a much-lauded chinese restaurant especially known for their molten salted yolk pineapple buns (or liu sha bao, in short), this place is crowded to the rafters on a sunday afternoon – probably at least in part due to the at least average dimsum and pretty decent cooking.
reservations are a defo here – you wait even if you’ve called ahead for a table. they aren’t too concerned with you at the door and when you sit down, service is pretty harried (though efficient after you’ve ordered). make your dimsum orders on the slip of paper, and let the dining begin.
you must get the salted yolk buns, if only just to vindicate yourself on having personally (in)validated the hype. the bubs are soft, the ‘pineapple’ (so named for its crackliness rather than flavor) topping a sweet crusty crust for contrast. that yolk filling is molten, yes, and suffers from none of that separated oiliness that so befalls lesser renditions, but it’s a bit on the sweet side – and together with the sweet crust, makes the bun a tad too cloying and rich. well worth eating once though.
I found most of the dimsum offerings pedestrian, really – though that’s a far step above being completely unworth the calories (such as red star) – nothing wholly offensive or impressive. in general though, I give it points for generous prawn fillings, take some away for overly-thick dumpling skins,
return a couple for interesting items like this char siu bao with bun colored by ink of squid (an aesthetic move rather than a gastronomic one, alas) that had a delicious char siu filling more interesting than its carb exterior,
and then remove a couple more for rather tedious and disappointing dishes like the XO-sauteed (as in that slightly spicy sauce of dried seafood, rather than hugs and kisses) steamed rice roll and XO-sauteed carrot cake cubes. they look exactly alike eh, with similar taste (and similarly meh flavours) – essentially the same dish differed only by manner of carb.
but I’m pleased to tell you their cooked dishes show more than gratifying cooking prowess. it shows skill you wouldn’t have imagined with the dimsum, and more than explains the full occupancy of the place.
take this spinach in broth with goji berries: very clear and refreshing and subtly-flavored.
we had a little less luck with these pork trotters (have I told you of my recent obsession?) but it might have been a problem of expectation. I was looking forward to a savory, dark stew of pork trotter; and what came was a very sweet, very vinegary, literally black dish of trotter with very little meat. alot more skin, if you’re into it – but make sure you’re into this style of preparation too (I definitely am not).
but that was a minor hiccup – and arguably my fault – soon blown away by the sheer majesty of their sakura chicken dish: a crisp, thin-and-brown-skinned chicken full of tender meat and well-seasoned chickeny flavor – delicious, and immensely eatable.
very, very delicious.
I think you’d do well to come for a proper meal – I’m talking dishes with rice and that sort of thing – rather than dimsum, though that liushabao does deserve a little attention (even if not so much its oft-acclaimed position at the top of ‘best liushabao’ lists).
reasonably priced, service you expect in an old-school chinese restaurant, and good cooking – it’s old-school chinese eating. the furnishings are a little old and gaudy, and has clearly suffered from the surfeit of people coming through at mealtimes – but don’t expect posh and
you won’t get it you’d be happy.
22 Cross Street
#01-61 China Square Central
tel +65 6438 5798
$$: 20-30 per person
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