PEr FYI

May 18, 2019

Tsui Wah, Singapore…covers all the bases

This iconic cha chaan teng (tea café) from Hong Kong that had humble beginnings as a bing sutt (ice cafe) at Mongkok in 1967 has landed in Singapore.

The taste combination of the signature sweet condensed milk and the fragrant crispy bun was fantastic, but the weak crispiness was a bit of a let down. King prawns with XO sauce in tossed noodles is the one to go for here. The noodles were springy and the prawns were super-fresh. Wantons with shrimp roe in fish soup is also a favourite. Within the simple delicious broth, the wantons – fat, plump, and bursting with shrimp – are a winner.

What to avoid: Seafood curry with steamed rice & stir-fried instant noodles with pork chop and assorted vegetables on sizzling plate. Unless you really need to satisfy the sudden urge for curry, there are much better places to go that won’t leave you full of regret. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 13, 2019

Tsui Wah, Shenzhen…failed to impress me

Tsui Wah is the Shenzhen outpost of a revered restaurant of the same name in Hong Kong. Let’s cut to the chase: this is the place if you want to visit a giant, super-sized neon version of Hong Kong’s humble coffee shop cafes (called a cha chaan teng, literally a tea food hall).

The dishes are pure Hong Kong comfort food, an eclectic and inexpensive assortment of Cantonese, Asian, and Western fare prepared for the Chinese palate. Start your meal with a local favorite—milk tea—followed, perhaps Lamb Chop Curry, King Prawns in XO Sauce with Tossed Noodles and wonton with fish roe in fish soup. And you’ll be missing out if you don’t try the famous crispy bun topped with sweet condensed milk.

Although there wasn’t much wrong, it failed to impress me. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 4, 2017

Tai Cheong Café, Singapore…the Marmite effect: some rave about it, some feel its meh

There are more exciting Chinese cuisines out there these days, but sometimes all you want is a good old-fashioned Hong Kong feed. That’s when you head to Tai Cheong Café. Tucked away in Holland Village, Tai Cheong Cafe is really a cha chaan teng.

Their three coloured silky egg rice are the ones to go for here, with plenty of egg to temper the rich flavours and their egg tarts also always hit the spot. I come here only for this. The others on the menu isn’t as good.

I can’t say Tai Cheong Cafe gets everything right, or that it’s a Hong Kong diner destination, but I’ll stand behind this humble—and quite cheap eatery. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 26, 2011

Hing Fat Restaurant, Hong Kong…I get hungry just thinking about this “cha chaan teng” (Chinese tea diner)

Dining in a Cha Chaan Teng is listed as one Time.com’s top 10 things to do in Hong Kong. I have returned to this this simple no-nonsense Cha Chaan Teng often. Food arrives fresh and warm. I am served well and ably within a reasonable amount of time.

Its mouthwatering menu of Chinese cuisine serves classic favorites such as Char leong (yau char kuey in chee cheong fun skin), Cheong Fun (steamed rice roll with shrimp), Siew Mai and steam turnip cake. You’ve probably figured out by now that this place is not serving up fine cuisine but comfort food, but nevertheless, I get hungry just thinking about those dishes.

You can’t consider yourself to have experienced Hong Kong until you step into a such a Cha Chaan Teng and experienced the ambience and buzz in the eatery – the brusque service, the fast-in-fast-out turnover of the place, and the noisy atmosphere and general busy-ness of the place. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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