Any dim sum restaurant (especially one that calls itself "Yum Cha"!) which is smack in the centre of Singapore's touristy Chinatown has to be suspect - which was probably why it took me so long before i finally stepped into this place for "yum cha" today - I was showing visiting friends from Australia around town, especially Chinatown as it gears up towards the Chinese Lunar New Year (23-24 Jan 2012).
Surprisingly, the standard of dim sum at Yum Cha was pretty decent! "Har-gau" (蝦餃) and "siu-mai" (燒賣) dumplings were served a la minute and the prawns were fresh & crunchy. Interesting to note that each basket came with 3 dumplings (instead of 4) which seemed to be de rigeur in many Singaporean and Malaysian dim sum restaurants these days!
Yum Cha's "cha-siu bao" (叉燒包) had lovely caramelly barbecued pork and nice fluffy skin - not as good as Imperial Treasure at Paragon's (but that's the best in Singapore) - but still very good on its own merit. Ditto their "cha-siu sou" (叉燒酥) which had crispy glazed pastry skin & similar sweet-barbecued pork filling.
"Cheung fun" (腸粉) - we ordered the shrimp-filled variety) was a tad thicker than we'd have liked.
"Fu pei kuen" (腐皮捲)or tofu-skin rolls were unpleasantly oily, and not to my taste, but my friends seemed to enjoy them.
"Wu kok" (芋角) or deep-fried taro dumplings were similarly greasy, though they contained pretty tasty meat filling.
"Fung chao" (鳳爪) were extraordinarily spicy - sending my Antipodean friends reeling, needing copious cups of jasmine tea to douse the heat from the tiny red chillies used to cook with the chicken feet.
"Lo mai kai" (糯米雞) were pretty average in taste, and actually smaller than those served in other restaurants around town.
There was another dish - a set of 4 steamed dumplings which looked deceptively harmless, but were also explosively hot from the chilli oil dressing. This place *definitely* set its sights on local Singaporean diners with a penchant for ultra-spicy food!
Good place for a rest & a quick dim sum meal only if you happen to be in Chinatown or showing foreign guests around that touristy part of town, but not good enough as a "yum cha" destination on its own, really.
Yum Cha Restaurant (饮茶酒楼)
20 Trengganu Street #02-01
Tel: +65 6372 1717
Opening hours: 11am - 11pm