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Mott 32
Photograph: Courtesy of Mott 32 King prawn har gow

The best dim sum restaurants in Singapore

From old-school joints to modern restaurants experimenting with new flavours, here’s where you can find the best dim sum in the city

By Nicole-Marie Ng and Fabian Loo
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Har gow, siew mai, char siu bao – these are just some of the standards that every good dim sum restaurants should be able to perfect. But beyond that, what makes a great dim sum restaurant is its variety of offerings and warm service – because this isn't Hong Kong and we don't have to tolerate aunties shouting at us in Cantonese. Here's where to go for your next gathering when everyone's hankering for some yum cha.

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Mott32
Photograph: Mott 32

Mott 32

Restaurants Marina Bay

Dim sum is made fancy at the Singapore’s outpost of famed Chinese restaurant Mott 32. Here, pair your dim sum with the restaurant's range of Asian-inspired tipples. Order the plump siew mai ($9 for two) that comes stuffed with Iberico pork and soft-boiled quail egg, or try the Singapore-exclusive sugar-coated Peking duck bun ($10 for three). If you’re coming in a big group, be sure to ring ahead and reserve the iconic applewood roasted duck ($108) to avoid disappointment. 

Jade

Restaurants Chinese Raffles Place

It’s probably the prettiest place in the city for dim sum. Take in picturesque views from Jade’s floor-to-ceiling windows, or be entranced by its recently refurbished interiors featuring pastel jade hues and specially commissioned wallpaper printed with birds native to Singapore. Its dim sum set lunch is priced at $58 but come during the weekend for a more extensive selection of Jade's dim sum treasures. Available as part of a set or à la carte. expect staples such as siew mai with abalone and shrimp dumplings, as well as unique creations like deep fried taro paste wrapped in truffle and mushroom. Don’t miss chef Leong Chee Yeng’s signature osmanthus char siew bao, either – the fluffy steamed buns are meaty and bear a hint of floral fragrance that perfumes each bite.

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Swee Choon

Restaurants Chinese Rochor

Don’t be surprised to find a queue well into the early hours for a seat at Swee Choon Tim Sum. The 50-year-old establishment that's a hit with a younger, post-clubbing and night owl set occupies five ground-floor shophouses to keep up with the demand for their signature mee-suah kueh ($2.40), Portuguese egg tarts ($3 for two) and custard-rich liu sha bao ($4.50 for three).

Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

With striking black and gold walls, booth seats that look like giant jewel boxes, and framed pieces of artistic calligraphy at every turn, Wan Hao’s posh interiors make the perfect backdrop for its refined Cantonese dishes and dim sum. Available à la carte during weekday lunch, the dim sum ranges from favourites like steamed shrimp dumpling with black truffle and cordyceps flower ($6 for two) to deep-fried taro dumplings with mini abalone and scallop ($11 for two). 

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Mitzo

Restaurants Cantonese Orchard

Mitzo serves modern Cantonese dishes with a touch of class, as evidenced by its swanky neon glass panels and jazzy cocktail bar. Pop in for a dim sum set lunch ($28), a three-course meal featuring over ten types of handcrafted dim sum, a double-boiled soup of the day, and dessert. For those who prefer a heartier lunch, the four-course option includes a bowl of braised vermicelli with lobster claw and prawn ball. Alternatively, get the full yum cha experience and all-you-can-drink cocktails, champagne, wines and beer during Mitzo’s weekend brunch ($68 for food, additional $60 for drinks). With over 40 types of dumplings available on top of the other dishes fresh from the wok, you’ll be giddy from this doozy of dumplings and booze. 

Red Star Restaurant

Restaurants Chinatown

Even though it might not dish out the best dumplings in town, Redstar is absolutely worth it. It’s one of the few dim sum spots in town with the authentic pushcart experience and, to match, decor plucked straight out of the ’60s. Aunties flock to your table hawking baskets filled with liu sha bao ($4.70) and xiao long bao ($4.50), then stamping your card to track your orders. And ordering way too much is part of the experience here, so check your self-control at the door. Other reliable favourites include char siew sou ($4.50) and oversized har gao ($4.50) stuffed with whole shrimp.

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Victor’s Kitchen

Restaurants Chinatown

Touting to have the best custard buns in Singapore, Victor’s Kitchen is the spot to hit for simple dim sum that won’t break the bank. The barebones interior is reminiscent of a cha chaan teng in Hong Kong, where you’re expected to share a table and rub shoulders with your fellow diners. The dim sum makes the queue and fuss worth it, though – especially when you order Victor’s king prawn dumplings ($5.20) and scallop and sausage carrot cake with XO sauce ($4.80). As for its famed liu sha bao ($4.80), we find them too sweet and oily to be considered the best in Singapore, so you’re better off saving room for something else on the menu. 

Social Place
Photo: Social Place

Social Place

Restaurants Orchard

Traditional yum cha gets a modern makeover at Social Place. The Hong Kong import is famed for its playful dishes such as its adorable dim sum shaped into pigs, swans, and mushrooms. Ready your phones as you dig into quirky sweet treats of Small Pig Pudding ($6.80) and Mahjong Jelly ($6.80), or try other inventive creations that include the sweet and sour pork on ice ($24.80), the signature roasted quail ($9.90) infused with over ten different herbs and spices, and truffle shiitake buns ($7.80). 

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Beng Hiang
Photograph: Beng Hiang

Beng Hiang

Restaurants Chinese Jurong East

Beng Hiang’s menu is steeped in tradition. After all, the restaurant has been whipping up traditional Hokkien fare since 1978. Now, some 42 years later, you can still find the same age-old dishes in its dim sum buffet lunch buffet (from $18.80). Enjoy usual suspects of homemade prawn dumplings, xiao long bao, and barbecue pork buns in unlimited servings, but make sure to save room for Beng Hiang’s signature dishes that include Hokkien noodles and kong ba bao, or braised pork belly buns.

Cassia
Photograph: Cassia

Cassia

Restaurants Chinese Sentosa

Not all dim sum meals have to be convivial and loud. If you prefer a relaxing afternoon filled with steamy pastries, make the trip to Cassia and enjoy a meal away from the crowd. Available from noon to 2pm daily, the dim sum menu features both the well-loved and the updated. Start off with some comforting shredded chicken porridge with dried scallop and century egg ($8.80), before indulging in an elevated siew mai that comes topped with abalone ($10 for two), steamed prawn dumpling with asparagus ($6 for two), as well as charcoal pork buns stuffed with barbecued Arvinyo Omega 3 pork and black truffle ($7 for two).

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Sum Yi Tai

Bars and pubs Tanjong Pagar

By night it is a buzzy hotspot for intimate meet-ups over cocktails but swing by in the day for its dim sum menu that's sure to bring joy to the CBD lunch crowd. Dig into steaming baskets of har gow, otah siew mai, carrot cake and more before heading back to the office with a food coma. Prices for a basket start from $4.80, making it an affordable option for lunch.

The Dim Sum Place

Restaurants Chinese Rochor

The Dim Sum Place is one of the few Halal-certified dim sum joints in town and probably one of the rare spots you can enjoy a Halal xiao long bao. This makes the place a perfect communal dining spot if you're dining out with a diverse group of friends. Like its namesake, you can find a wide range of dim sum and Cantonese cuisine on the menu, alongside some unique variants like deep-fried siew mai ($5.90) and cheese tarts ($5.90).

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Crystal Jade Golden Palace

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

With one Michelin star to its name, this Singapore-based Chinese culinary group serves contemporary Cantonese and Teochew cuisine in a refined setting. Set menus start from $48 for six dishes including dim sum and a pan-fried Kurobuta pork chop. The expansive restaurant also boasts a 6-metre-wide wine cellar that stocks hundreds of fine wines.

Yan Ting

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

Instead of yum cha at the St Regis, it's yum champagne. Yan Ting's weekend dim sum brunch packages includes one that throws in unlimited servings of champagne the restaurant's house wines, beer, soft drinks and juices ($178). There's also a dim sum set brunch menu priced at $80 and à la carte favourites include braised pig trotter and egg in black vinegar and a complimentary serving each of nourishing double-boiled fish maw soup, and wok-baked lobster in superior stock.

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Yan

Restaurants Chinese City Hall

The onslaught of modern restaurants with their mashed-up cuisines means it’s tough for a traditional Chinese joint to stand out. So Yan is counting on its National Gallery location and a Cantonese chef veteran from Hong Kong as its draws. The dim sum menu includes unique Singaporean flavoured morsels including pan-fried chilli crab buns (9 for three) and steamed Hainanese chicken with sticky rice ($4) alongside familiar favourites like carrot cake with Chinese sausage ($5.80) and steamed pork and prawn dumplings topped with fish roe ($8 for four).

 

Madame Fan
Photo: Liu Hongde

Madame Fan

Restaurants Chinese City Hall

Housed in The NCO Club, Madame Fan is a sexy new concept by Alan Yau, the restaurateur behind the Wagamama brand in the UK. The menu features progressive Chinese dishes including its five house specialities: double boiled four treasure soup, drunken crab rice noodle, steamed soon hock, hand-cut Taiwan noodles and lobster wonton noodles. It also has a small but powerful selection of dim sum on its à la carte menu including scallop siew mai ($18), Sri Lankan mud crab wonton ($18) and Sichuan vegetable dumplings ($6).

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Jiang-Nan Chun

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

With all that timber panelling, the dining room feels a little claustrophobic, while the acoustics are so bad you spend the whole meal forced to speak in whispers or risk having everyone at the next table listen in on every word. Thank goodness, then, for the calibre of the kitchen and the silky-smooth service. It’s the simple dishes that shine; like honey glazed pork collar, poached rice with lobster in a superior stock and tender slow-cooked beef short rib. The dim sum menu is particularly good, especially the crispy puff pastry with black pepper beef.

Summer Palace

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

The Summer Palace, one of the grandes dames of Singapore Cantonese restaurants, shows no sign of slowing down. The service remains smoothly choreographed, everyone speaks Cantonese and its fried rice – perfumed by wok hei and each grain falling separately – is still the one to beat. Its lunch tasting menus are priced from an affordable $56 and comes with a selection of dim sum and other star dishes like stewed lobster with e-fu noodles and spring onions. Its à la carte selection changes with the seasons and includes gems like chicken and prawn Sichuan dumplings and baked chicken tart with baby abalone.

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Taste Paradise

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

Taste Paradise offers innovated and contemporary Cantonese cuisine. Think braised foie gras served with blueberry reduction as well as stir-fried angel hair pasta with matsutake mushrooms. As for the dim sum, Taste Paradise’s XO carrot cake is a must, as is its colourful basket of xiao long bao that come in flavours like garlic, crab roe and ginger.

Hai Tien Lo

Restaurants Chinese City Hall

Hai Tien Lo has the best weekend dim sum buffet in town. It's reasonably priced at $68.80 and generous with most items being free-flow, including double-boiled soups and barbecued meats, all while maintaining pretty stellar quality across its wide-ranging menu. The dim sum is excellent – the har gau is exquisitely pleated with sheer, delicate skin. The roast meats are comprehensive and succulent, particularly the soy sauce chicken, siew yoke and roasted duck. Zi char favourites like yang chow fried rice and pork ribs with bittergourd are more than decent too. And with braised abalone and mini Buddha Jumps Over the Wall on the premium list, it's definitely a bang for your buck. But service can be slow, so you’d best order in large batches.

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Myo Restobar

Restaurants Chinese Raffles Place

Old-school Chinese restaurant Kia Hiang at International Plaza has been a long time favourite among those working in Tanjong Pagar. Its sister restaurant, Myo Restobar is looking to make a similar impression at Oxley Tower downtown. Serving dim sum and other home-style Cantonese dishes, Myo does comfort food right. Don't miss the signature Kia Hiang Claypot Spring Chicken ($22) that's made using a recipe that's been passed on for generation. The chicken is wrapped in a layer of Chinese cabbage and stewed for hours in a herbal gravy resulting in meat that simply falls off the bone, best eaten with a plain bowl of rice. Aside from its signature dish, it has plenty of dim sum options including flakey tenderloin beef pastry ($5.80 for three), braised chicken feet in abalone sauce ($5.20) and dumplings with mushroom and black truffles ($5.20).

Min Jiang

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

With the warm lighting, mirrors and handsome timber panelling, this is still, easily, one of the best-looking Chinese restaurants in town. For its weekday dim sum set lunch (available from March 2 to 29), look forward to offerings of steamed conpoy and scallop dumplings, barbecue pork buns, and pork and century egg congee – a total of eight dishes at just $38 for two-person.

Note that from March 29 to June 6 2020, Min Jiang will undergo renovations. You can still find a curated menu of Sichuan and Cantonese dishes at the hotel's Tudor Courtyard. 

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126 Dim Sum Wen Dao Shi
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

126 Dim Sum Wen Dao Shi

Restaurants Geylang

We all know Swee Choon is the go-to for late night dim sum but 126 Dim Sum has an edge over its biggest competitor ‘cos of its round-the-clock operating hours. It peddles more than a 100 different types of dim sum, running from staples like siew mai and har gao to more interesting bites such as braised duck wings and pork belly yam rolls.

Yum Cha Chinatown
Photo: Yum Cha Restaurant

Yum Cha Chinatown

Restaurants Chinatown

Yum Cha Chinatown serves up a wide range of dim sum dishes. Diners can enjoy classics such as BBQ pork buns ($2.60 for two), cheong fun (from $3.60) and har gao ($4.60 for three). The restaurant also offers set menus which feature six to nine course meals ($78-$628).

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Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant

Restaurants Cantonese City Hall

Since it opened in 1988 this fine-dining restaurant's focus on Cantonese dishes has garnered acclaim, with dishes such as baked cod with specially made chef's sauce on banana leaf deserving special mention. There's also polo char siew buns, crab meat dumpling and red yeast rice dumplings to accompany its Canto selection.

Cherry Garden

Restaurants Chinese City Hall

Located with the Mandarin Oriental, Cherry Garden combines elegant decor with an all-you-can-eat weekend dim sum brunch buffet ($68) – basically, you can stuff your face with all the prawn dumplings, abalone siew mai and kurobuta pork baos in style. À la carte is also available with options like steamed prawn dumpling with black garlic ($9), wagyu beef dumpling with sha cha sauce ($8) and crispy snow crab puff ($12). 

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Majestic Bay Restaurant

Restaurants Chinese Marina Bay

Its location within Gardens by the Bay means that Majestic Bay Restaurant is well poised to serve the tourist horde hankering for local delicacies like chilli crab and chicken rice. But that doesn't mean that the restaurant only sticks to the boring old classics – chef-owner Yong Bing Ngen and executive chef Chee Hin Yew have injected a fresh dose of creativity to its seafood menu, offering dishes like crab tossed in egg white and yellow wine ($95.20) for the chilli shy and crispy chicken cubes in peanut sauce ($36). A tribute to some of Singapore’s favourite classics done with a modern twist, there are also dishes seared Singapore chilli crab meat buns ($6 for three) on its all-day dim sum menu.

Lei Garden

Restaurants Chinese City Hall

With so many of its branches earning Michelin stars in Hong Kong, it comes as no surprise that Singapore's sole Lei Garden has earned a nod from Michelin inspectors here, too. Compared to its counterparts, this restaurant in CHIJMES has a more European look and feel to match its surroundings. The menu, however, is largely the same as the other outlets: expect traditional Cantonese fare like deftly made dim sum and roast meats.

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Tim Ho Wan

Restaurants Chinese City Hall

With eight outlets now spread out across the island, Hong Kong's budget Michelin-starred dim sum master, Mak Kwai Pui hasn't exactly been idle. The famous char siew buns ($5.80 for three) still rank high on every foodie's must-try list. Its outlet at Aperia in Lavender can also sate a supper craving for steamed carrot cake or congee in the wee hours of the morning with its 24/7 opening hours.

Hua Ting

Restaurants Chinese Orchard

Tucked away on the second floor, Hua Ting exudes a deluxe vibe that lures a crowd of suits, high-society types and longtime fans. The service glides along effortlessly while the Canto menu just pops. If there’s an expense account, lay it out for the thick, milky and politically incorrect double-boiled shark’s cartilage soup. The slivers of roast goose are a treat while the steamed fish and delicate daily dim sum spread are just perfect.

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