Photo: Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant
Asia Grand Restaurant
Dim sum with superb service
Asia Grand has one of the better service standards out of all the classic restaurants here (it's up there with Summer Palace – read below). Traditional dim sum is served here, as well as simple, new combinations like the steamed cheong fun with shredded chicken and preserved egg ($5.80). Watch out though, the latter is a dish you will either love or hate; there's no in-between. The braised duck’s web with peanuts ($4.80) takes us back to eating well on the streets of Hong Kong. If you're looking for bigger items, the Peking duck ($38) is one of the best in Singapore.
Asia Grand Restaurant | Address: #01-02, 331 North Bridge Road, Odeon Towers | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Sat: 11.30am – 2.30pm | Sun & PH: 10am – 2.30pm
East Ocean Teo Chew Restaurant
Well-made, creative dim sum
A restaurant serving innovative Teochew cuisine, East Ocean has become much more accessible since moving to Ngee Ann City in 2012. It has hands down, one of the best crisp roasted pork belly ($15) we’ve had in Singapore. The liu sha bao (three for $4.80) is also amazing – thick custard that is not overly egg-y in taste, and a honey char siew ($10.50) that is not too sweet and retains its meatiness. They also serve intricate animal-shaped dim sum dishes that are almost too cute to eat, like a penguin-shaped salted egg man tou (three for $6).
East Ocean Teo Chew Restaurant | Address: 391 Orchard Road, #05-08/09, Ngee Ann City | Tel: 62359088 | Dim sum hours: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, Sat, Sun & public holidays 10am – 3pm
Jade Fullerton Restaurant
Excellent and affordable hotel dim sum buffet
At $38++ per person, Jade’s dim sum buffet is a quality mid-range brunch, more than worth every dollar. One-time order items at this all-you-can-eat include the sumptuous, savoury superior bird’s nest soup with truffle (a shark’s fin soup replacement), that has generous amounts of crab meat with that truffle after-taste. We like the baked items char siew sou and fried carrot cake which have crisp, non-greasy exteriors. The extremely well-trained and attentive staff heighten the experience.
BOOK A TABLE HERE | Jade Fullerton Restaurant | Address: Ground floor, 1 Fullerton Square, Fullerton Hotel | Dim Sum serving hours: Sat & Sun 11am-12.45pm, 1.15–3pm
Preservative-free, naturally colourful dim sum
After a menu revamp in mid-2013, Mouth restaurant flaunts more creative dishes like the six coloured har gao ($9.80) and squid ink char siew bao ($5). Get the famous baked custard bun ($5.60), which is like Tim Ho Wan's pork bun, but with an oily, nicely-salted egg custard filling. All dim sum (and dishes) are made with natural ingredients at Mouth – no preservatives or artificial colouring – so you’re getting natural quality. Tip: certain dim sum items like the squid ink char siew bao are not served during dinner.
BOOK A TABLE HERE | Mouth Restaurant | Address: #01-61, China Square Central , 22 Cross Street | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm, Sat, Sun & public holidays: 10am-3.30pm, 6-10pm
Peony Jade Restaurant (Keppel)
Worthwhile dim sum buffet road trip
A restaurant that specializes in Szechuan and Cantonese dishes, Peony Jade features high ceilings, quaint red lanterns, beautiful ornaments and dividers, and decent dim sum. At $31.35 per person Peony Jade's dim sum pushcart buffet is quite worth the trip into Keppel Club in terms of value. The mini pandan liu sha bao as well as the banana mango fritters are worth trying as part of the buffet. The buffet also comes with a one-time-order of shark’s fin soup (as much as we like this restaurant, this is the part HungryGoWhere's not so comfortable with) and fresh salmon sashimi as appetizers. Don't misroute to the Clarke Quay branch – they do not serve dim sum buffet.
BOOK A TABLE HERE | Peony Jade Keppel Club | Address: 10 Bukit Chermin Road | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2.30pm
Red Star Restaurant
Dim sum with history
Red Star Restaurant 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. The chefs were disciples of chef Luo Chen at Cathay Restaurant in the '50s, which was considered the most prestigious Chinese restaurant at the time. The Heavenly Kings are also credited with inventing the famous Singapore dishes we eat so regularly today: chilli crab, yam ring and yusheng. 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 ($3.20 for two) and century egg congee ($4.20) the push carts and stations that you're here for.
Red Star Restaurant | Address: 54 Chin Swee Road | Tel: 65325266 | Dim sum serving hours: Daily 7am-3pm; 6.30-11.30pm
For dim sum served by the third generation
Possibly the oldest surviving Chinese restaurant in Singapore, Spring Court brand has been around since 1929. Strictly speaking, the current restaurant is pretty new in its four-storey shophouse premises, but the dim sum is classic. Now onto their third generation, this family-run restaurant is constantly evolving and adapting to modern times – a sign it will continue to survive. Families with older folk would be pleased to know that there is an elevator that runs through the floors, which makes it easy to get to the massive homemade Spring Court popiah ($6.80) and spicy, fiery wontons ($3.50). The chilli oil in the wontons dish makes our ears tingle, but it's delicious and full of prawns.
Spring Court | Address: 52 Upper Cross Street | Tel: 64495030 | Dim sum serving hours: Daily 11am-3pm
Classic, nostalgic, extravagant dim sum
The first restaurant in Regent Hotel, Summer Palace’s nostalgic décor is a showcase of traditional Chinese wooden fixtures and prosperous red highlights. A popular pick for traditional Chinese wedding dinners, this 50-seater also makes an excellent business lunch venue for its intuitive service. We recommend the power lunch menu at $60.80 per person that will allow you to sample the signature dim sums that change periodically, as well as a few other Cantonese dishes. Expect items like the prawn dumpling with spinach-infused skin, barbecue pork buns and bird's nest dumpling.
Summer Palace | Address: 3rd floor, The Regent Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Rd | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm
Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant
For traditional dim sum for non-traditional-sized groups
Serving traditional Cantonese dim sum, this is one of a handful of places you can find Hong Kong-style steamed carrot cake ($4). You can order the dim sum portions here according to how many people there are, and not in fixed basket sizes. Prices are slightly more steep at Wah Lok than regular casual Cantonese restaurants, but the quality is worth it. Try the steamed crab and egg white dumpling ($6) and the Hong Kong-style baked custard buns ($4.40). The latter is non-oily, sweet and the filling is not like that of a liu sha bao.
Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant | Address: Level 2, 76 Bras Basah Rd, Carlton Hotel | Tel:63118188 | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, Sun 11am–2.30pm
Yum Cha Chinatown
Casual, rowdy dim sum restaurant
This Chinatown stalwart serves a $4.20 per person weekday dim sum high tea buffet from 3pm to 6pm. Probably aimed at getting people in during this lull time, Yum Cha gets quite crowded over the weekends during breakfast and lunch hours. There are over 60 items of a la carte items to choose from like the pumpkin yam golden cake ($4.20). We also recommend the non-dim-sum garlic soft shell crab ($8.80) which is crispy and well infused with garlic notes. This is a casual, rowdy restaurant with good old fashion dim sum carts, marble tables and wooden chairs. Note: service does get a bit slow when the restaurant is full, and dishes tend to take a while to be served.
Yum Cha Chinatown | Address: #02-01, 20 Trengganu Street | Tel: 63721717 | Dim sum serving hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-11pm, Sat, Sun & public holidays 9am-11pm
Blogger Seth Lui runs his own blog. This story has been edited and adapted from his 'Best dim sums in Singapore History: The Ultimate Guide' post.