Dim sum @ Red Star

December 7, 2014 in Chinese

And very frankly, I think Red Star needs no further introduction. When discussing where to head (off to) for dim sum, Red Star will always pop up.

But a little history of Red Star Restaurant for any curious souls. =) Red Star was opened by chef Lau Yoke Pui, one of the four Heavenly Kings (四天王) of Cantonese Cuisine. As extracted from fellow blogger ieatishootipost‘s post:-

So how did these Four Men of culinary legend come to be? Well, they were all disciples of Hong Kong Master Chef Luo Chen who was the Head Chef at Cathay Restaurant in the 50′s….. and the Cathay was the Grand Dame of Cantonese Cuisine. These four Singaporeans started training under Chef Luo as apprentices and worked their way up to be Chefs. When the master felt that their Culinary Kung Fu had reach the limits of what could be achieved in his kitchen, he sent them out to spread Cantonese Cuisine to a wider audience….. Chef Lau Yoke Pui was the one who headed Red Star which was eventually taken over by Chef Sin Leong and Chef Hooi upon his passing.

Red Star does not accept reservation. So it will be good to come early cause some of their dishes run out by afternoon. Upon arrival, we immediately joined the queue which was on the immediate right after the entrance. Although the queue was long, it moved pretty fast and we were allocated a table within 20 minutes.

And because the restaurant was really busy on weekends, instead of waiting for the push carts to come to us, we were searching for the push carts that had the items we wanted. But a good thing about their order-card is that the dishes’ names were spelled out on it. So it allowed us to see the full range of dim sum offered, and one can always decide what new items to try too.

And from the push carts, we ordered:-

1) Ha-kau (虾饺), $4 (above)

2) Siew-mai (烧卖), $4 (above)

3) Fried prawn dumpling (明虾角), $4 (above)

4) Chicken feet (凤爪), $4 (above)

5) Glutinous rice (荷叶饭), $4 (above)

6) Egg tart (蛋挞), $4 (above)

7) Scallop rice roll (带子肠粉), $4.20 (above) – Other flavours included prawn ($4.20), B.B.Q pork ($4), chicken ($4) and beef ($4).

8) Nai wong bao (奶皇包), $4 (above) – We went searching for liu sha bao (流沙包), but the staff must have misheard us and gave us egg custard bun instead of salted egg custard bun. So yes, one may want to be careful.

9) Cha sao bao (叉烧包), $3 (above)

10) Jin long ji (金龙鸡), $8 (above) – While searching for our items, one of the staff recommended this as one of their signature dishes. So we decided to try, and it was indeed not too bad. Skin was crisp thin while it seemed that they have further treated the meat by mincing it! The meat had a unique texture, being similar to that of paste.

11) Durian roll (榴莲卷), $4.20 (above) – Again, one of the staff recommended this when we mistook her push cart as one with the rice rolls (肠粉). And when we decided to try one portion, the friendly auntie said “These run out very fast. I will save one more portion for you cause you will definitely come back for more.” And she was right. These were so good that we had to go back for more cause no one in the group of 6 (of us) wanted to share our roll. Ha! They were very generous with the durian fillings too.

12) Honey dew with seigo (蜜瓜西米露), $4.20 (above)

13) Logan almond beancurd (龙眼豆腐), $4.20 (above)

I won’t say the food was fantastic. It was pretty average with a few dishes that shone. Like the egg tarts, jin long ji (金龙鸡) and durian roll. But, I would recommend Red Star for the ambience.

Red Star must be one of the few restaurants which provide a nostalgic experience by transporting us to older days with its decor. Think carpeted floor with red velvet chairs. And in a way, my friends and I better appreciated our dim sum with us having to hunt down our food by searching for the correct push carts. Ha.

And if one plans to drive, do try to park at the level nearer to the restaurant (level 7) so that one could just take the staircase. It was a pain for us (who took public transport) waiting at ground level as there was only 1 small lift which was always packed.

54 Chin Swee Road, #07-23, Singapore
6532 5266
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Sun : 07:00 – 15:00
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30
Value: 7
Service: 6 

Dim sum @ Swa Tow Restaurant

October 5, 2014 in Chinese

My brother was lamenting of how we have been eating all cuisines but Chinese. So, I suggested heading off to Swa Tow Restaurant. I had their dim sum last year and still can’t quite get over their liu sha bao (流沙包). So I felt it was a good place to bring my family to.

We reached at 11.30am on a Saturday afternoon to a busy restaurant. But we were promptly led to our table and were lucky to be given a table located at the side / perimeter as it meant we had easy and direct access to the push carts. For customers sitting in the centre, the staff would go up to them and say what they have in their push carts instead of being able to show the dishes.

There was no menu for the dim sum. Thus, we relied very much on the staff whom we noted were mostly aunties and uncles. Friendly aunties and uncles. =) One of the push cart aunties would unload the different types of dim sum for us to look and choose while others would say what they have.

And from the push carts, we ordered:-

1) Pork dumpling (siew mai) with fish roe, $4.50 (above) – One of the items I will always order for dim sum, and these were so good. An entire prawn was packed within the siew mai. Such a delight to bite into it!

2) Mini pork dumpling (小笼包), $4 (above) – These were average. Would have been better if there was soup within the dumpling.

3) Pumpkin dumpling, $4 (above) – A vegetarian dish, I did not really like this. I would think one needs to have an acquired taste.

4) Szechuan wanton, $4.50 (above) – Surprisingly, this was pretty good. Skin was thin and smooth. But it was the spicy-sour sauce that brought out the flavour of the meat within.

5) Chicken feet, $3.80 (above)

6) Pan-fried carrot cake, $3.50 (above)

7) Malay cake, $2 (above) – I was quite surprised when the staff presented the dish and introduced it as “Malay cake” when it looked like our fa gao (发糕). But this was light in texture and slightly sweet. Not as dense and sticky as compared to our Chinese steamed cake.

8) Molten salted egg yolk bun (金碧流沙包), $3 (above) – This was the bomb! The filling of custard and egg yolk just burst as we sunk our teeth into the bun or tore it apart. So good. My brother is now a convert! Keke.

9) Paper-wrapped chicken (纸包鸡), $4.50 (above) – Meat was tender and flavourful. The only drawback was that the dish was really oily. My brother did not like that the paper stuck to the chicken skin.

10) Porridge (fish), $4.50 (above)

11) Rice noodle roll (chee cheong fun) with pork, $3.50 (above) – Skin was thick while they could have been more generous with portion of char siew. I remembered this was better on my previous visit.

12) Deep fried pig trotter (脆皮元蹄), $28 (above) – We had wanted roast meat but were informed that they did not have that. Instead, the manager recommended their signature dish. And it was indeed not too bad. Skin was thin and crispy while meat was fork tender.

13) Man tou (馒头), $2 (above) – With a minimum order of 4 pieces, we ordered these plain Chinese steamed buns to go with the pig trotter dish. And I am glad my Mom suggested getting these because the buns were surprisingly good!

14) Herbal jelly (龟苓膏), $3.50 (above, left)

15) Mango pudding (芒果布丁) with milk, $3.50 (above, right)

16) Almond jelly with lychee, $3,50, (above)

17) Chinese tea, $1.50 per person – We were given a pot which we could ask for refill of hot water.

We were happy with our dim sum experience. Food was good and affordable. Although one may want to go for their dim sum buffet that’s available from 3pm to 5pm daily, priced at $19.80 per person on weekdays and $22.80 on weekends.

Because there’s no menu to specifically mention what’s offered for dim sum, one may want to refer to their website too. It’s mentioned some of their other signatures which we did not manage to try include gold fish dumpling, crispy durian and shrimp roll, crystal dumpling in Teochew style. But service was good. When we asked for a particular dish, the staff wouldn’t mind leaving their push cart to go to the correct push cart and take the dish which we requested.

Parking wise, there’s a big gantry carpark (behind Toa Payoh Public Library) where one can get a parking lot. And as the restaurant is located on 2nd level, one will need to climb up and down a long flight of stairs. I forgot about it and had to go slow in my high heels. Ha. But there’s a (small) lift for handicap and elderly although one will need to call the restaurant to operate the lift.

That aside, Swa Tow Restaurant also has a Teochew opera performances by actor Nick Shen and his team on Friday from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

Blk 181 Toa Payoh Lorong 4, #02-602, Singapore
6363 1717, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 08:00 – 11:00 (Dim sum)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:00 – 15:00 (Lunch & dim sum)
Value: 7
Mon – Sun : 15:00 – 17:00 (Hi-tea buffet)
Service: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)