Cheap dim sum without the queues
My dad is never more enthusiastic about eating in a crowded and bustling environment than when we’re having dim sum. He loves the old Hong Kong feels of enjoying these small bites surrounded by loud chatter from the tables around us, echoes of clinking porcelain tea cups, and harried women pushing dim sum carts stacked high with bamboo baskets around the dining hall.
These 10 underrated and cheap dim sum places may not have vibes of that sort, but any disappointment can be resolved by a couple more pieces of tasty siew mai.
1. Johore Ye Zhi Mei Handmade Bao
If the queues at Swee Choon are way too long, you can still get a dim sum fix at the nearby Johore Ye Shi Handmade Bao. The star dish is their Amy Yip Bao ($3.20), a soup-bowl sized bun stuffed with honeyed chicken and pork. Get this hefty 500g bao to share, together with Tofu Bamboo ($1.70 for two pieces), which comes with rolls made from beancurd skin stuffed with ground pork and bamboo shoots, and open-faced Shrimp Siew Mai ($1.80 for three pieces) on the side.
Address: 208 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208894
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 24 hours
Tel: 6294 2210
2. Food Champ 今食代
Food Champ needs to go on your list of dim sum places to frequent. Besides the staple Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun ($5 for three pieces), don’t miss their unique Yam Custard Bun ($5 for three pieces). These contain a lava-esque, earthy yam filling that tastes like orh nee, the traditional yam paste dessert. Their Char Siew ($4/$8/$10) is another of our recommendations, with a caramelised crusty exterior and succulent meat. Have their affordable Wanton Noodles ($1.50) to complete your meal. Each bowl offers tough-to-match value with two dumplings and springy HK-style egg noodles.
Address: 195 East Coast Road, Singapore 428900
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11am to 9:30pm
Tel: 6297 1612
3. Kuai San Dian Xin
Not only is each item on their menu just $1.30, Kuai San Dian Xin is open 24/7 so you can satisfy your dim sum cravings anytime. Warm your belly up with flavourful Century Egg Pork Porridge ($1.30) prepared in a Cantonese style. They also make good Carrot Cake ($1.30) with a crisp exterior and chewy insides.
Check out other 24-hour restaurants in Singapore.
Address: 21 Woodlands Close, Level 1, Primz Bizhub Coffeeshop, Singapore 737854
Opening hours: Daily 24 hours
4. Hong Kong Zhai House Of Dim Sum (香港仔点心之家)
Hong Kong Zhai serves fresh, handmade dim sum from $2.50 to $3.50 per serving. Their signature item is sizeable and chewy Beancurd Skin Rolls ($3 for three pieces). Unlike most places, House of Dim Sum steams the rice rolls of their Shrimp Chee Cheong Fun ($1.80) separately from its shrimp stuffing to prevent either from being overcooked. This attention to detail means velvety smooth rice noodle sheets and crunchy shrimp.
5. Xiao Chen Handmade Bao Dian
Xiao Chen Handmade Bao Dian’s $1.90-a-basket dim sum is so affordable, a dim sum feast every other day is not unthinkable. Besides traditional Siew Mai ($1.90 for three pieces), which they stuff with a whole shrimp and Q ground pork, Xiao Chen also has a host of other siew mai such as Crab Meat Dumpling ($1.90 for three pieces), Jade Dumpling ($1.90 for three pieces), and Scallop Dumpling ($1.90 for three pieces).
Address: Blk 68 Kallang Bahru, Singapore 330068
Opening hours: Daily 7am to 8pm, closed on alternate Wednesdays
6. Hong Kong Mongkok Dim Sum
Hong Kong Mongkok Dim Sum’s simple menu of just six handmade items will leave you as satisfied as any large dim sum feast. The skin of their Har Gow ($2.80 for three pieces) is translucently thin yet sturdy enough to hold a rather hefty load of fresh prawn. True to the stall’s name, each Char Siew Bao ($2.80 for three pieces) is made Hong Kong-style with a light and airy bun cracked open to expose the marinated meat filling.
Address: 335 Smith Street, #02-097, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, Singapore 050335
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11am until sold out
7. Neptune Hong Kong Snacks
Neptune Hong Kong Snacks is a traditional dim sum joint – you won’t find trendy liu sha bao here. Savour old favourites such as Steamed Carrot Cake ($2.80), which is full of flavour from its base of shredded white carrot, and deliciously fluffy Char Siew Bun ($3.30 for three pieces). Their Egg Tarts ($3.80 for three pieces) are also worth trying if you like ’em with a thin and flaky crust.
Address: 84 Marine Parade Central, #01-176, Marine Parade Central Market & Food Centre, Singapore 440084
Opening hours: Daily 8:30am to 9:30pm
8. Yi Dian Xin Hong Kong Dim Sum
Expect delicious and affordable dim sum at Yi Dian Xin Hong Kong Dim Sum, where an ex-Tung Lok chef helms the kitchen. Instead of the more common fried carrot cake pieces, Yi Dian Xin serves a cylindrical Steamed Carrot Cake ($2.20) doused in light soy sauce. Other must-order items are their Har Gow ($3.50 for three pieces) with thin and delicate skin, and super flowy Liu Sha Bao ($3.80 for three pieces).
Address: 1012 Upper Serangoon Road, Teo Seng Eating House, Singapore 534752
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 7am to 5pm
Tel: 9168 5587
9. Homemade Pau Specialist
A good-looking bao may come with pristine white skin, but their ugly cousins – the ones with patchy exteriors from juices of the meat stuffing seeping through – are often the tastiest. Most of Homemade Pau Specialist’s Char Siew Bao ($0.60) are ugly ducklings and that means bao skin of the right thickness. Get some of their Siew Mai ($0.60 per piece) too, if you can, as these run out fast.
Address: 34 Cassia Crescent, #01-86, Singapore 390034
Opening hours: Daily 7am to 6pm
Tel: 8115 2747 / 8481 1998
10. Tanjong Rhu Pau & Confectionery
Tanjong Rhu Pau & Confectionery’s buns are mini by average standards but there’s a reason for their loyal following. Ordering Char Siew Pau ($0.70) is a must here. The char siew meat stuffing is chunkier than usual, giving each bite a more satisfying mouthfeel. Big Pork Pau ($1.40) – ironically the size of a regular char siew pau – is another popular one stuffed with lean but succulent pork and hard-boiled egg.
Address: 389 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399788
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am until sold out
Tel: 6842 2112
Full list of outlets
Win some, dim sum
Whether you’re a dim sum purist who sticks to the traditional har gow, char siew bao, and cheong fan, or a trendy yum cha-er seeking the most flowy liu sha bao, there’s a dim sum for everyone. Where’s your favourite joint when you need a fix? Share with us in the comments below.