Photo: Facebook / Dim Sum Haus

To determine if a dim sum establishment is any good, this is the litmus test - tear into the har gao, siew mai, porridge, egg tart and fried beancurd skin rolls. Only then will you get an idea if the place can steam, stew, bake and fry its stuff properly. Not all restaurants get these staples right all the time. In fact, I had not come across a decent - and decently priced - dim sum outlet that is comparable to its Ipoh or Hong Kong counterparts in a long while.

Photo: Makansutra

Till I found Dim Sum Haus at Jalan Besar. That first bite into the har gao ($4.20) delivered a lovely crunch of prawns (treated with cold water rinse, an old-school technique that enhances the texture) with a gummy, unbroken and well-pleated skin. It deserves the hashtag #winalreadylah. Ditto for the siew mai ($3.90), with a prawn atop peeping at me. Both were well-made, not salty and not shaped like a kitchen pile-up accident. I peeked into the kitchen and noticed it was a full and hands-on one.

Photo: Makansutra

The mushroom pau ($4.80), which even looked like a mushroom, had little chunks of stewed black fungus inside. This one sat on a crispy flour net, and the added texture was so likeable.

Photo: Makansutra

Finally, there is the fried mee sua kueh ($3.60), which a nearby competitor is famed for.  The version here is cut up, then fried individually so it is crispy all around and soft inside, unlike the other place's offering. And it has bits of Chinese sausage and dried shrimps inside. Also, I now have a zha leong (fried dough fritters and prawns wrapped with steamed rice rolls, $4.20) that I like in Singapore. Prawns are inserted into the crispy you tiao before being wrapped and steamed (don't ask me how they did this, I was too busy enjoying it).

Photo: Makansutra

Then, a wonderful light snack arrived - the crystal skin mushroom dumpling ($3.90). The skin was soft yet firm, and the fillings were moist and had a good crunch. The off-menu osmanthus jelly ($4.50) was also a delight - lightly sweet and sour, with bits of wolfberry inside. Dim Sum Haus boss Steven Chew said of his Ipoh dim sum master in the kitchen: "If he threatens to leave when we become successful, then I have to up his salary and make him a partner. No choice."

At this rate, the towkay may just have to do that.


This article was first published at The New Paper, 7 September 2017.