Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Capella Sentosa is my piece of un-Singapore in Singapore. That ocean view and lush greenery gives Bali a run for her money and the Knolls has a great pool and ocean view the last time I dined there. This time I checked out their fine dining Cantonese restaurant Cassia and sampled some signatures and seasonal dishes. 
The meal started with dimsum and these were lovely crafted pieces of joy. My favorite would have to be the Signature Steamed Barbecued US Kurobuta Pork Bun with Black Truffle 黑松露蚝皇克猪叉烧包 ($4.80 for 2 pcs). It's so hard to get a simple bao skin right but this was light and fluffy and chef nailed the bun to char siew ratio. The truffle perfume was intoxicating when I broke the bun open to reveal that dark brown sauce with black fragments of the prized fungus. Oh and juicy Kurobuta pork... 
In the process of clearing backlogs and found this one on Grand Mandarin, which is touted to have really good roast meats by Wong Ah Yoke of Straits Times. Well, if you're a lao ban (businessman) looking for a place entertain your Chinese clients, i guess Grand Mandarin would make the cut. It's one of the few restaurants that sell the crazy expensive Empurau fish (忘不了) in Singapore and that's sure to impress (it's all about 面子 'face' with them). 
A sampler of appetizers first. We had the deep fried prawn coated with crème lemon sauce ($32). Firm succulent crystal prawn was used and the dressing was decent and masked the blandness of the meat. I found the crispy soft shell crab coated with chicken floss and curry leaves ($18) rather interesting though it could be kinda dry. 
The honey glazed barbecued pork loin ($15) had fats that melted in my mouth. The meat was firm but juicy. This char siew is done slightly differently being first coated with brown sugar and then baked, giving the meat a crunchy creme brulee shell  that will satisfy any sweet tooth. It's  would come back just to take away some char siew for dinner. 
The Double boiled chicken soup with cordycep flower ($9) was very soothing on the tummy with a flavorful broth but i wouldn't recommend eating the chicken which was rather tasteless after being stripped of its juices.
I love my cod fish and the Steamed silver cod ($22/pax) kinda does it, if only they would go easy on the amount of pink ginger on top. It was a pity that the smokiness of the bonito sauce couldn't cut through the light spice. Put the ginger aside and eat as required.
Next, the roasted duck with Perigord truffle ($28). Loved that paper thin crispy skin but the meat was semi dry and tough. :/ Also, we couldn't see or taste much of the truffle. 
While the tofu with crab meat and egg white in carrot broth ($24) sounded healthy and refreshing, I'd advise you to skip it. We couldn't quite see the oil but we could taste it in every bite. Also, the tofu had a strange wok hei (burnt) taste even though it wasn't burnt at all. 
The meal somehow got oilier with the stir fried crystal vermicelli with pork collar in X.O. chili sauce ($22) The noodles did not match the description at all and 'oily and bland fried noodles with rubbery cuttlefish' would be more apt in fact. Hardly a hint of X.O. sauce was detected as well.
I was hoping that desserts will somewhat save the meal from going downhill. The Liu Sha Bao ($4.80) had a rich and viscous salted egg custard that was decent on the first few bites before punching you out with the sweetness. Listen to the doc and just stick with one.
The Green Apple jelly with lime sorbet and aloe vera ($8) helped to get rid of the residual oily mouth feel from the mains. It tasted very homemade in fact and reminded me of a boiled apple drink that my mama makes. The lime sorbet gave the dish a slight acidity which lifted the flavor, and our mood.
Hits and misses at Grand Mandarin located at the fringe of Chinatown. It's located near one of the exits of Outram Park MRT (which one annoying dining companion we had can't seem to figure out. i wonder what his smartphone is for). May head back for dim sum since it's a daily affair here. 

Grand Mandarin
325 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088760
Tel: +65 6222 3355
Daily: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 6.30 - 10pm

I love dimsum but the format of the meal is not very single or couple friendly- items come in threes and you can't maximise variety if you have a small stomach. #firstworldproblems Dimsum buffets also do not work well for us. Thankfully, i've found a solution! Tian Fu Tea Room by Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant offers a Dim Sum High Tea set that works perfectly for even the single diner.

From now till 31 Jan 2015, enjoy the Sparkling Imperial High Tea (梦幻宫廷下午茶) at Tian Fu Tea Room for $38.80/pax. This festive high tea menu marries the tea room’s reputed premium Chinese brews with exquisite handcrafted dim sum and desserts featuring luxurious bird’s nest from all-new bespoke bird’s nest brand Long Ming Xuan (龙明宣).
We started with a Torresella Prosecco Extra Dry NV, a delectable sparkling alongside a light floral tea. Bi Tan Piao Xue is a easy to drink green tea with a lingering jasmine fragrance. While i understood the pairing of tea with dimsum, i felt that the prosecco was a random throw in to market the tea as a festive product.
Each diner gets a single piece of each dimsum, which is perfect since you'll have space for more. Only downside is that you don't get more of your favorite. As the festive menu focuses on birds nest, the delicacy was in practically in all the dimsum. The goldfish looking steamed dumpling with minced chicken and birds nest had a skin that wasn't too cooked. For dimsum fillings, i believe that pork is always the way to go, which is why the following items were better.
Juicy pork filling in the Xiao Long Bao and Siew Mai. I liked the chunky meat texture in the siew mai and that the meat filling wasn't fatty at all. There was a lot of birds' nest in each dumpling and it added a light crunch to the texture.
Tie Guan Yin (oolong tea) was served next for the heavier dishes. The teas get stronger as the meal progresses. This Tie Guan Yin changed my opinion of this tea as i thought it to be usually very heavy and metallic. The one served at Tian Fu was light with a little woody taste.  Some fried goodness to break the monotony. This pan fried crab meat puff is like a gyoza with a crispy and thin filo skin. I liked this one because it was filled with a huge chunk of crab meat and you could taste the sweetness of the seafood.
Even though the dumplings look similar to each other, it's good to know that the meat fillings actually differ. The boiled minced meat dumpling with chinese cabbage had refreshing greens and some ginger in it. Cooked in a superior chicken stock, the dish was very comforting to the tummy. 
A staple is included in the tea set in case one gets too hungry. The Sichuan noodle with onion sauce had a superb texture. It's what the chinese would describe as 弹牙 and that's because the noodles, like all the other dumpling skin, are hand made. I thought the dish could do with a little more seasoning though. 
Rounding up the meal, we had a red tea by the name of Yunnan Dian Hong. This tea is supposed to rid the palate of all oily remnants of the previous dishes to prep us for the dessert.
I love love love the Boiled Pear with Bird's Nest. I would pick this over the sugary western poached pear dessert. Chinese pears have this refreshing and juicy quality that makes me want to take bite after bite. The double boiled method is also the best way to prep birds' nest imo.

What's coming to Si Chua Dou Hua without some homemade beancurd with wolfberries right? This is not included in the set but we couldn't resist a bowl of this freshly made beancurd with a light sugar syrup and sweet and plump wolfberries. No preservatives are used and the texture is amazingly silky and smooth. The kitchen makes this twice a day and the morning batch gets thrown out by noon so you can be guaranteed of fresh dessert any time you visit.

I loved the exquisite teas and beautifully crafted dim sum at Tian Fu Tea Room. Although the dimsum may not be as traditional as those you get at dim sum restaurants, it's perfect for a chi-chi afternoon tea by yourself or with your mother, aunts and grandmother. Trust me, they'll love it. 

Tian Fu Tea Room is adjoined to each of the Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurants in Singapore.

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've been recently informed of a hidden gem in my hood which I've been too blind/distracted to notice. Yummy salted egg yolk steamed buns right under my nose? No way! And located next to my dinner/supper haunt along Upper Serangoon Road, Heng Long Teochew porridge, you gotta be kidding me!! To correct all my wrongs, I trooped to Yi Dian Xin Hong Kong Dim Sum with my mama for a dimsum brunch. 
I've honestly never noticed Yi Dian Xin in the very same coffeeshop as Heng Long because it's overshadowed by the corner store. Well I only visit at night when they're closed so I guess that's how I've been missing this. Prices are very affordable with the most expensive item only costing $3.50. Rice Roll with Prawn ($3.50) uses pre-made rice rolls but the texture is QQ enough and the prawns flavorful. For the more traditional and freshly prepared Chee Cheong Fun, head to the Punggol Nasi Lemak coffeeshop down the road, there's another hidden gem that does this. 
I had to have their Signature Salted Egg Custard Pau ($3.30) as it was raved about. The bun was kinda dense but fluffy enough and the filling was well balanced with milky sweet and savory notes. I loved that it's really flowy! Eat it fast! While the custard doesn't really coagulate when cooled, the bun doesn't retain the same texture as when it was warm.

Another pau to order is the Steamed BBQ Pork Pau ($2 for 2) which looks like any other decent Cantonese dimsum restaurant types. Dark sauce, chunky meat, flowered buns. What's not to love?
The Steamed Carrot Cake ($2.20) was another of my favorite. It's amazingly melt in your mouth with small chunks of radish and chinese preserved sausage. I'm usually more the pan-fried carrot cake girl but this won me over with the texture and that special soy sauce. I could easily finish the whole thing on my own.
The Prawn Dumpling ($3.30) had a rather thick skin but the filling was adequate. Siew Mai with Mushrooms ($2.80) was packed with juicy pork meat that wasn't too fatty. I actually like this one. Steamed pork ribs with bean sauce ($2.50) comes in the regular small metal dish and was rather tender. I do like this dish but always found it overpriced at dimsum places. 

From the deep fried section, I'd go for the shrimp dumpling (sold out). My Mama liked the Deep Fried Red Bean Paste with Banana ($2.50) which featured a light filo skin with a slightly coarse paste. I thought it was on the sweet and oily side though. Well obviously not my generation's kind of dessert.
Here's the menu for your reference.
The ladies in my family headed down on a Public Holiday again but this time we were too late! At 1230pm, they were only left with 1/4 of their items! It was a bad day for us because many stores were closed and hence everyone decided to eat dimsum. Heard from the owner that their dimsum typically sells out on weekend afternoons so do go early! 
So glad I found this place! No need to travel down to chinatown for my favorite Tak Po when dimsum craving kicks in! 

Yi Dian Xin
1012 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534752 
Tel: +65 9168 5587
Daily: 7am - 6pm
(Closed Alt. Tues)

I always wondered why the 2 most awesome meals like brunch and tea are mostly only available on weekends. Shouldn't we get options for these awesome meals like everyday? Well well, the folks at Pan Pacific Singapore certainly has gotten it right with their Weekday Dim Sum Lunch Buffet at Hai Tien Lo!

The special weekday a la carte dim sum lunch menu is created by new Dim Sum Chef Lee Siaw Cheen and diners get to feast on an extensive selection of 35 soups, signature dishes, dim sum and desserts at $48.

There are 4 new enhanced signature dim sum creations which include Deep-fried Yam Puff with Foie Gras, Baked Egg Tart with Imperial Swiflet’s Nest and White Fungus, Steamed Berkshire Pork “Char Siu” Buns and Crispy Carrot Cake with Hai Tien Lo’s Signature XO Sauce. These are limited to one serving each per guest.

Of the lot, the Berkshire Pork “Char Siu” Buns was absolutely heavenly. Juicy and succulent meat in a delicious barbecue sauce lovingly wrapped by a fluffy sweet bun. But why only 1 serving?? :( I also liked the carrot cake which has nice chunks of radish and chinese sausage. This is best paired with the spicy XO sauce.
Diners also get unlimited servings of the classic dim sum. The Wok-seared Spinach Dumplings may look really green on the outside but it's also packed with juicy minced pork inside. Delicious!
There's also the giant version of a xiao long bao but this is the steamed bun version, and it also has a baby abalone hidden in it.

First time trying the Deep-fried Pork Dumpling “Ham Shui Gok”. It's really crispy on the outside and it remained so after 5 minutes of photo taking. It looks really plain but once you bite into it, you'd be surprised by the flavors.

The skin has a mochi-like texture and it is filled with juicy pork with mushrooms. When eaten all at once, it tastes like a Hakka Abacus Seed  算盘子.

Another delicious pork filled dish but flavored with five spices and wrapped in bean gluten. This is like a baby ngoh hiang but crispier and juicier.

If dimsum alone doesn't fill you up, there are also 9 Hai Tien Lo Signatures to pick from which includes hearty dishes like Szechuan Spicy chicken, Grouper fish fillet and Cantonese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs.. Each table is limited to one serving of any three items.

The Homemade Bean Curd with Crab Meat and Eggplant in Supreme Stock comes highly recommended. Absolutely silky and fragrant tofu in a carrot, radish and chicken supreme stock. Slurps!

If you like something fried (who doesn't), the Deep-fried Soft Shell Crab with Pepper Sauce is rather delightful. Just work it off later really.

What is a Cantonese meal without soup right? Pick from either the Traditional Double-Boiled Soup or the Lobster with Shredded Abalone and Vegetables in Thick Broth (one serving of any one item per person). The little green puffs are made of vegetables. Now you can drink your greens too!
For desserts, i went with the Double-boiled Osmanthus Tea with Pear and White Fungus which is light and refreshing. I liked that it's not too sweet.

The Mango Sago with Pomelo was a hot favorite. This drinks like a mango smoothie and is surprisingly light as well. If there's more space in your dessert tummy, you could go with the Black Sesame Paste with Glutinous Rice Dumpling.
So here you go, Hai Tien Lo's Weekday Dim Sum Buffet. It's perfect for business lunches and definitely for times when you simply just need to treat yourself.

Hai Tien Lo 
Pan Pacific Singapore
Level 3, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039595
Tel: +65 6826 8240
Weekday Dimsum Buffet (except PH): 11.30am - 2.30pm
Price: $48 per adult or $28 per child (five to 11 years old)
Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant is a well known brand for exquisite Cantonese cuisine. Since the opening of the first Peach Garden outlet at Novena Gardens in 2002, they have received numerous accolades and awards from renowned publications such as Singapore Tatler’s Best Restaurants Guide and Singapore Top Restaurants Award from Wine & Dine.

We were bringing a friend around town and decided to have dim sum at the Peach Garden OCBC Centre restaurant as it is known to have a great view of the city.
We surely weren't disappointed by the view! It was a little hazy but still rather impressive.

Only a small selection of dim sum items are available, i noted only 18 items. 
Century Egg Porridge is a must order for me when eating dim sum. Good gluey consistency of the congee and there was plenty of shredded pork. Love the crispy crackers on top too. 
I liked the presentation of the Steamed Shanghai Xiao Long Bao ($5.20). You don't have to worry about splitting the dumplings filled with flavorful pork broth.
Peach Garden supposedly has one of the better Steamed Creamy Custard Buns ($5.20) around. The buns were fluffy and light but i found the texture a little too gelatinous and it lacked that 'liu sha' (flowing lava) feel. Taste wise, it was satisfactory but i thought it could do with a richer salted egg yolk taste.
Deep fried Prawn and Fresh Avocado Roll ($6) was just like any regular fried dimsum item. The ingredients didn't quite come together to give the dish an identity.  I wouldn't recommend this.

Baked Mini Egg Tarts ($4.80) were delightful but yea on the pricey side because they're so mini. But yea love the wobbly egg custard on top of the lovely puff pastry.

We ordered the Steamed Fresh Prawn Dumpling ($6.30) but instead we got the Steamed Fresh Scallop Dumpling with Asparagus ($6.80). I didn't even realized that they got the wrong order. And so began the the unfortunate dining experience with the service staff. 

Well it started with the staff being rather pushy when i was ordering our first round of dim sum. Firstly, we were waiting for S who was parking so i didn't want to order everything at one go. Secondly, i have a tendency to over order (especially for dim sum) so i was making a conscious effort not to go crazy. However, that was met with some outwardly disdain by the staff (due to my small order) which i absolutely do not appreciate. Do i look like i can't afford dimsum? So i reigned in my unhappiness because i was hosting a friend.

The screw up was when they absolutely messed up our second order which took forever to come. 15 minutes into waiting, our plates were cleared after they asked if we were waiting for more food, which was strange. Well we thought our food was going to arrive soon after but nope, that didn't happen. Another 10 mins later when we checked with them again, we found out that they forgot our order (which they didn't tell us directly but we saw and overheard the commotion). Another 10mins passed before our order finally came and it was the wrong order. 
We had to make do with the messed up order because obviously we weren't going to wait for another 30 mins. The Deep fried Savoury Yam Pudding with Minced Meat and Portugal Sauce ($5.20) was really oily in the middle and i had to drain the oil from inside. It also lacked in the yam and filling department.

The Steamed BBQ Pork Bun ($4.80) attempted to calm me down a little. Juicy well marinated strips of char siew enveloped by the softest pillow bun.

What happened after the meal was an instagram post on the meal and me complaining about how terrible the service was. I have to applaud the Peach Garden Marketing/PR team for resolving the issue immediately. Good service recovery i must say. I've been informed that the staff involved have been counselled. I don't know if it's special treatment because i'm a food blogger but i would like to give them the benefit of doubt.

So yea, hits and misses at the Peach Garden OCBC Centre. If you're looking for decent dimsum with a view, it's ok. Well on the service end, it really depends, no matter where you go.

Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant
Peach Garden @ OCBC Centre
65 Chulia Street
#33-01, OCBC Centre
Singapore 049513
Tel: +65 6535 7833
Mon - Sat: 11.30am -2.30pm, 6 - 10pm
Sun and PH: 11.30am - 3.00pm, 6 - 10pm