Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

More National Day specials this August! How about a local inspired dim sum? Check out the array of bite-sized dishes specially crafted by Yàn Executive Chinese Chef Lai Chi Sum and his dim sum chef, inspired by our favorite local dishes available during lunch hours from 12 - 2.30pm from now till the end of the month. 

One of my favorite bite out of the special six is the Steamed Xiao Long Bao in Laksa Stock (4 pieces $5.80). Each soup parcel contains vibrant notes of shrimp in a sweet and fragrant laksa broth.  Instead of a rich coconut milk, coconut oil is used for the same aroma. I thought that this version is a lot better than the typical chili crab ones.
Not into OTT Chinese New Year reunion meals? Then head to Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant for their Reunion Imperial High Tea (新春团圆宫廷下午茶) instead! I've always been a fan of their high tea because they're portioned just perfectly for a lady (though guys may complain of the portion). The 9-course dim sum and tea pairing set menu comprises yusheng customised for the party size (even for one), handcrafted dim sum, as well as Chinese New Year desserts. 
We started with the Prosperity Salmon Yusheng, which takes on a western style with salad vegetables but the orange dressing with candied orange peel gives the dish a Chinese spin. 
Long Jing is served for the dimsum course. But over at the TOP of UOB Plaza, as they have a spanking new cocktail bar Chuān @ The Sixtieth, they have added on a cocktail to their dimsum-tea menu. For the reunion menu, Jubilant Gathering (欢菊一堂) is served. It is a specially concocted craft cocktail made of vodka and chrysanthemum tea, and a lemon ice ball that melts into the drink slowly. We loved the fragrance of the tea in this delicate cocktail! 

Handmade dimsum is served next. Every item is hand made and they are so delicate! We hear that the items on the high tea menu are specially created but sometimes they'd include 1 or 2 items from the regular dimsum menu inside. We particularly enjoyed the steamed juicy seafood wrapped in seaweed (pictured left). The broth from the seafood was so delicious we literally drank it all. The pink mushroom dumpling had filling that is encased in this amazing thin mochi skin. Oh, special mention goes to the crispy yam puff in curry paste, which was super crispy (and not oily at all).
Let the 2018 Chinese New Year feasting begin! Here's sharing some of my favorites from Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium. I had high expectations of the restaurant since the revamp (read my earlier food review of Xin Cuisine here) and Chef Chan Shun Wong did not disappoint. 
Toss your way to prosperity with the Salmon Yu Sheng with Fish Skin and Passion Fruit Yogurt Dressing ($78/$98). The tangy, refreshing, and crunchy dressing was perfect with the crunchy vegetables and deep fried fish skin. The salmon slices were of the sashimi cut and we really appreciated the generous serving. The yu sheng is also available for takeaway and you can choose from a variety of toppings.
How about suckling pig in a Peking Duck style? We had the indulgent BBQ Suckling Pig with Foie Gras, Yam and Japanese Cucumber, which was a crispy sandwich of the mentioned ingredients that were roasted and fried, sweetened by hoi sin sauce. Love the texture but it's on the oily side, especially from the battered and fried foie gras. Surprisingly, the foie gras provided a salted egg yolk type of flavor to each bite. 
I would think that the Home style Roast Duck with Tea Leaves ($68 whole duck) would be a better option. 
Egg tarts. One of my favorite snacks growing up. What's not to love about snappy crust and wobbly egg pudding?! Yes pudding, not custard like the real Portuguese pastéis de nata (i'll save the review of that for my Lisbon post).
Anyway, during my last trip to Hong Kong, i did an impromptu taste test of 2 famous egg tart brands Honolulu and Tai Cheong since they were both within walking distance from my hotel! Here's the low down. 
Something you wouldn't notice unless you place both tarts together. Honolulu is on the left and Tai Cheong on the right. The radioactive yellow of Tai Cheong's egg tarts could be attributed to a higher egg yolk content (so i heard) and given that it's sweeter, i suspect there's some glaze to it. 

Tart Base & Egg Custard
Honolulu's base is dense and crunchy at the bottom but the edges are more of a layered airy puff pastry. The style is more similar to the Macao-Portuguese egg tarts. The egg filling was rather wet tasted very much like a mixture of soft boiled eggs.
Tai Cheong's crust is something i'm more familiar with. Don't you love snappy shortcrust pastry? Well i do. This is what i'd call a sugar crust. If you like butter cookies, you will love this type of crust. The egg custard was denser, more curdy and can be sliced clean. 
Scent-wise, Honolulu's tart is more savory (lardy) while Tai Cheong's tart smells like a dessert. After the first bite of Honolulu's tart, my throat felt rather uncomfortable and there's an oily aftertaste. It was less noticeable after a few more bites.
I definitely preferred the eggy fragrance of Tai Cheong's tart.
Verdict! I preferred Tai Cheong's egg tart obviously. It's perfect for breakfast, or that afternoon snack, or pre-bed supper. Then again, if i were to take part in an egg tart eating competition, i'd probably pick Honolulu's since it's more savory and i could possibly eat more of them. FYI, Jr prefers Honolulu's.

Did i get that egg tart craving going? Well well, thankfully both Tai Cheong and Honolulu's egg tarts are available in Singapore! Go grab yours now.


Wouldn’t it be lovely if Chinese New Year gatherings are not always about stuffing the poor tummy with 8/9/10 course meals? We love the auspicious plates of CNY delicacies, but after a few sessions (‘coz Ms. Popular), the novelty simply wears off. Since it is basic courtesy not to decline invitations (and food, really), I’ll be generous and share a win-win solution: Have Dim Sum at Avenue Joffre!
Before your party gets to the special Chinese New Year Dim Sum menu, do request for the Lychee-wood Roasted BBQ dishes, which are specialities of Avenue Joffre. While I do enjoy the Roasted Cantonese Duck 挂炉烧鸭 (Reg $22/Half $39/Whole $75) for its tender and juicy London duck meat and glistening crispy skin, I am swept off my feet with the restaurant’s Honey-glazed Barbecued Pork 滋味蜜汁叉烧 (S $18/M $26/L $32). 
Look at the beautifully glazed char siew! Melt-in-the-mouth pork and en pointe on flavours, I just could not stop at a slice. 
Expect nothing less for “Snow Mountain” BBQ Pork Buns 雪山叉烧包 ($6)— loads of awesome char siew packed in sweet-crusted soft buns. Think HK Pineapple Bun (菠萝包). I feel doubly loved since I adore my bread carbs.
Love dim sum but bored of going to the ‘same old’ restaurant? Fret not, Avenue Joffre’s Master Chef Ge Xian’e, China’s “Queen of Dim Sum” (who also has numerous prestigious Dim Sum titles under her belt!), has introduced many new and creative Dim Sum items for the month of July!
Dig in to traditional Dim Sum items such as Steamed Crystal Prawn Dumpling 冬笋鲜虾饺 ($6), Steamed Minced Pork & Abalone Siew Mai 鲍鱼烧卖($6), Steamed Shanghai Pork Dumpling 上海小笼包 ($7) and Pan-fried Pork Bun filled with Soup 灌汤上海生煎包 ($7).
The traditional items are superb.. and Oh My Dumpling! The Steamed Shanghai Pork Dumpling is THE dream dumpling. Super thin skin yet holding its hearty contents. Check. Juicy pork. Check. Intense and flavourful stock. Check. LOTS of soup and pork. Check. My only thought: Can I have a bigger spoon please?
Are there another outstanding dishes? YES. Rolling off our tongues is the Steamed Preserved Turnip & Sesame Rice Roll 香麻菜脯肠粉 ($6). The delicate layers of rice roll coiled under the mildly spiced and crunchy preserved turnip. Drizzle the roll with savoury-sweet shallot-y sauce and I’m seduced. This must be the best plate of rice roll I have ever tasted—in both texture and taste.

Tuned to the trends, Avenue Joffre has also included Dim Sum varieties to excite the modern palettes.
Like I said I would, I headed back to Kai Garden for their Dimsum because that Pan Fried Charcoal Pork Bun ($6.80 for 3pcs) induced tears of joy when I first sampled it. Oh and that Peking Duck is another tear jerker (read my previous Kai Garden review here).
Dimsum is available every afternoon, along with their a la carte dishes and set lunches. Despite the generally dead crowd in Marina Square, Kai Garden was packed with dimsum loving people dining in the natural light washed dining hall with a view of the Marina area.
I like to start my dimsum meal with some steamed goodness and the Steamed Cheong-fun with prawns and chives ($7.80) awakened our palates with succulent prawns wrapped in the fluffy rice flour rolls, doused with a light sweet soy.
The Steamed Prawn Dumpling ($6.50 for 4pcs) is often used to determine the standard of dimsum at any Chinese restaurant and as far as this goes, i was very happy. The chunky prawns and sweet seafood broth were held perfectly in that translucent skin. Give the Steamed Scallop Dumpling with Abalone ($9.80) a miss unless you are into super bland dumplings that well.. don't taste much of anything.
I love my traditional Cantonese carrot cake and this Wok-Fried Carrot Cake in X.O. sauce ($9.80) was super addictive. It's even better when you eat it with the housemade chili paste. 
Something special to order at Kai Garden is the Pan-fried Pork Dumpling ($8.80 for 4pcs) 烧卖. These are giant bites of chunky minced pork topped with ebiko. Honestly i would go with steamed because the wanton skin isn't exactly best prepared pan fried and the crust turned out to be a little dry. Well i guess maybe the photo opp makes up for it? Hur.
Chef does the char siew super well btw. The dark charred honey BBQ meat had gorgeous layers of rendered fats, plus the meat was simply tender! Is this the best char siew in Singapore??! 
I also cannot stop raving about the stellar Baked BBQ Honey Pork Pastry ($5.60 for 3pcs) 叉烧酥. That buttery pastry was so thin, flaky, and crunchy, which I found unbelievably good! Of course, it was packed with all the char siew (less fats in this one). It's been a while since i last had such delicious char siew sor. 
If you need something to warm your belly, have the umami Double-boiled Lobster Soup with Dumpling ($14.80).
On to the sweets! Make space for the Mini Egg Tarts ($4.80 for 3pcs)! This super wobbly egg pudding sits within a thin crispy pastry shell which is almost a shortcrust. Yummy!
Kai Garden's other sweet dimsum signature is the Steamed Custard Bun ($5.80 for 4pcs) or Liu Sha Bao. I liked the viscosity of the golden lava but found it to be a tad sweet. Balance that and up the notch of the saltiness and this would be a bigger hit.
My other sweet favorites include the Chilled Aloe Vera and Lemongrass Jelly ($6.80) and Chilled Coconut Puree ($6.80). Both of them provide a cold and refreshing end to the meal. 
Kai Garden is a great addition to my dimsum list with some really stellar hits that i would die for. Will definitely be back!

Kai Garden
#03-128A/B Marina Square
Raffles Boulevard Singapore 039594
Weekdays: 11.30am - 3.30pm, 6 - 11pm
Weekends & PH: 11am - 4pm
Tian Fu Tea Room is my secret afternoon high tea dimsum spot. It's always an oasis of calm and serenity, perfect for contemplation and small talk over perfectly crafted nibbles paired with excellent Chinese teas. Of course, feel free to let your inner Chinese scholar/poet come out to play (we couldn't resist giving our best shot at some calligraphy).
There are 3 Tian Fu Tea Rooms at the PARKROYAL Hotels at Beach Road, Top of UOB Plaza, and Kitchener Road, each serving slightly different versions of the high tea. During this CNY period from now till 22 Feb 2016, a special Imperial Reunion High Tea is served from 2.30pm - 6pm daily for $38/pax (usual $30/pax). During this period, diners will enjoy an individual portion of Yusheng (yes even if you dine alone), with 9 other light bites (including a rice/noodle dish). Beach Road and Top of UOB plaza serves the crunchy and refreshing Prosperity Salmon Yusheng with crispy fish skin while Kitchener Road serves a Premium Black Truffle Yusheng!
Fine Chinese teas are paired with the dishes. We started with the Bai Mu Dan (White Tea) and then moved on to the Bi Tan Piao Xue (Flower Tea) with our spicier Sichuan dishes at the Beach Road outlet.
I really love the Chong Qing Chicken with Spicy Bean Paste! The ma la chili really whets the appetite and packs a punch. The Chilled Sliced Duck wrapped with Salted Egg helped to balance that spiciness but honestly you don't taste much of the duck.  
Some steamed dimsum bites with the chunky Sliced Prawn in Black Bean Sauce and Steamed Fish Balls with Black Moss, both of which I thought were well made but on the bland side. Somehow they were missing the fresh seafood flavor as the fish paste used in both were a little starchy.
We loved the Pan-fried Glutinous Pancake with Minced Camphor Tea Smoked Duck. This was an expected savory mochi with a dark saucy minced duck filling. 
Behold the paper thin crispy layers of pastry! Give me more of that Deep-fried Radish Puff with Dried Scallop. I was mind blown by how that thin puff could hold all that juicy disintegrated radish. We followed the fried dishes with a Dong Ding Wu Long (Oolong Tea), which is said to cleanse our palate (not that the dishes were any oily).
As much as i tried to avoid carbs, i finished every single grain of the fluffy and fragrant Fried Rice with Waxed Meat and Matsutake Mushrooms. This was amazingly good as the rice seemed more steamed than stir fried actually and had the lingering earthy scent of the lotus leaf and prized Matsutake mushrooms.
I'm a new fan of fried nian gao and Tian Fu Tea Room's version in a flaky and crunchy Honey Glazed Pastry Puff was a stellar rendition of this traditional sweet. 
We've had way many Liu Sha Baos but this was the first super deep-fried one in a slightly mochi like skin. It was artery-cloggingly delicious but we had to drain some of the oil out of the one for fear of a heart attack while finishing this.

If you're up for more traditional dimsum sort, you may want to check out the Kitchener and UOB Plaza outlets. There is the ongoing UOB card promotion- 1 dines free with 3 paying guests. Time to get your lo hei going!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Beach Road
7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591
Tel: +65 6428 3170

PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road
181 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208533
Tel: +65 6428 3170

TOP of UOB Plaza
80 Raffles Place #60-01, UOB Plaza 1, Singapore 048624
Tel: +65 6535 6006

Daily: 11.30am - 10.30pm
High Tea: 2:30 - 6:30pm
I'm currently still in a dim sum mood and therefore you have to read all about these delicately crafted and flavorful morsels that come in various forms, steamed, baked, or fried. On the menu this week is the new dim sum menu by Shang Palace Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, created by their new dim sum chef Li Shou Tao who has 23 years of dim sum making experience. 
That sets the bar pretty high doesn't it. Let's see if it matches our expectations. 
While sipping on their fine teas, our Steamed lobster dumpling with bittergourd arrived in a beautiful lacquered carrier (chef handpicked these). Chef's skill is displayed in that translucent, slightly chewy and springy rice flour skin that encased the juicy meat. This was a light and refreshing start to our meal. 
Next, a combination of steamed, baked, and fried, like I promised. A steamed Boleghs Aereus dumpling (Chinese mushrooms) mixed with crunchy lotus root and long beans; Saucy baked BBQ pork bun in a crunchy polo bun shell. Oh that Cantonese style chunky meat; And a deep fried shredded turnip pastry with foie gras that had me admiring its lovely layers for a bit. Such a work of art! How can anything fried be so light and delicate? That said, the filling was on the bland side and I didn't taste the foie gras at all.
Carrot cake is a must order for me every time but the Yam Cha (oh they so punny), a steamed turnip cake with egg white and conpoy, was mushy and bland. A touch of soy sauce saved the day and brought out the flavor of this dish. It would have been even better if there were some XO sauce instead of a bean paste chili. 
It seemed that Chef goes easy on the seasoning (perfect for the health conscious). I added several dabs of the chili sauce to the Siew Mai with fish roe, prawn and mushroom. Quality meats are used here and they are not overly minced to retain the bite and juiciness. 
Loved the Steamed rice roll with BBQ pork and parsley. That smooth springy skin!! 
We also sampled some of the Hairy Crab offerings. I'm not a fan of Hairy crabs because it's too much effort for too little meat, but I'm perfectly happy when it's served in an easily accessible version, such as this Pan fried bun with chili crab meat. Again, stellar fluffy bun with a sesame crust. I thought the starchy tomato based chili sauce could do with more spice and flavor. I guess the bun stole the thunder. 
Mind you, hairy crabs are terribly expensive. This bowl of braised tofu, hairy crab meat and roe would set you back by 36 bucks. 
The Braised hairy crab with shiso leaves and a thicker cut glass noodles ($96/portion) is another way to enjoy the rich crab roe, if you need some carbs to go with it. 
Well in comparison, the Hairy Crab Set Menu ($138/pax) appears to give you more value for money, and is also more filling. 
Make sure there is space for desserts! I gobbled the Steamed layered cake which is essentially a dry salted egg custard bun with desiccated coconut! Give me a basket of this please!! Make sure you have something warm to balance the 'cold' hairy crab, like this sesame glutinous rice ball in spicy ginger tea. 
Lovely meal at Shang Palace Shangri-La Hotel Singapore. Check out the hairy crab menu before it runs away!

22 Orange Grove Road 258350 Singapore
Tel: +65 6213 4473/ 4398
Mon - Fri: 12 - 2.30pm, 6 - 10.30pm
Weekends & PH: 10.30am - 3pm, 6 - 10.30pm