Joshua Ong •
22 Sep 2010 • 55 reviews • 8 followers
This was the first of a trio of Tung Lok restaurants I've been to in the past week! Serene and I had brought our friends here for dim sum almost exactly a year ago when it was newly opened, and found that the quality here was really quite impressive (although i failed to write that review). Hence it was about time we made a return visit, this time with 3 of our other Precious friends.
This being Sunday lunch, the place was packed and there was a queue of hungry people waiting for tables outside. Good thing I'd made reservations! However, our table was in the middle of the room and you get caught up in the bustle of the place there... try to ask for one of the tables with a pool view instead, it's much more relaxing.
We were going to have another big meal that evening, and had planned to restrain ourselves when making orders. Unfortunately some of the other Precious friends are inherently greedy and aren't known to pass up the chance to call for more food!
The century egg congee (2 bowls at $4.80 each) arrvied first, and it looked really yellow. We soon found out why - there had been A LOT of regular egg yolk stirred into it. It isn't stated on the menu; I didn't like it much. Too rich and cloying. The abundance of yolk masks many of the other flavours normally present in this type of congee.
The beancurd skin rolls (5 for $7) were all right but didn't stand out; I recall they were crisper and sharper in taste last year. The steamed chicken claws ($3.60) were rather good - nice sauce and not too salty. One of the best items had to be the carrot cake in XO sauce ($7), which was aromatic and deeply satisfying!
Since Mei Jiu was present, we inevitably had har kow and siew mai (both $1.10 each). In my opinion these are too common and I'd never order them of my own accord. But I eat them if they are placed in front of me... Hmmm, pas mal, je suppose? The prawns were firm and fresh, while the siew mai didn’t exude the yucky fatty taste that they sometimes do.
The prawn cheong fun ($7 each) was smooth and tasted decent, though priced higher than it should be. I quite liked the xiao long bao ($1.40 each), but then many places do them very well these days and the ones here aren't particularly noteworthy.
What I didn't like were the deep-fried yam balls (5 for $7). I found them too starchy and didn't think much of the outer crust. The vegetarian dumplings (5 for $6) were somewhat better, with vegetable bits retaining some of their crunch on the inside, and a not-too-stodgy skin.
There were 3 non-dim sum dishes too: chilled bamboo clams ($35.20 for 4), mian xian with fish ($7) and crab meat mian xian (2 for $16). The bamboo clams were a letdown: the texture was all right, but the sauce (mix of lime and chilli) was boring and there was a distinct lack of flavour to the dish overall. I didn't have the fish mian xian, but liked the crab meat one, which was in a clear broth - a refreshing palate cleanser! The stock could have been richer, though.
We finished with egg tarts and pan-fried custard buns (both 3 for $3.60). I skipped the former, but the latter were great! My first time having them pan-fried, so we weren't sure how they'd turn out, but these were very well done indeed. The bun is certainly firmer and a little more chewy than steamed, but it was filled to bursting with gooey custard and egg yolk that packed a salty-sweet punch. I know this will eventually be my downfall, but it was delicious!
Overall, I felt that while passable, the quality of the food didn’t match up to our experience last year. Has their dim sum chef moved to another branch in the group, or have I been jaded by too much dim sum recently? In any case, you won’t really go wrong here – just don’t expect an outstanding meal.