helped to elevate the dish to the next level. Talk about blowing the competition out of the water. Must Try!!! Har Gow - Judging Criteria Every single Har Gow is an art unto itself. Stretching out piece of wheat starch as a wrap, we are looking for that perfect thickness – not so thick to come away as a mouthful of starch yet not so thin to tear and expose the valuable shrimp bounty within, which should be fresh and succulent. Did you know that traditionally, it is expected of Har Gow to have at least 7, if not 10 or more pleats on the wheat starch wrap? Winner: Asia Grand Restaurant
The Har Gow from Asia Grand got our vote for this one both in terms of presentation and taste. Intricate pleating on a lovely opalescent wrap through which you can glimpse the pink of the prawn. The thickness of the wrap was nicely done, allowing for the plump sweetness of the fresh, succulent shrimp to really shine through and take centre stage. Siew Mai - Judging Criteria A bouncy texture, you’ll want to feel that ‘bite’ to the filling, nothing minced or mashed up. There are different takes on strong flavours when it comes to Siew Mai, but we could gather a general consensus that the flavour profile should come largely from the filling, and not the yellow wrap around it. Winner: Crab Meat Siew Mai from Shi Wei Xian
It was a difficult call, but among all the big restaurants and popular brands, our vote goes to the Crab Meat Siew Mai from a nondescript stall at Aljunied Crescent. The Siew Mai had a great elastic texture (much alike what you’d get with a good fishball) accompanied by the special filling - a blend of not just pork but chicken as well, with some crab for additional sweetness to round up the taste. Salted Egg Custard Buns – Judging Criteria Beneath the unassuming white bun, we expect no less than a liquid gold centre of molten salted egg goodness that would flow freely when you peel the bun apart. Winner: Salted Egg Custard Buns from Royal China
The Salted Egg Custard Bun from Royal China scored high on the ‘ooze factor’ with the generous custard-salted egg filling flowing lusciously once the bun was split open. Plus, it packed the punch, the oomph of salted egg, that came through the buttery creaminess of custard. How much would you pay for your dim sum? From established Chinese restaurants and their polished grandeur to rustic stalls in heartland coffeeshops or shophouses, we have literally eaten our way through this Dim Sum shootout. Here’s how much you would expect to pay for the standard 5 dishes at 10 notable dim sum places here in Singapore.
Char
Siew
Bao
(3pcs)
Chee
Cheong 
Fun
Har
Gow
(4pcs)
Siew
Mai
(4pcs)
Salted Egg / Baked Custard Bun (3pc)
Yan Ting$5.00 $10.00 $6.80 $6.80 $5.80
Asia Grand$4.20 $5.80 $5.20 $4.80 $4.80
Royal China$4.80 $5.60 $5.60 $5.60 $4.80
Tim Ho Wan $4.50 $5.50 $5.50 $5.00 -
Imperial Treasure Nan Bei $3.60 $5.50 $5.00 $4.80 $4.80
Red House$3.60 $5.00 -$4.80 $4.20
Victor's Kitchen $4.50 (2pc)$4.00 $5.00 $4.50 $4.50
Swee Choon$1.80 (2pc) $1.80 $2.40 (2pc) $1.80 (2pc) $3.60
Shi Wei Xian$1.60 (2pc) $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 -
Wen Dou Sek $3.80 $3.80 $3.30 $2.80 $4.00
Any places you feel we should visit? Let us know! Leave a comment below. Written by Bernard Tan See Also: Join the dim sum hype with these cantonese restaurants now! Check out here for the best dining offers
Keyword
HK Special
Dim Sum. Cantonese restaurant
OpenRice SG Editor
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