Top 5 dim sum 2013

Yes, the title says it all. As a big fan of dim sum, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the top 5 dim sum restaurants in my heart, Singapore and overseas to round up the many dim sum restaurants I have been to this year. Having traveled around to quite a few countries this year to take a short hiatus from the never-ending work and as dim sum is always part of the itinerary, I would say that my list of dim sum restaurants is quite extensive.

Dim Sum has a really long history in the Guangdong province of China and whenever we mention that, we would think of Hong Kong as the capital of dim sum. However, I would reckon that dim sum has gone pretty ‘international’ as it has won accolades from both Westerners and Asian Oriental. This has resulted in many exciting dim sum restaurants springing up in any country that shows the slightest appreciation for it. Those cute, little petite yet elegant looking snacks can make one feel really satisfied and happy after a meal and most, regardless of culture, would not be able to resist it. Besides its presentation, the chef has to also be daring and creative in his otherwise traditional dim sum yet not neglecting its oriental taste. This, is I think a big challenge and is also a prerequisite for being one of my top 5 choices. So, lets take a look at the top five dim sum restaurants in 2013!

1. Lung King Heen 龍景軒 (Hong Kong)

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Yeah, being the only 3 Michelin star Chinese restaurant in the world, Lung King Heen would definitely be one of my top five. As its dim sum are all perfectly executed, this restaurant is my top choice. I have been to Lung King Heen twice this year actually, once in July and the second time in December and both visits were marvelous. Why so? And the answer is simple but takes a long paragraph to describe. Succinctly, Chef Chan Yan-Tak is able to create different combinations of textures and excitement for all of his dim sum and I really admire how he makes his fried stuff not oily to the palate at all. As he chooses the freshest seafood as his ingredients, his outstanding dim sum would be the prawn, lobster and scallop siu mai (shown above) which is really heavenly. Texture and taste are both overwhelmingly delicious. Standing at No. 13 in Asia’s 50 best restaurant, this is indeed the top dim sum restaurant of my list!

2. Tin Lung Heen 天龍軒 (Hong Kong)

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If you want to have a panoramic view of the whole of Hong Kong while nibbling on your dim sum, then please visit the peak Tin Lung Heen. Housed at the 102nd storey of the International Commerce Centre, I would reckon that Tin Lung Heen offers the most breathtaking view of Hong Kong. It is not all just about outer beauty as dim sum served here is also superb and cooked to perfection. Having been awarded two michelin stars recently, Chef Paul Lau ensures that his dim sum doesn’t disappoint. Not only are the freshest ingredients used over here, each dim sum also has its own character and unique taste. My favourite is the abalone pastry stuffed with roast goose as the roast goose makes the whole puff exceptionally fragrant. I can still remember the light peppery yet intensely fragrant roast goose fillings together with the springy, fresh abalone; a true decadence indeed.

3. Hakkasan / Yauatcha (London)

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Yes, it officially is the 3rd spot in my list. Even the western London can come this far, it indeed has a very exciting food scene. Yauatcha and Hakkasan are both under the same organisation and their dim sum are basically the same. Every dim sum is exquisitely prepared and makes you crave for more. Soothing and memorable taste together with an elegant presentation is what these two restaurants are striving at. Having lived in London for several years, I came to realise that there really is a handful of Chinese restaurants serving good dim sum (So don’t complain that London doesn’t have good Cantonese food). But to find exceptional ones, then the one Michelin starred Yauatcha or Hakkasan would unequivocally be the choice in London.

4. Wah Lok 华乐酒家 (Singapore)

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And finally, a really good dim sum restaurant in Singapore. I think I have been to this restaurant more than twice in the year. After the first visit, I knew that a revisit is a must for me to sample more dim sum! Wah Lok specialises in steamed dumplings as all her piping hot baskets of steamed dim sum always feature uniformly translucent and thin skin with really fresh, fragrant ingredients wrapped in it. Her baked dim sum such as the custurd bun is also one of my favourites as skin is super thin and flaky and custard oozes out upon the slightest bite. Try it one time and you will be addicted to this restaurant!

5. Crystal Jade Dining In (Singapore)

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Another dim sum gem found in the centre of Singapore at Vivocity, Crystal Jade Dining In aims to deliver delicious and fresh dim sum. I believe that once the chef chooses to use the freshest ingredients, he has already won half of the battle. Crystal Jade Dining In serves the more traditional dim sum with some more interesting additions such as the prawn with shark fin dim sum shown above. I’m not promoting shark fin here as this dim sum still works for me even without that few strands of shark fin. With this gem being featured in CNN travel as the winner of the best dim sum restaurant, it’s really impossible to give this place a miss! Its popularity is evident when you need to book a week in advance to get a seat!

So, this is my list of the top 5 dim sum restaurants that I had in year 2013 and I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it!

Tin Lung Heen 天龍軒

Tin Lung Heen

Ritz Carlton Hong Kong @ International Commerce Centre

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Glamour and Glister – That’s the first impression when I stepped into this luxurious hotel and restaurant. Located on the 102nd floor, the view at Tin Lung Heen is definitely unrivaled! This restaurant has just recently been promoted to two michelin stars and I thought it’s a must visit when I am in Hong Kong. Definitely, I kept comparing it to Lung King Heen and although I felt that LKH food might have been slightly better, this is a restaurant that has secured a place in my heart. It is one that I will definitely return to when I am back in Hong Kong. A really great view and atmosphere to immerse yourself in and tbh, it’s the second dim sum restaurant that beats those in Singapore. Indeed, it was very worth the visit and actually exceeded my expectation. We ordered slightly more than 10 dishes and everything was a hit except for one.

IMG_6208 The view from my seat. Very breathtaking isn’t it.

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IMG_6207 The interior of the restaurant which looks really lavish!

IMG_6237 My other view. It would be a much better view if air was not that hazy.

IMG_6243The glitter that sparkles everywhere in the restaurant. Really makes this restaurant very opulent.

IMG_6212The prawn har gao that we started with was the miss! It may look really exciting with the gold leaf there and everything looks rotund and symmetrical. But, skin is really thick and it gets super sticky after a while. As this was my first dim sum, I thought that it is a restaurant that only has outer beauty but my hopes were quickly restored after having subsequent dim sum! HKD $86.

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IMG_6216Slithery char siew cheung fen. Char siew is sweet and savoury while cheung fen is thin and slithery. This cheung fen differs from other restaurants as they don’t wrap diced char siew in it. Instead they put big chunks of char siew in it which makes the filling more substantial. I like the way this is prepared and also presentation is upped one level by 2 asparagus. HKD $98.

IMG_6219Like how Lung King Heen has their signature siu mai, Tin Lung Heen also has theirs. Scallop and large prawn siu mai. We got two baskets of this to share and each siu mai is huge! I can’t finish it in one mouth which I usually do for siu mai. Scallop and prawn are both really fresh and succulent while skin is of the right thickness and the meat in it is very substantial. Yums! HKD $96 per basket.

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IMG_6226Yes, it’s the snow skin char siew bao again that has been raved all over HK and Sg. Though it may look similar to the one in Tim Ho Wan, it is actually quite different. The crust is not as sweet but fluffier while the one at tim ho wan has a much sweeter and thinner crust. I like both renditions but somehow I prefer the one over here though some bloggers may not like it. It really depends on what kind of crust that will make your day. Char siew is of the right sweetness for me and I love it. yums. HKD $86.

IMG_6221Abalone zhen ju gai. Super delicious zhen ju gai here. Every grain of rotund rice is uniformly fragrant, very fragrant actually while abalone is springy – love the texture. There’s also tender chicken and egg yolk in the rice. Very delicious! HKD $98.

IMG_6223Turnip cake which was interestingly plated. The cake is quite smooth but not gooey while the condiments on top of it makes it really fragrant. Don’t really know what the condiments are actually but it makes this turnip cake quite unique. HKD $86.

 

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IMG_6225If you still remember, I also had this abalone puff in Lung King Heen. While the one in Lung King Heen has diced chicken in the pastry, Tin Lung Heen uses roast goose which makes it SUPER heavenly. The roast goose has a slight pepper taste which makes it super fragrant and definitely tastes different from chicken. The abalone sauce is also rich and soothing while abalone is thick and has a super good texture. Puff was also very fragrant. I really don’t mind having two of this. HKD $174.

IMG_6228E fu noodle with crab meat. Though it looks bland and unappealing, it actually is very delicious. This dish is meant to be light but together with it, the noodles were actually surprisingly fragrant. Crab meat is smooth and noodles are uniformly quoted with the fragrant sauce. Very special way of preparing e fu noodles and it is the first time I taste such a rendition. Yums. HKD $248.

IMG_6229And then we came to dessert. The egg tart is nice but just the usual egg tarts that we can get from other places. Crust is thin while the custard is very buttery. Good. HKD $78.

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IMG_6234I believe most people wouldn’t have guessed what’s in the sesame ball before biting it. Yes, it’s the super fragrant lao sha! Very delicious fragrant runny salty egg custard in this sesame ball. This is my first time eating this and I like it! It should be quite easy to imagine the taste for such a combination. HKD $68.

IMG_6230Never would I have thought that I would order a bowl of mango puree with pomelo as it is something that is easy to make but this was highly recommended by the waiter and I like it. The special ingredient added was the aloe vera actually and it’s high quality pomelo. Creamy puree with all the fresh ingredients tasted really refreshing and is a cut above most mango puree. Yums. HKD $88.

IMG_6233And then they gave us the complementary gui fa gou and cookie. Gui fa gou wasn’t overly sweet and tasted slightly fragrant too.

So after saying so much, I guess the verdict of this restaurant is apparent – a MUST go! Creativity can be seen in some of the dim sum dishes, if not they are cooked to perfection. Service here is also very attentive as they will keep refilling your cup of tea and the waiter who kept serving us has tvb charisma and is quite knowledgeable. His recommendations were good and it was like a cantonese chit chat when we asked what the far away islands are. They also gave brochures to us about their CNY menu but I would be in Singapore already regrettably. Very good service indeed! Given the service, ambience and quality of food, I must say that this restaurant is one to look out for. I am really impressed by the way Hong Kong manages to make their traditional food so upmarket and opulent really! This is by far, the best overall dim sum experience. And yes, Merry Christmas from Hong Kong!!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant!

 

Lung King Heen (Part two)

Lung King Heen

Four Seasons Hotel

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Yeah, it’s a revisit to Lung King Heen! The first time when I was there was actually five months ago in July 2013 and this time I brought my parents to try the ‘best’ dim sum in the world. Service here is also impeccable as they would quickly run to your table when they spot you refilling your own cup of tea. Every dim sum was, like what my parents said, very well executed and they love the food here.

IMG_6089Scallop cheung fen. Scallops were fresh and succulent. Love the fragrant sauce here. HKD $88.

IMG_6091This is my favourite from the first visit and is still my preferred cheung fen this time (over the scallop one). This is lobster cheung fen with chest nut. Super fresh and delicious lobster meat wrapped in the slithery smooth cheung fen. Sauce was so fragrant and everything just came together as a very good combination. HKD $150.

IMG_6090OMG, the super duper good seabass dumpling. This doesn’t have the chef recommendation sticker next to it but it’s Me recommended really. Skin was good, just of the right thickness and the fish in it is delicious. It’s my first time having fish meat dumpling and I thought it was really well executed. Fish in it was generous too. It’s really a dim sum you can’t find in many other countries, not even Singapore. HKD $60.

IMG_6092Yes, nobody will forget to order this signature LOBSTER, PRAWN, SCALLOP dumpling when they are in Lung King heen. Super fresh and succulent layers of seafood and you could taste the different textures when you bite into it. It’s like medley of surprises in that one bite! The skin is also very luscious and smooth. HKD $45 for one and of course we got 3!

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IMG_6099When you don’t forget about the lobster dumpling, you also would not forget their second signature dim sum – the abalone chicken pastry. Pastry didn’t taste too buttery and doesn’t make you feel queasy; that really displayed the prowess of this 3 michelin starred chef. Abalone was also springy and I love the texture. I literally slowly chewed my food for once! HKD $56 for one and again we of course ordered 3.

IMG_6094Taro pudding which is so good again. There’s a substantial amount of taro in this lor bak gou with turnip. The outer crust is crispy and the whole ‘pudding’ isn’t gooey at all. There’s again different textures to an otherwise simple dim sum! HKD $60.

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IMG_6097Char Siew polo bao with pine seeds. Really fluffy bun and the polo crust was just fragrant. I like the char siew filling too as it’s fragrant, sweet and really savoury. My mum said it’s a little sweet for her but thought it was perfectly fine for me! HKD $60.

IMG_6096The scallop pear puffs. I guess it’s called pear as it looks slightly like one. There’s one fat succulent scallop in each of this yam pastry. The crispy skin was really well fried as it feels really fragrant, flaky and not oily. HKD $60.

IMG_6102Seafood crispy noodles. The very outstanding thing about this dish is that the noodles felt really crispy yet doesn’t feel fried at all as it wasn’t oily. This again, displayed the chefs culinary skills. I just felt that the sauce was a little bit bland until I added the red vinegar light sauce given to us for this noodles. This dish is actually meant to be light, but together with the vinegar, it made it very palatable and appetising actually! HKD $320.

IMG_6104We ended the meal with some complementary sesame cookies which were fragrant and jelly which was springy, light and has a little flower fragrance.

Yes, this definitely isn’t a cheap dim sum place but I would say that it’s worth almost every dollar spent and every calory taken in as you can’t get such perfect dim sum in most other countries, not even in Singapore. Indeed, I guess the chef really has what it takes to be the only 3 michelin chef for a chinese restaurant. We spent a total of HKD $1326 for the three of us. It is the first time that I ate my food a little more slowly just to savour every bit.

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Andre

Restaurant Andre

Near Outram MRT station

Ranked as 38th in the world’s best 50 restaurant and 5th in Asia’s best 50 restaurant, Andre really has what it takes to be in the glamorous position it is in today. Had the five course set lunch for $150 in total and it can simply be summed up by a word – impeccable. Everything is so good, very creative and all the tastes complement each other greatly. Despite being creative, you wouldn’t find its food confusing. Really find it meticulous and well thought.

andre - 1 andre - 5 Very pretty interior the restaurant has. It has three storeys and every level has a different theme. Was seated on the third floor and there was his collection of michelin guide books and prizes. Really cute area and you will know that he is really serious about food.

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andre - 3 Started with some snacks and it was lobster sandwich. The bread wrapped around the lobster filling was crispy and thin and lobster meat was substantial too. Very tasty and well marinated. Love the chives on it as well.

andre - 4Pickled vegetables with yuzu espuma. There’s also small mackerel cubes and herbs and ponzu vinaigrette sorbet. Small balls of rice were also present. This French course definitely has Japanese influences in it. Yuzu and ponzu really makes it a very good appetiser and whets your appetite. Really love the rice as it has crispy rice in it as well and thought such a combination makes the overall texture of the rice really interesting and also more fragrant. Also really love the presentation and I thought it looked a bit like gardens by the bay. Really creative course!

andre - 6 Croquettes of langoustine with pickled vegetables, potato espuma and butter sponge at the side. Topped with fragrant lobster broth with sakura ebi, this course was superb and flavourful. A medley of different tastes that is really satisfying. Langoustine was really tasty and fresh and together with the lobster broth, it makes it even better. The whole presentation was again very fascinating and not confusing at all. Every scoop is really delicious.

andre - 7 Foie gras jelly with truffle and Japanese chives. Though i don’t like fatty stuff, I think this Foie gras jelly was really well made. Foie gras was really fragrant and the pudding was very smooth and had a very heavy fragrant taste. The truffle goes very well with the foie gras and I thought this was a very good dish.

Andre - 8 This baguette is worth mentioning as it is freshly baked and really soft and fluffy inside.

Andre - 9 Mains was chicken breast with wheat apricot ragout and broccoli mousse. Am not a fan of chicken breast as it is usually very dry but this wasn’t at all. Very moist, soft and delicious indeed. Love the rice here again as it has fried cereal in it and springy apricot bits in it which makes it really fresh.

Andre - 10 The pre dessert was lychee jelly with yoghurt with freeze dried raspberry. The exciting combination of tastes just bursts in your mouth when you pop it in. Lychee was fresh and springy while yoghurt was smooth and freeze dried raspberry was fresh though dried and makes this pre dessert super exciting.

Andre - 11 The dessert tasted like chocolate snicker. It tasted really good as well but just thought it may be a little normal. It was another dessert on the menu but they changed it very last minute I guess. This may be the only course that may not have wowed me but is still very delicious.

On the whole, the 5 course menu sets to wow you and would make you to want to go for the dinner menu despite the steep price. Every course really makes you look forward to the next one. Not only is presentation very pleasing to the eye, his food simply wakes up our five senses. Having so much passion in food, I hope that Andre will and I believe he will be in the michelin guide next year if there is one coming out for southeast asia!

Verdict: An Excellent restaurant (Must go and revisit)

Shinji by Kanesaka

Shinji by Kanesaka

Raffles Hotel

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It is official: I have finally found a good Japanese restaurant that does fine dining in Singapore. Shinji restaurant is opened by the 2 michelin star chef from Tokyo, Shinji Kanesaka. Came across this restaurant in Asia’s best 50 restaurant and I know I must try it as I am quite desperate to discover a good fine dining Japanese restaurant after not being able to find one for so long. One that is comparable to the one michelin Jap restaurant in London, Umu and Netherlands, Yamazato. Finally, there indeed is one out there in Singapore, Shinji! Know that there’s waku ghin but thought that is really out of my budget till I earn enough.

The chef who served us today is Oshino Koichiro and he was previously from Yamazato. Was really a coincidence that I’ve been to that restaurant before! And now for some serious sushi pictures.

ImageRed snapper! I was taken a little surprise by this first sushi as the rice was warm. Very special I thought and needless to say, every grain of rice was well and uniformly flavoured. Snapper was smooth, and definitely fresh, as could be seen from the big slabs of fish in the previous photo.

ImageSquid sushi. I am not a fan of ika as I usually cannot chew the squid into bits when I have it in other chains. But this one wasn’t the case at all, really don’t know how he did it but the squid is of the right texture. A little chewy but breaks off easily when you bite it. He also squeezed a little bit of lime juice on it to make it taste even fresher.

ImageChuttoro sushi. Thick and well sliced chuttoro! Fish tasted a little sweet too, seafood sweet.

ImageTuna that tasted like wagyu according to the chef. It’s in between the fattest and less fat part. Indeed, it looks like it but as I have not had raw wagyu I don’t know if they taste similar. Nevertheless, a pretty sushi!

ImageAji horse mackerel. Well executed again.

ImageZuke marinated tuna. The chef prepared this by putting the sliced tuna in a bowl and then marinates it with soya sauce (I guess). Texture is quite different from the chuttoro, a little softer and more slithery I thought which still goes well for me!

ImagePrawn sushi. Has shrimp powder under it and makes it so fragrant. Quite a different piece of prawn sushi as its colours are really bright and enticing. It’s really not just boiled prawn with mirin rice. There’re a lot of fine details to it like the shrimp powder, wasabi, slightly flavoured prawn and of course the tasty rice.

ImageOnito sushi. This sushi tasted a little different as there’s a little herbs under it. Fragrant in a different way, as if spring is back.

ImageNegitoro. Negi means chopped. This nori sushi is so different. Nori, according to my friend, was fanned by the chef inside (according to Japan hour) and I really think so as it is crispy! It’s the first time I have gunkan with crispy nori wrapped around it. You usually only have it crispy if it’s on temaki. The topping is really fragrant, very good mix of spices and ingredients that goes so well with the chopped fish.

ImageReally good clear soup. It is like what its name says, clear! Very refreshing and tasty, full of fresh ingredients taste. The meatball was springy, very tasty and fragrant too. Love it to bits.

ImageAnd then we had the Anaho. Grilled eel. It was still piping hot when it was laid on the chef board. Really fragrant and fresh.

ImageThe maki were commendable too! Though it’s a simple snack, the cucumber maki will really surprise you. Very crunchy and fresh, as if it has just been harvested from a farm. Never had such good cucumber sushi before.

ImageReally cute tamago. Looks like custard and tasted good. Not overly sweet like some other places and is really smooth. Doesn’t feel hollow too unlike most tamago sold in chains. Yums.

ImageFinally, red bean and mochi ice cream dessert. Mochi was smooth and ice cream wasn’t too hard or sweet. Just of the right texture and the red bean was well cooked. Sweet enough for me and texture was very mushy which I love.

So, Shinji has a very limited menu. 3 Sushi courses and 1 omakase. We had the hana menu that costs $75++ which is the cheapest one and I thought it was Kanpeki (perfect). With the chef preparing your sushi in front of you meticulously, I’m sure you will not be bored. Really artistic the way he prepares his sushi. And I think fine Japanese dining will always try to bring you through the different seasons in Japan, allowing you to literally experience them through its cuisine. Am so thankful that Shinji decided to open a restaurant here and I am quite sure I will return for the more expensive sushi or maybe the omakase one day. Service here is also kanpeki and the waitresses are all clad in kimono. I just realised that while all the males are chefs, all the females are waitresses. And judging from my tone, this is a place that I would recommend people to go to if you want serious Japanese food. I thought I was in Japan for a moment as all the seafood and fishes were flown fresh from tsukiji which I believe totally. Being the 32nd on Asia’s Best 50 restaurants 2013, you will definitely be a satisfied customer!