August 19, 2017

Jia Jia Tang Bao, Shanghai…spurter of broth and burner of mouths

This steamed, soup-filled xioalongbao is, perhaps, the dumpling world’s favourite son.

Jia Jia Tang Bao is the place to go if you’re into this Shanghai speciality, otherwise known as a soup dumpling… a basket of steamed bite-size pouches of goodness usually filled with pork and broth. This is a true blue cramped hole-in-the-wall and you get a down-to-earth local experience. Sharing tables with strangers is the norm here, as chairs are precious.

Freshly made every day, what the they may lack in elegance, they more than make up for in flavor, the thinness of the skin and the quality of the soup inside. Expect a thinner-than-average skin and a pronounced porky filling boasting a hint of sweetness. Be careful — you need to put them in your mouth whole if you don’t want the soup to spill everywhere.

An insider’s tip? Just be careful to let them cool sufficiently before attempting to eat them, whole, or your next stop could be Shanghai International Hospital A & E. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

jiajia sha3

February 13, 2017

Shang hai la mian Xiao long bao, Singapore…pan fried dumplings are like xiao long bao on steroids

If xiao long bao are the Rolls Royce of the dumpling world, the Toyota must be the pan fried dumplings here in Alexandra Village Food Centre. They’re usually the reason for massive queues.

Sporting a thicker, chewier wheat dough, these little vibrant bullets of pleasure with their generous filling of succulent pork, come with a healthy slick of grease from their crispy, irresistible bottoms. The filling LITERALLY explodes with pork juices, but the sturdier wrapper holds up to some serious pan-frying. Best appreciated with chilli and vinegar, they’re cheap and by default, cheerful.

Dig into these babies as soon as they arrive — it’ll be well worth the scorched tongue.This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


December 6, 2015

Lot 10 Hutong Food Gallery, The Shore, Melaka…my most expensive food court meal of the year

Lot 10 Hutong Food Gallery is a food court which comprises different well-known food stalls. This Melaka outpost of the famed Kuala Lumpur eatery is a major dud. The prices are unconscionable. They are ludicrous, a poke in the eye from a chopstick dipped in salty Korean chilli sauce.

Here’s the chronicles of a lunch gone very wrong. The “thick and bland” Xiao long bao and har kow which flavour is akin to that of an overcooked McDonald’s chicken nuggets. The cost of the micro-mini siew mai, har kow and Xiao long bao is RM25. Meanwhile the very sour glass of RM10.50 apple juice would be a find…in a vending machine. This very expensive glass of apple juice has the honour of being the worst thing I have put in my mouth since the incident with the washing liquid when I was seven.

This food court is only affordable if you wear underwear lined in baby panda fur on a daily basis. Ultimately, this place is just “terribly, terribly sad”, “wallet-lightening” and a new kill-me-now low. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

lot 10 hutong melaka 1

April 25, 2015

Happy Fortune Chinese Restaurant, New York City…a decent hole in the wall Chinese place

I’ve never tried Chinese food in New York…..until now. The entrance is a bit dingy with poster board notices and doesn’t look very inviting at all but this is a decent hole in the wall Chinese place.

Looking around, I guess hot pot must be a big deal here but we ordered dishes from the ala carte menu. The steamed pork juicy buns (8) siow long bao have plenty of flavourful soup inside and has a soft skin wrapping it. Some places have a thicker skin but this is not the case here. The roast duck with hand pulled noodle was pretty good but the roast duck, which was served in the bowl of noodle soup was soggy. Despite its name the pached seafood (fish, shrimp, squid) in chillli broth was not spicy at all. They gave a generous slick of chilli oil instead of adding chili into the broth. The interestingly named mixed seafood on fried rice turned out to be sweet and sour sauce on one half of the fried rice and hor fun gravy on the other. Gravy is more than just a condiment; it’s liquid comfort and this is in interesting dish.

The kitchen does gets things wrong, but when it’s on song – the food is fairly delicious.  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

chinese ny

May 12, 2013

Din Tai Fung, Taipei…service was very Disney-good and the xiaolongbao was like a party in my mouth.

This is one of the most well-known exports of Taiwan… the famous dumpling empire which serves delicious steamed dumplings aka xiaolongbao (literally translated to “little dragon buns”). During the past 20 years the restaurant has become so famous and they have a lot of branches in many countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, USA and Australia. The one I went to in Taipei was the Taipei 101 store where I got to rub shoulders with dumpling pilgrims from at least 10 countries. What’s not to like?

Despite the immense number of customers, Din Tai Fung’s service is fast and very Disney-good, and its food lives up to its fame. The xiaolongbao was special in that it tasted hot and aromatically fresh with the `juices’ inside flowing out to the tongue as we took a bite. It’s best to gently pick up so the very delicate skin of the dumpling is not broken causing  the `juices’ to drain out. The taste? It’s like a party in my mouth. It’s unbelievable!

Queues are sometimes part and parcel of a good dining experience. Here, they tell you roughly how long the wait is. Clearly the patient crowd doesn’t begrudge the wait. Not enough to walk away, anyway. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


October 16, 2011

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant, Singapore…for that late night/early morning dim sum craving

Open overnight from 6pm to 10am, Swee Choon Tim Sum serves up pretty decent Hong Kong and Shanghai dim sum at reasonable prices.

There’s even a chef to knead la-mian on show. Their pork chop la mian is plain la mian in a clear and light-tasting broth with the fried pork chop served on a separate plate. The pork chop is rather tender. The juicy pork dumpling or Xiao Long Bao which is decent as well – the skin is very thin, the soup is quite tasty.

TO TRY: Deep fried shrimp paste chicken wings. It is surprisingly delicious.

The air-conditioned interior is kept clean and simple. Service was very friendly, efficient and attentive and the food came very quickly.

P.S. I love their chee cheong fun…it’s awesome. This is still the true truth as I still say it as it is…

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