Photo: Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine
Dim sum has always been comfort food in Singapore, owing to many early Cantonese migrants bringing these wonderful little dishes to our little island. Through the decades, Singapore’s dim sum culture has also evolved include dishes from other styles like Shanghainese, Szechuan, as well as unique local modifications like multi-flavoured har gao (prawn dumplings).
Many restaurants in Singapore only serve dim sum in the morning till mid-afternoon, before switching to a different dinner menu. This is traditionally a meal that is for the early birds, though these days are some establishments that serve dim sum throughout the day. We round up 23 of the top dim sum dishes in Singapore, and offer suggestions on what you should order alongside.
Cherry Garden's dim sum buffet is also part of our 52 best buffets in Singapore | Photo: Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
For a dim sum buffet selection with premium ingredients
Walk through the oriental wooden doorway into this restaurant that has been designed to mimic a Chinese courtyard. Like its surroundings, Cherry Garden’s weekend dim sum buffet ($79.55 per person) selection is mostly traditional, with a few new touches like the escargot puff pastry ($5.80). What Cherry Garden excels in is using fresh and premium ingredients to make the standard dim sum even more outstanding. The glazed kurobuta char siew pau (three for $5.80) is probably the best char siew pau we’ve had, ever. We hear the waitilist for this restaurant can go up to a few weeks – best book now.
BOOK A TABLE HERE | Cherry Garden | Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Level 5 | Dim sum serving hours: Sat & Sun 11am-1pm, 1.30pm-3.30pm
For vast dim sum buffet with premium offerings
The Hai Tien Lo dim sum brunch buffet ($79.50 per person) comes with one premium Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup, as well as one braised abalone per person. The vast menu also sees Teochew- and Thai-influenced dishes offered in the dim sum brunch. The quick-fried Hokkaido scallops is freshly sweet, while the double-boiled chicken soup is full of flavour yet light to the sip. Although no longer on the 37th floor, this grand and lavish dining hall still holds many elements that will remind diners of a Chinese emperor's palace.
Hai Tien Lo | Address: 7 Raffles Boulevard, Pan Pacific Hotel, Level 3 | Tel: 68268240 | Dim sum serving hours: Sat & Sun 11.30am-2pm
For best overall dim sum selection
Helmed by chef Chung Lap Fai, Hua Ting is an excellent choice for mid- to high-range dim sum. We were impressed by almost every dish: the baked mango with chicken tart ($4.50) and double-boiled Cantonese soups are our favourites. The liu sha bao (salted yolk custard buns, $4.20) is thick, creamy with a hint of salty graininess and smooth skin. Even the special-of-the-day vegetarian dim sum (made with mushrooms and Chinese wine, $4.20) was good, given that we don’t usually order vegetarian dishes. A couple of tips: this Cantonese restaurant is typically packed, so make reservations at least two days ahead. Ask for its homemade XO chilli sauce to go with your dim sum as well, you won’t regret it.
Hua Ting Restaurant | Address: 442 Orchard Rd, Level 2 Orchard Hotel | Tel: 67396666 | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, Sat & Sun 11am-2.30pm
For exceptional Cantonese dining experience
Concentrating mainly on authenticity, Imperial Treasure serves wonderfully crafted dim sum prepared by their Hong Kong chefs. The quality is consistent at this branch, as it is at the many branches of Imperial Treasure (like at Nan Bei or La Mian Xiao Long Bao), but Imperial treasure Cantonese Cuisine has the best selection. The dim sum dishes with fresh prawn are crunchy and delicious, like the prawn cheong fun ($5.50) and siew mai ($4.80), while the banana roll with bean paste ($3.60) is a dessert you don't come across often in Singapore.
Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine | Address: 1 Kim Seng Promenade, #02-05A/6, Great World City | Tel: 67322232 | Dim sum serving hours: Daily 10.30am-3pm
For dim sum buffet with the tai tais
The second most expensive dim sum buffet on our list, Man Fu Yuan’s dim sum brunch is available daily at $103 per person. Decorated with butterfly lamps and peony flowers, this restaurant exudes a nostalgic yet classy atmosphere. The dim sum served is handcrafted and premium; try the mango prawn roll with wasabi (three for $5) which has perfectly fried skin, and the juicy dumpling with foie gras (three for $5). We love the latter’s combination of East and West ingredients.
Man Fu Yuan | Address: 80 Middle Rd, Intercontinental Hotel (2nd floor) | Tel: 68251062 | Dim sum serving hours: Daily 11.45am-2.30pm
For modern dim sum
The first Peach Garden opened in Novena Gardens in 2002 as a place for up to 140 diners in search of good Cantonese cuisine to gather. Since then, they have opened seven more outlets in Singapore. The modern style dim sum at Peach Garden is made with a mix of Asian methods including the Thai style. The fried liu sha bao ($3.90), roast pork cubes ($12) and XO chilli carrot cake ($10) are must-tries and perfect when washed down with a tall glass of Coca-Cola. Though Peach Garden also offers a very affordable high tea dim sum buffet at $24.35 per person on weekends and public holidays (from 3pm to 5pm). Service is attentive and conscientious, making it an apt choice of restaurant for business and family dinners. Note: the dim sum buffet has been temporarily stopped for the Chinese New Year 2014 period, and will resume on the first weekend of March.
BOOK A TABLE HERE | Peach Garden | Address: Level 3, Miramar Hotel, 401 Havelock Road and five other locations | Dim sum opening hours: Sat, Sun & public holidays 11am-2.30pm; High tea dim sum buffet Sat, Sun & public holidays 3-5pm
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