Where To Have Yummy Dim Sum That Won’t Make You Go Broke
Dim sum favourites like bite-size har gow, smooth slippery chee cheong fun stuffed with meaty char siew, and sweet-savoury prawn banana rolls are notoriously easy to eat. And also over-order (see how enthusiastic/boorish you can get when you spot a dim sum trolley with your personal faves coming your way). This is why you’ll appreciate these mostly old-school eateries that let you have your fill – without the high-end restaurant prices.
1. Swee Choon
Besides the fact that this stalwart has been in the business since the 1960s, how do you know that it is a popular haunt for dim sum?
First, every taxi and Grab driver whose vehicle we hopped into knew where we were headed once we said Swee Choon (don’t even bother telling them the actual address).
Second, even though Swee Choon now occupies five shophouse units, you still have to wait for a table if you don’t come early enough. By that, we mean just before noon or on the dot at 6pm before hungry hordes of young people from the nearby arts schools flock here.
And despite the constant full house situation, the staff here are strangely calm, friendly and efficient.
Why so popular? Because most of the items on the dim sum menu (they also serve zi char-style dishes and assorted noodle bowls) cost an average of $3.50 or less – prices that resonate well with anyone, broke arts school student or not.
Be sure to earn Instagram bragging rights by ordering the more unusual items like the eponymous Swee Choon Mee Suah Kueh (it’s an oddity of steamed mee suah wrapped with more mee suah and tastes better than it sounds), Layer Pancake with Egg & Pork Floss, and beancurd chicken roll. Leave room in your belly for the chilled coconut pudding which comes in a real coconut. The pudding is like the smoothest beancurd that will ever slip down your throat but with a refreshing coconut taste.
Swee Choon, 183/185/187/189/191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882
Find out more here
2. Victor’s Kitchen
To be honest, we were a little apprehensive about a dim sum eatery with a Western-sounding name that doesn’t have delicious, auspicious-sounding Chinese characters in it (you know, like Rong or Ji).
But anyone working or studying in the nearby area will have you know that this is a hidden gem. Their mantra here may just be “go big or go home”, especially when it comes to Victor’s King Prawn Dumpling and Tasty Queen-sized Siew Mai. In case the names aren’t obvious enough, these are upsized versions of the humble har gow and siew mai, packed generously with juicy prawns and moist tender meat.
The folks here have also upped the game with their iced milk tea which comes without ice. Instead, it is kept cold by sitting in a bowl packed to the brim with ice cubes. The reason? So that your milk tea doesn’t get all diluted by the time you’ve wolfed down your 10th siew mai. Talk about dedication.
Don’t expect a chi-chi first date setting though. Diners sit at long tables, eat quickly and move on with life.
Victor’s Kitchen, 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-49 Sunshine Plaza, Singapore 189652
Find out more here
3. Swatow Seafood
If you like beckoning to harried aunties pushing their dim sum trolleys and asking them eagerly what’s in their steamers, come here on weekends because on weekdays, the restaurant serves dim sum from a menu (yawn).
While prices here are not as low as what you may pay at shophouse eateries or kopi tiam stalls, you get to dine in a restaurant setting, albeit a really old-school one.
You have to order certain dishes from the “main” menu though, such as the moreish X.O. sauce fried carrot cake. And if you’re still hungry, holler for the hard-to-find Teochew creations like crispy oyster omelette and crispy pork liver roll.
Swatow Seafood, Block 181 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #02-602, Singapore 310181
Find out more here
4. Mongkok Dim Sum
This 24-hour kopi tiam-style eatery will satisfy your craving any hour of the day. And when it hits, you can tuck into century egg porridge, spinach dumplings, yam pastry and even xiao long bao. Just what the hangover manuals prescribed.
Mong Kok Dim Sum, 214 Geylang Road, Singapore 389274
5. Ho Kee Pau
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is a chain which has many takeaway counters at shopping malls in Singapore. The outlet at Geylang (within walking distance from Aljunied MRT station) is a dine-in eatery with old-school kopi tiam chairs and tables. You’ll find almost the same items here that are sold at the brand’s takeaway counters – think bad-for-your-breath chive dumplings and fried beancurd rolls – but also dishes more suited for dining in, like wanton noodles and lotus rice.
Ho Kee Pau, 43 Lorong 27 Geylang, Singapore 388176
Need more options for dim sum? Check out our ultimate guide to halal Chinese food places here!