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Dim sum is a type of Chinese cuisine (Cantonese) which is prepared in small, bite-sized portions and usually served on small plates or steamer baskets.
I often like to call them “Chinese tapas” when introducing the idea of eating dim sum to foreign friends. In Singapore, you can find dim sum served in many places, from hotel restaurants, casual Chinese chain restaurants to hawker stalls.
While the quality, type and price can differ by a huge margin, there's no place for bad quality dim sum since you require the freshest ingredients to prepare them.
In the spirit of Chinese New Year, we at GET.com say give the traditional steamboat dinner a break and have some yummy and pocket-friendly dim sum under $50 per pax instead!
Here are GET.com's Top 10 Dim Sum Restaurants that cost less than $50++ per person in Singapore:
1. Swee Choon Tim-Sum Restaurant
Swee Choon is a pretty hidden gem, unless you are a dim sum fanatic, you might not have heard of it.
This well-established restaurant has been around for almost 50 years and it's located near Little India.
There's plenty of space available but it can still get pretty crowded due to its good variety of Hong Kong and Shanghai dim sum and cuisine available.
What's to love: Prompt service, huge menu (not just dim sum) and it's open late (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.).
What to try: Crispy fried fish skin, fried mee suah and egg crepe with meat floss.
The fried mee suah is a signature item from Swee Choon and I haven't seen it elsewhere. I would say it's a novelty, but in terms of taste, it's pretty bland.
The crispy fried fish skin is a joy to munch on and great as a starter, nothing too oily and fishy there. Definitely give the egg crepe with meat floss a try as it is fragrant and has a nice chewy bite and a well-balanced taste.
Address: 183-191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882
2. Victor's Kitchen
If you are on the look out for the best Liu Sha Bao, this is it! Victor's kitchen ranks as my top dim sum place to eat the salted egg yolk custard bun – luscious creamy egg yolk flowing out of soft white buns, this sends me to dim sum heaven each time.
For the egg-custard bun experts out there, if you prefer custard that's on the sweeter side, this might not be for you.
The reason I like it here is because the creamy yolk custard tends to be on the savoury side, plus the buns are a good size to satisfy.
Someone looking for variety might be disappointed here though, as Victor's kitchen focuses on just a few dishes, but ensures they are top quality.
Regulars will be glad to know that they've opened a second outlet at a more convenient location at Chinatown point!
What's to love: Everything on the menu is good and service is prompt. Food is relatively cheap as well.
What to try: Golden egg yolk lava buns or Liu Sha Bao (order two baskets straightaway pls!), queen-sized siew mai, steamed carrot cake with XO sauce and the crispy golden shrimp rolls.
Sunshine Plaza Branch: 91 Bencoolen Street Sunshine Plaza, #01-49
Chinatown Branch: Chinatown Point B1-33, 133 New Bridge Road Singapore 059413
3. Tim Ho Wan
We all remember how Tim Ho Wan caused such a stir when they first opened an outlet in Singapore at Plaza Singapura.
I remember walking past two months after its debut and there were still snaking queues over the weekend!
Good thing that now, the well-known one Michelin star dim sum restaurant has 6 outlets in Singapore, and even if you have to queue, it'll probably take you less than half an hour.
I remember having my first taste of Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, and well, I would say the menu has some hits-and-misses, but its affordable pricing and fresh ingredients still make a decent dim sum meal.
What's to love: Well, it's still got one Michelin star, baby!
What to try: Signature baked BBQ pork buns, pan-fried turnip cake and vermicelli roll with pig’s liver.
68 Orchard Road #01-29A, Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839
450 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh Hersing Centre #02-02, Toa Payoh, Singapore 319394
311 New Upper Changi Road #B1-51/52, Bedok Mall, Singapore 467360
3 Gateway Drive #01-13/14, Westgate, Jurong East, Singapore 608532
12 Kallang Avenue, #01-01/02/03 Aperia, Singapore 339511
One Raffles Link, #B1-63/63A, Citylink Mall, Singapore 039393
4. Mouth Restaurant
Mouth Restaurant is a family-friendly Chinese restaurant serving traditional Cantonese dishes and dim sum. It's a budget-friendly chain Chinese restaurant which serves up great dim sum as well.
During Chinese New Year, you can also look out for some special items – last CNY I tried a squid ink rice roll, pretty funky right?
You can't really taste much of the squid ink but the use of the traditional sweet sauce was light and the pork floss gave it a nice touch.
The fried beancurd roll with prawn is pretty good as well, with fresh succulent prawns and a crust that's very different from the usual beancurd roll. This one is a little bit thicker and more crispy than the usual thin beancurd skin used.
What's to love: Fresh ingredients, innovative menu.
What to try: Egg lava buns, siew mai and fried beancurd roll with shrimp.
22 Cross Street, #01-61 China Square Central, South Bridge Court Shop House, Singapore 048421
6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-200, Marina Square, Singapore 039594
5. Jade Restaurant
At $39++ for its weekend a la carte dim sum buffet, Fullerton's Jade Restaurant is one of those places where you can consider having weekend brunch with value-for-money dim sum in a classy hotel setting.
With a gourmet touch to your usual dim sum, the price you pay is definitely worth it!
Look out for exquisite dim sum items such as steamed pork siew mai with abalone, deep fried taro paste wrapped with truffle and mushroom, poached enoki mushroom squid ink dumpling and golden “mantou” stuffed with a chilli crab meat bun.
What's to love: Humble dim sum using gourmet ingredients.
What to try: Golden “mantou” stuffed with chilli crab meat bun, braised bird nest with truffle egg white in superior broth, sautéed pork ribs with coffee sauce.
Address: 1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178
6. Bosses Restaurant
Looking for a good dim sum place with a classy setting? There are many of these dim sum restaurants, but a prettier interior also means a higher price for their dishes.
Although, if you go to Bosses Restaurant from Monday-Saturday during the off-peak hours of 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to have your dim sum, you get to shave 30% off your bill! Which means that you get to enjoy really great dim sum at a superb price in a nice restaurant, what's not to love?
The restaurant has a pretty innovative dim sum menu and you can find them often coming up with new dim sum creations that never fail to delight and surprise.
What's to love: Portions are huge, and the innovative menu is a great way to have your dim sum with a twist.
What to try: Xiao long bao, egg custard lava bun, siew mai and chilli crab tart.
1 Harbourfront Walk, #02-156/157 VivoCity
7. Yum Cha Restaurant
Yum Cha, which literally means drink tea in Cantonese, was what dim sum used to be – enjoying small bite-sized food with tea.
The dim sum buffet of Yum Cha Chinatown is pretty famous due to its pocket-friendly prices - $23.80++ from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
The restaurant is also good for Chinese food and its centralised location makes it great for a CNY dinner outing as well.
What's to love: Affordable dim sum buffet price.
What to try: Rainbow seafood dumpling, baked mini egg-tarts, shredded prawn congee and sea treasure dumpling.
20 Trengganu St, #02-01 Chinatown, Singapore 058479
Yum Cha Garden at 22 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557271
6 Changi Business Park Ave, 1 #01-33 UE Bizhub EAST, Singapore 486017
8. Swatow Seafood
If you prefer somewhere further away from the crowd, you can consider having your high tea dim sum buffet at Swatow Seafood restaurant in Toa Payoh.
Swatow Restaurant has been around since 2010 and their focus has been on Teochew cuisine, traditionally known for its freshness and healthy tasting dishes that are light in flavour and seasoning.
It is thus a natural transition for Swatow to go into Hong Kong-style dim sum, since the latter follows the same principles of steamed food with an emphasis on fresh ingredients.
The dim sum buffet is served from 3 to 5 p.m. daily on push cart and costs just $19.80++ on weekdays and $22.80 on weekends and public holidays.
What's to love: Pocket-friendly dim sum buffet price in the heartlands.
What to try: Crispy durian and shrimp roll, mini pork bun with crab meat and boat-styled congee in claypot.
Blk 181 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh #02-602, Singapore 310181
9. Bao Today
One of the latest to join in the dim sum buffet frenzy is Bao Today at Rendezvous Hotel! Late last year, the casual diner introduced its latest promotion – tapas dim sum buffet with 2 seatings each night (6 to 8 p.m.) and (8 to 10 p.m.).
The diner has been a favourite casual dim sum place I visited frequently, especially for its signature black sesame bao and sesame skin chicken bao.
What's to love: Its newly-launched dim sum buffet.
What to try: Pandan liu sha bao, teochew braised pork bun, sliced abalone and the fresh fruit scallop salad tart.
9 Bras Basah #01-02, Hotel Rendezvous, Singapore 189559
10. Clifford Pier Dim Sum Brunch
Have you already been to Clifford Pier? The place is absolutely gorgeous and they've launched a dim sum brunch menu last year! If you want to enjoy a bit of luxury without paying close to $80 for dim sum, here's the place to be!
Well, I know that technically the buffet is priced at $48++ and will end up costing a bit more than $50, still, it's a well-worth amount to pay for such an opulent setting and for the huge spread of great quality food!
The Heritage Dim Sum Brunch takes place on weekends and public holidays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The concept of the brunch is to recreate scenes of the past with the nostalgia of old tea houses set with traditional dim sum trolleys and hawker stalls.
So although it calls itself a dim sum brunch, you can expect lots of other food as well, including live buffet stations with Singaporean "heritage" food such as satay, rojak, laksa, rickshaw noodles and Hainanese chicken rice.
From the dim sum trolleys, expect good old favourites such as steamed pork ribs in fermented black bean sauce, glutinous rice in lotus leafs, crystal shrimp dumplings and shrimp and pork beancurd rolls.
Those with a sweet tooth will be happy with the decent dessert spread. You can enjoy some refreshing cut fruit on ice, mango pudding shooters, ang ku kueh, or the Fullerton cheese cake!
What's to love: The luxurious colonial setting and a wide variety of food that's more than just dim sum.
What to try: Chilli crab with mantou, fried prawn dumplings, kueh lapis and the har gow.
Address: Fullerton Bay Hotel, 80 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049326
This article was originally on GET.com at: 10 Best Dim Sum Restaurants In Singapore That Cost Less Than $50 Per Pax