Dim sum @ Empress

June 7, 2016 in Chinese

A friend recently went to Empress for drinks and posted pictures of the desserts he had on Facebook. And let’s just say… The desserts were so pretty! One could tell much thought and effort was put into the plating. And of course, a quick search on the internet and instagram followed suit. Ha. =p

However, I decided to check out their weekend dim sum buffet in the end. I was supposed to go for dim sum with another group of friends, but we had our plan for dim sum changed to something else. So I was in need for dim sum. Haha.

Unfortunately, reservation at Empress was a tricky affair. What we thought would be a simple phone call became an email correspondence where we had to fill up a form with our credit card detail. To which, we had to wait for their email that our reservation was confirmed. We were also told that we would be charged $62.10 (per head) for cancellation that’s made with less than 72 hours advanced notice or in the event of no show.

And of the 2 seatings, we decided to go with 11.30am over 2pm. However, for the first seating, we would need to vacate by 1.30pm.

Empress, located within Asian Civilisation Museum, is a 12 to 15 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT Station. They are located at the back of the building which oversees the Singapore River.

And from the dim sum menu (pages 1, 2), we started our dim sum buffet with:-

1) Appetizer Complimentary (above) – Yam chips and lotus root chips.

2) Signature Dish #1 (above) – The dishes under the signature menu are limited to 1 serving per person. And soup of the day was spinach and seafood soup.

3) Signature Dish #2 with options of:

(A) Singapore chilli king prawns (above) – With golden mantou

(B) Crispy-battered sea grouper (above) – Yuzu, spicy ginger flower glaze. My girlfriend loved this. Which I thought was pretty good too. It’s almost like a Thai dish with the sour-sweet sauce.

4) Signature Dish #3 with options of:

(A) Triple roast platter (above) – Char siew, crackling roast pork, sticky pork ribs. This was good! A must try.

(B) Crispy sesame chicken (above) – With lime sauce.

5) Signature Dish #4 with options of:

(A) Not-so-Portuguese egg tart (above) – Egg custard, flaky pastry, milk gelato, local milk tea caramel. I forgot I was drawn to Empress for their creative desserts. So when this was served, we were pleasantly surprised. And this was not too bad. Although I have to admit that an egg tart taste better when it’s in its non-deconstructed state. I prefer biting into a (physical) tart such that I get a good mouthful of both the crispy, crackly pastry and the rich, sweet egg custard with its slightly caramelised top.

(B) Peanut-coated black sesame ‘mochi’ balls (above) – With black sesame sponge.

6) Assorted dumplings (above) – Starting from the top in a clockwise manner, we tried the steamed prawn dumpling (har gau), steamed mushroom dumpling, steamed pumpkin & pork skin dumpling, pork & prawn steamed dumpling (siew mai) and steamed seafood & spinach dumpling of scallop, prawn, crab and spinach. For these, we were allowed to order numerous servings. However, the dumplings were not very impressive; The skin was thick. So when we ordered seconds for the steamed prawn dumpling, I didn’t finish the entire thing. You know where the skin is folded in order to enclose the filling within? I ate everything but the folded ends. Save my stomach space lah. Give the steamed mushroom dumpling a miss. There’s barely any mushroom within! Head straight for the pork & prawn steamed dumpling. And it’s odd but the steamed pumpkin & pork skin dumpling tasted better (to me) when it has cooled down to room temperature.


7) Assorted fried items (above) – From left to right, we had the crispy butter-baked shredded duck bun, baked char siew puff, garlic & prawn spring roll and bacon & prawn vermicelli roll. And I must say, everything on this plate was awesome! I seriously loved the duck bun and char siew puff. They were so good to the extent that I risked it all and secretly packed the mentioned two to share with a friend whom I was meeting after my dim sum. Ssshhhhhhhhhh. But to clarify… We loved the duck bun and char siew puff so much that we over-ordered cause we overestimated our eating capacity. So instead of letting the staff clear our leftover, I might as well pack them. Yes? =p

8) Pan-fried turnip cake (above)

9) Sliced fish, spinach & shredded ginger porridge (above)

10) Dried scallop & shredded duck porridge (above) – My girlfriend didn’t like this as she felt the duck taste was too strong. She’s one who don’t take pork for the same reason. But this was fine with me.

11) Steamed molten egg custard bun (above)

Will I recommend Empress? Well, I am on the fence for this. Although it’s a buffet and one can eat one’s heart out to get one’s money worth, the variety is pretty limited. Some of my must-order-when-eat-dim-sum dishes like chicken feet, steamed rice roll (chee cheong fun), etc weren’t on the menu.

However, Empress emits a high class vibe with its contemporary interior and chic décor. Instead of heading off to hotels for hi-tea, one can opt for something different by chilling the afternoon away with dim sum while enjoying the view of the Singapore River. My girlfriend and I were so comfortable that we (unconsciously) spent 3.5 hours there! We probably would have continued to stay on if I wasn’t to meet another friend after dim sum.

And yes, we were not kicked out although Empress came across as being really strict with the reservation and seating. My friend and I had intended to reach at 11.30am. However, I was running really late. When my girlfriend called to inform the restaurant that we will reach at 12pm instead, they mentioned we would still need to leave by 1.30pm to allow for the second seating. However, we got to stay on till 3pm! And it was nice that although we belonged to the first seating, the staff still took our orders at 2.30pm (second seating is from 2pm).

So I guess Empress makes an ideal venue to chill and catch up with friends if one isn’t too particular with the food (especially the quality of the dumplings) and doesn’t need much variety.

1 Empress Place, Asian Civilisations Museum, #01-03, Singapore
6776 0777, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7 

Dim sum @ Yum Cha (Macau)

March 2, 2015 in Chinese

My friend and I stayed at Sheraton when we were holidaying in Macau. And on mornings when we woke up late and were too hungry to venture far to fill our empty stomachs, we would head down to Yum Cha which was a mere 5 to 8 minutes walk from Sheraton’s main lobby.


And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) 金菇紫菜卷, MOP38 (above) – Seafood enoki seaweed roll.

2) 蟹子烧卖, MOP32 (above) – “Siu mai” dumplings with crab roe.

3) 鲜虾饺皇, MOP35 (above) – “Har kau” prawn dumplings.

4) 豆豉汁蒸排骨, MOP35 (above) – Marinated pork spare ribs in black bean sauce.

5) 酱皇蒸凤爪, MOP32 (above) – Chicken feet with black bean.

6) 甜酸炸云吞, MOP32 (above) – Deep-fried wontons with sweet & sour sauce.

7) 椒盐鸡软骨, MOP88 (above) – Sauted chicken soft bone with salt and pepper. This was really addictive.

8) X.O. 酱炒萝卜糕, MOP36 (above) – Wok-fried turnip cake with X.O. sauce.

9) 椒盐豆腐, MOP38 (above) – Deep-fried diced bean curd with five spices salt.

10) 蜜汁叉烧肠粉, MOP35 (above) – Barbecued pork and Chinese parsley steamed rice roll.

11) 流沙包, MOP28 (above) – Steamed custard buns with salted egg yolk.

12) 蜜汁叉烧包, MOP30 (above) – Barbecued pork buns.

13) 皮蛋瘦肉粥, MOP48 (above) – Century egg and shredded pork congee.

14) 菊花茶, MOP30 (per flask) (above) – Chrysanthenum tea.

And from the ‘barbecued meat & noodle soup’ section on the menu which was available from 11am to 11pm, we could choose to order noodle (dry) with 1 or 2 barbecued meats at MOP78 and MOP118 or noodle (soup) with 1 or 2 barbecued meats for MOP48 and MOP68 respectively. And options of barbecued (BBQ) meat included BBQ pork, poached chicken, soya chicken, roasted pork belly and roasted duck (additional MOP10) while options of noodle included rice noodles, silver pin noodles, flat noodles, rice vermicelli and egg noodles. And some of the items which we ordered:-

15) Duo barbecued noodle soup (above) – With egg noodle and choice of meat being soya chicken and roasted duck (additional MOP10). However, I was a little upset when the served roasted duck had lots of bones.

16) Duo barbecued noodle soup (above) – With poached chicken and barbecued pork being the choice of meat.

And very frankly, when my friends first suggested coming to Yum Cha for (a convenient) breakfast, I was a little disappointed that we were dining within a shopping mall. I had wanted us to head out to try more of the must-tries for breakfast. However, after having tried the dim sum, I was glad we came to Yum Cha cause the food was decent! Or should I say, the food was pretty impressive. And affordable too.

And one would think that service would be lacklustre, especially with the staff managing a big crowd in the spacious restaurant. However, service was unexpectedly good. My friends and I came in a big group of 8. So when we ticked off the dishes we wanted to order on the order form, we ordered our items in quantities of 2. However, instead of just accepting our order, the staff went through our order and advised us to reduce our quantity when they realised we had over-ordered. So yes, we like such service!

Yum Cha 桃园
Estrada da Baia de N. Senhora da Esperanc, Sands Cotai Central, Level 1, Macau
+853.8113 7970, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 07:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 8

Dim sum @ The Cathay Restaurant // CLOSED

January 10, 2015 in Chinese

And on days when we don’t feel like having brunch staples (you know, like egg benedict, pancake, etc) for breakfast, my girlfriends and I would then next think of dim sum! No? =p

We were off to The Cathay Restaurant for dim sum. My frog-in-the-well girlfriend did not realise The Cathay was actually the name of the Chinese restaurant we were heading to. Although I got to admit it can be confusing since The Cathay was also located within The Cathay.

Reservation was definitely needed. There was a queue when we reached at 1.30pm. Well okie, it was a late breakfast. Keke! So to save on the waiting time, one must make reservation!

And from the dim sum menu (pages 1, 2) and dessert menu, we ordered:-

1) Steamed fresh prawn dumpling, $5.60 (4 pieces) (above)

2) Steamed xiao long bao, $4.20 (3 pieces) (above)

3) Steamed siew mai with crab roe, $5.20 (4 pieces) (above) – I preferred the rendition with a whole piece of fresh and crunchy prawn. Cause the one served at The Cathay did not have, I was slightly disappointed. Not that it wasn’t good though. Just a personal preference!

4) Steamed spare ribs with black bean sauce, $4.20 (above)

5) Baked mini egg tarts, $4.20 (3 pieces) (above) – A must try! Crust was buttery and crisp with its many layer while the egg custard was smooth. It looked fragile for its small size but held up well.

6) Steamed chicken feet with black pepper sauce, $3.90 (above) – Was a little spicy for non-spicy eaters like myself.

7) Deep-fried chicken winglet with prawn paste, $8 (6 pieces) (above)

8) Pan-fried cheong fan “home-style”, $8 (above)

9) Pan-fried carrot cake with Chinese sausages, $4.20 (3 pieces) (above) – Of the 2 carrot cakes, I actually preferred this over the one with XO chilli sauce (item 10). Although it did not come in the irregular shape as I liked mine to, this was sticky just as how I preferred it to be. And it was with an interesting twist with small bits of sausages within.

10) Fried carrot cake with bean sprout and XO chilli sauce, $10 (above)

11) Pig’s trotter in vinegar sauce, $8 (above) – As this had the icon of a chef’s hat on the menu, I just had to order it although pig’s trotter was something we won’t normally try. Please tell me I am normal to be more bias towards ‘chef’s recommended dishes’. Keke. And this was indeed good. Although do be careful! What looked like big (rectangular) pieces of lean meat was actually ginger!

12) Steamed yolk cream bun, $4.20 (3 pieces) (above)

13) Steamed BBQ pork bun, $3.90 (3 pieces) (above) – A must try. I loved how the bun was packed tightly with sweet and lean pork.

14) Century egg porridge, $5 (above)

15) Deep-fried prawn roll with mango, $4.80 (3 pieces) (above) – I did not like this. It was weird having the mushy mango against the crunchy prawn. I guess I’m still rigid to the idea of mixing fruits with food so blatantly / directly.

16) Deep-fried beancurd skin roll with seaweed, $4.20 (3 pieces) (above)

17) Fried rice with diced seafood and fish roe, $30 (medium) (above) – My girlfriends wanted rice, so we decided to try their fried rice. The staff gave us the medium size since there was 6 of us. A small was priced at $20 on the a-la carte menu. And it was really not too bad. It’s amazing how a simple dish of fried rice can be so addictive.

18) Durian mochi, $6 (above) – Ordered this from the a-la carte menu although I noticed there’s also one on the dim sum menu for $6.60. If one is a lover of mochi and durian, I would recommend ordering this!

19) Chilled fresh mango pudding, $4.80 (above)

20) Chilled coconut jelly served in young coconut, $6.80 (above)

The Cathay Restaurant makes an ideal place for big (group) gathering. Although the place was packed, my girlfriends and I were oblivious to the noise and were very engrossed in our conversations. Ha. But because it was packed, it was a little difficult getting the attention of the staff when we wanted to order additional items. Nonetheless, I will recommend The Cathay for we really enjoyed the food.

2 Handy Road, The Cathay, #02-01, Singapore
6732 7888, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Sun : 10:00 – 17:00 (Lunch)
Value: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7