I’m on a mission to try out as many dim sum restaurants as I can, to decide for myself once and for all where serves the best dim sum – or at least specific dim sum dishes – in Singapore. I started off by writing a list of the places I wanted to visit, which by the way surmounted to an astonishing 30 restaurants, and the first on the list was Yan Ting.
Located on level 1U of St Regis Hotel, Yan Ting’s decor screams grace and luxury. Big chairs for you to sit into and minimalistic chandeliers that lends to the elegance of the meal. I don’t understand the “1U” though. Why not just call it 2?
I believe choice of dinnerware tells a lot about the character of the restaurant. Unlike Taste Paradise’s metal teapot (which I will blog about soon) Yan Ting’s glass teapot looks both elegant and classical. That was the essence of their dim sum.
Simple peanuts to start off the meal
Pork & Century Egg Congee ($9++)
Priced extremely high for such a small portion, it was a joy to find slices of abalone and many big wedges of century eggs. This was light, not the kind of Crystal Jade milky congees, but more of a porridge which made it really pleasant and light on the palate. This is by far one of the best porridge we’ve had at dim sums. It would be perfect if it were served hot and with more shredded pork.
Daily Boiled Soup – Old Cucumber Soup ($12++ a bowl)
The clear broth was naturally sweet from all the great ingredients used, and not overly salty. Though extremely delicious and healthy, I wonder why there was a crunchy white fungus, a carrot and some lean pork, but none of that old cucumber?
Crispy Beancurd Roulette with Shrimp & Seafood ($6.80++)
It’s really cute how this looks more like seaweed chicken than the fu pi juan we usually have. Stuffed generously with crunchy prawns, these crisp bites were decent, but nothing more.
Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumplings with Crab Roe ‘Siew Mai’ ($6.80++)
One of the staples of dim sum, Yan Ting’s siew mai was pretty good but not the best we’ve tried. Brownie points to how it was not too salty, used rather lean pork, and thus lent it more bite and “kou gan” (= mouth feeling? LOL.) My family didn’t like how the siew mai was a little flimsy, like those oversteamed ones you get at clubhouses’ in-house cafes, and not firm enough.
Steamed Crystal Shrimp Dumplings ‘Har Kao’ ($6.80++)
Yet another staple, the har kao won hands down. Wonderfully huge, sweet and crunchy prawns were encased within the thinnest and softest crystal skin. I was impressed at how the skin remained thin, soft and firm even when the dish was no longer hot. Juxtaposed against yesterday’s har kao at Victor’s Kitchen, I’d have to say I’m mighty delighted with Yan Ting’s. It is by far the best I’ve had, hand-in-hand with Taste Paradise’s.
Steamed Teochew Style Dumplings with Pork & Peanuts ($5++)
Not every restaurant offers this classic, but what Yan Ting offers it does it well. There were big chunks of crunchy peanuts and water chestnuts wrapped within the thin crystal skin, giving the dish an extra bite.
Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings with Mixed Mushrooms ($5++)
Among all the steamed dumplings this was my favourite. I expected a simple mushroom and chives dumpling, but it was so much more. Vegetables like carrots and celery gave the dumplings a wonderful crunch, contrasting beautifully against the soft and fragrant mushrooms. What surprised me was the one slice of Chinese pickled green chili in the heart of the dumpling that gave it a sudden light sourness. A wonderfully constructed dumpling of varying textures and flavours!
Xiao Long Bao ($4++ for 1)
In the words of another blogger, go Din Tai Fung instead. This is an example where prices are not commensurate with quality.
Fluffy Steamed Barbequed Pork Bun ‘Char Siew Bao’ ($5++)
“Fluffy” is the right adjective for these buns. It is only a mark lower than Royal China’s who has leaner char siew and the best char siew bao in my opinion.
Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Bun ($5.80++)
Yan Ting’s custard buns belong to the sweeter category. The custard was hot, smooth and just the right amount of sweetness. The downside was it was slightly oily. I prefer the slightly salty custard buns though so Yan Ting’s didn’t impress me much. Moreover it was really small, so much that you could finish it in a bite. At $2 a bun, it is slightly too pricey and probably not worth the money.
Oven-baked Barbequed Pork ‘Char Siew’ Pastry ($6++)
This is hands down the best char siew sou I’ve ever tasted. While Royal China uses a more shortcrust kind of pastry, Yan Ting’s pastry was extremely flaky, and managed to exude a strong buttery fragrance without being excessively oily. Thumbs up to the char siew that was also quite lean.
Steamed ‘Cheong Fun’ Rice Roll with Scallops ($10++)
What makes this rice roll different from its counterparts is the wonderful soy sauce it was served with. Slightly sweet, it complemented the fresh and natural sweetness of the scallops.
Mini Egg Tarts ($6++)
With just the correct proportion of pastry to custard, this is one of the better egg tarts I’ve had in dim sum restaurants. They’re not joking when they say “mini” though. Nice, but these are definitely not worth the cost of $2 each.
Steamed Sponge Cake with Egg Custard ($6++)
I was expecting a steamed version of the custard bun, so I was a little disappointed when they turned out different. They arrived super mini-sized. Join the tips of your index finger and thumb, and that’s slightly bigger than these cakes. Moist and slightly sweet, they resembled a softer and moister ji dan gao. My mum liked them cause they were quite a nice mini cake to eat, however it wasn’t anything special enough to warrant the price tag.
Crispy Sesame Ball filled with Malt Balls Chocolate ($6++)
My sister commented that these tasted like hot mochis. Novel and delicious, these are something worth trying.
Crispy Pork Belly ($20++ for 8 cubes)
Yan Ting’s shao rou definitely deserve a special shoutout. The meat was tender, lean, and perfectly seasoned, with most of the saltiness coming from the crisp skin. Absolutely wonderful.
Seafood Hor Fun ($28++ for the small portion)
This is the only other dark sauced seafood hor fun I’ve seen besides the one served at Ka-Soh! The wok hei taste was distinct, and they were really generous with the seafood. I’m not a hor fun fan, but I definitely liked Yan Ting’s.
Salted Egg Prawns ($40++ for 6 pieces)
Another unexpectedly good dish, Yan Ting’s salted egg prawns are served atop some egg whites and a filo pastry cup. The prawns had just enough salted egg yolks on them, and the strong flavours were lightened up with the egg whites and filo pastry. A wonderful and innovative dish in all.
There were hits and misses in the entire meal, but on the whole the teapot deduction proved true. Yan Ting dishes out great dim sum classics, and managed to have some lovely innovative dishes too. However the portions tend to be smaller and slightly steeper. Oh and I feel the need to mention that they charged us for every pot of tea they refilled, without our knowledge, which I felt was quite unreasonable especially at a price of $4 a pot. If you do visit Yan Ting for dim sum, do stick to the classics.
29 Tanglin Road
Level 1U The St. Regis Singapore
Opens daily for lunch (12pm-2.30pm) and dinner (6.30pm-10.30pm)
Weekend & PH dimsum brunch: 10.30am-12.30pm; 1pm-3pm