Magical dim sum minus the queue
Anytime is dim sum time. Those bite-sized pieces of heaven are enough to send any dim sum addict into a frenzy. Thin, delicate skin wrapped around tasty seafood or meat and steamed to perfection - I can already smell the dim sum, just by thinking about it.
In fact, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like dim sum. What’s there not to like? Sweet, sour, tender, firm - dim sum has it all.
With everyone’s common love for dim sum, it’s a real struggle to find a good dim sum place with a queue that is not ridiculously long. You’d think the lunch crowd would have died at 3pm, but no - you forgot the tea crowd. Then the dinner crowd, then the supper crowd then the after midnight snack crowd for our oh-so-famous Swee Choon.
We have sussed out 10 less discovered, humble hawker stalls serving delicious and affordable dim sum in a no frills setting. Good news is, you won’t have to wait as long to get your hands on their dim sum!
1. Lai Kee
Many who know about Lai Kee stumbled upon it accidentally - just like how people find love when they aren’t searching for it. Expanding through word-of-mouth, Lai Kee has 4 outlets sharing their glorious dim sum with neighbourhood folks.
Faced with endless number of dim sum options, start off with the Siew Mai and Har Gow, both priced at around $2 for a tray. Well seasoned and fresh, they’d prepare your stomach well for the paus - Big Pau ($1.60) and Kong Bak Pau ($1.30). These paus seem fluffier and lighter than regular ones. Grab a quick meal at this stall with their Century Egg Congee ($2) - where else can you find such a deal?
And of course, one does not simply leave any dim sum place without trying their Liu Sha Bao ($3.50). The salted egg-yolk custard plays a major role in any dim sum feast. Having good liu sha bao will warrant an encore - a return visit for more of the delicious dim sum.
Thankfully, the ones here ended the performance with a bang. Filled generously with molten golden lava, it was truly a gem in this hawker centre.
Address: #01-118, Blk 207 Bukit Batok St 21, #1-243, Blk 143 Teck Why Lane, #01-K1, Blk 107 Clementi St 12
Opening Hours: Around 630 am - 930 pm daily
2. Shanghai La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Another perk of living in Queenstown - I’m a stone’s throw away from this dim sum treasure trove. Obvious from the shop name, they pride themselves in making quality xiao long baos and la mian. Get ready to be blown away by the insanely affordable price - going at $4.50 for 7 pieces of Xiao Long Bao, this is really a steal not to be missed.
The fact that lazy me would walk across the street just for their xiao long bao says something. Without hesitation, I would say that these little dumplings from my neighbourhood can match up to those served in Canton Paradise or Paradise Dynasty. The thin layer of skin holds the soup and meat together perfectly, and the savoury explosion in your mouth is addictive. You won’t be able to stop yourself from reaching out with your chopsticks to grab another xiao long bao.
Try their Pan Fried Dumplings ($5 for 10) while you’re at it too, you can have it fried or steamed. Texture wise, the dumplings differs greatly from the xiao long baos. These dumplings are chewier with a thicker skin, and crispy at the bottom, and they are extremely generous with the meat as well.
Although this stall doesn’t offer the wide range of dim sum you can get at other places, their xiao long baos are worth the trip.
Address: #01-56 Alexandra Village Food Centre, Blk 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1, 150120
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 1130 - 830pm
3. Neptune Hong Kong Dim Sum
Don’t be fooled by its plain exterior in a humble hawker environment. This dim sum stall is helmed by an experienced Hong Kong chef, Mr Fung, ensuring that folks of the neighbourhood get a taste of his hometown delicacies.
Neptune Dim Sum offers a variety of dim sum dishes ranging from $2-$3 for a tray of three. Be treated to authentic Hong Kong dishes in this no-frills setting, and be assured that you’re paying for quality dim sum.
Layers of Har Cheong Fun stacked on top of one another looks extremely appetising, especially with the pieces of prawns hidden between the rice sheets. Affordable and tasty, this is a dish that would make me go back for more.
Before leaving, make sure you try their Lobster Puffs ($4 for 5 pieces) too. They sell out fast so grab some while you can!
Address: 84 Marine Parade Central, #01-176 Marine Parade Hawker Centre, 440084
Contact: 9005 4894
4. Yi Dian Xin
Those who have the sudden urge to relive their childhood memories will love it here at Yi Dian Xin. It seems like another ordinary coffee shop stall from the outside, but its dim sum treats are more than ordinary.
You can find childhood favourite dishes such as Lo Mi Ji ($2.20) and Har Cheong Fun ($3.50). Get ready for a major throwback session with these authentic, old-school dishes.
The other dim sum dishes are very value for money too, such as Xiao Long Bao (3 for $3), and Char Siew Pau (2 for $2).
Yi Dian Xin is also a proud owner of one of Singapore’s cheapest Liu Sha Baos ($3.30). Going at $3.80 for 3, you can indulge in more than just one tray without having to empty your wallet. Despite the affordability, the quality of the Liu Sha Baos weren’t stinged on.
Filled with super runny and smooth lava with a homely taste, Yi Dian Xin’s liu sha bao has rightfully earned its spot on our list of 12 Best Liu Sha Baos in Singapore History.
Address: 1012 Upper Serangoon Road
Opening Hours: 7.00am to 6.00pm (closed every alternate Tuesday)
5. Tiong Bahru Pau & Snack
If you’re looking for something to satisfy your dim sum craving within a 10 minute lunch break, this one’s perfect for you. This stall sells affordable dim sum to-go, but you can bring it to the nearby Tiong Bahru Market if you feel like savouring them on the spot.
Try the Siew Mai ($0.70 per piece) - generously stuffed with meat and well seasoned, this will impress any seasoned meat eater. Also, as mentioned in the stall name, their paus are not to be missed. Their Big Bao ($1.60) and Char Siew Bao ($0.80) are favourites, so go early before it runs out.
Don’t leave before adding their famous fried snacks to your bag too. Ranging from deep fried spring rolls with fragrant insides, to crusty curry puffs and sinful fishballs, it’s ok to spoil yourself here.
Address: 237 Outram Rd, 169041
Contact: 6222 7656
6. Kow Loon Hong Kong Dim Sum
Taking up two stalls of a coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio, this ambitious dim sum stall is confident that their dim sum will gather a crowd. Sure enough, with the low prices and high quality, their dim sum is something to be raved about.
Dim Sum here leans towards the savoury side, and most of their dishes are well seasoned and flavourful. Standard dim sum dishes are offered here, such as Siew Mai ($3 for 4), Beancurd Skin Roll ($3 for 3) and Har Gow ($3.80 for 3).
For the adventurous dim sum eaters, try their Braised Chicken Feet ($5). Sprinkled with sesame seeds, chilli and lemon, this dish has a unique texture and flavour that leaves a tangy aftertaste.
They also sell amazing Egg Tarts ($3.80 for 4), with flaky crusts and bouncy fillings. In this large dim sum stall, you’ll really be spoilt for choice.
Address: Blk 151 Ang Mo Kio Ave 5 #01-3030 560151
Opening Hours: 7 am - 9 pm
7. Chop Hean Kuan
What’s a dim sum list without dim sum from trusty ol’ Chinatown? Here’s a place for you to get quick and cheap dim sum, so you don’t commit the crime of leaving Chinatown without a Char Siew Bao or two in your tummy.
Chop Hean Kuan can be hard to spot, among the usually crowded People’s Park Cooked Food Centre. There’s often an elderly man playing music on his erhu or keyboard, so be ready for some traditional Chinese music from the 50s while you munch on your dim sum. It’s all part of the ultimate Chinatown experience.
Most of their buns are under a dollar, such as the Red Bean Bao, Lotus Bao, Char Siew Bao and Meat Bao. If their buns aren’t enough to fill your stomach, get their Lo Mai Kai ($1.80). Though it sorely lacks in the aesthetics department, the taste makes up for it.
Sample their flaky treats, such as their Fried Bao and Char Siew Sou, which cost under a dollar as well. For those who like sticky and savoury food, this will be a fave.
Address: People’s Park Complex Food Centre, Blk 32, #01-1018, New Market Rd
Opening Hours: 10 30 am - 7 pm daily, Closed on Mondays
Contact: 6534 2930
8. Le Xuan Hong Kong Dim Sum
Despite being all the way at the corner of Singapore, Changi doesn’t miss out on all the dim sum action. In fact, Le Xuan Hong Kong Dim Sum only closes at 1am, so this is a perfect stop for a midnight supper.
For just $4.20, you can get 5 Deep Fried Dumplings, which were crispy on the outside, and stuffed with chewy filling on the inside. They serve other basic dim sum dishes such as Siew Mai ($4 for 4), Lotus Bao ($3.50 for 3) and Har Gao ($4 for 3).
Guess what? They also have Crispy Durian Spring Rolls ($4 for 3)! Who cares if it’s Changi - distance is not an issue when it comes to durian.
For some exercise to work off the sinfulness, cycle from East Coast Park to find the Le Xuan Hong Kong dim sum stall at Changi Village. Food is a very effective motivating factor. Trust me - I’m speaking from personal experience.
Address: 5 Changi Village Road #01-2055, S 500005
Opening Hours: 7 30 am - 1 am
Contact: 6545 0210
9.Tong Xin Ju
Tong Xin Ju is located in the famous Maxwell Food Centre, and is a contributing factor to Maxwell’s good reputation. Specialising in Shanghai cuisine, you can find childhood favourites such as Shanghai Rice Cake ($4 - $6) and Hot and Sour Soup ($3 - $5).
I remember spending 50 cents every day on a styrofoam bowl of hot and sour soup in my primary school, and once I graduated, I never saw a single bowl again. I’m defoz going back to Tong Xin Ju for some major reminiscing.
It’s not difficult to see why this shop has a horde of die-hard fans even after the shop moved from Queensway Margaret Drive Food Centre. The Steamed Dumplings ($4 for 8) are stuffed thickly with filling, and the taste and chewiness is so addictive. For those who prefer contrasting textures, the Fried Dumplings ($3 for 8) offers a crispy exterior complementing its chewy, meaty insides.
Address: Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur St #01-92, 069184
Opening Hours: 11 am - 8 pm, Closed on Mon
Contact: 9662 3501
10. Hong Kong MongKok Dim Sum
Mongkok Dim Sum will give you a good reason to visit Geylang. Open on weekdays from 4 pm to 5 am and weekends from 10 am to 5 am, this stall caters to us nocturnal creatures. If your pregnant wife wakes up in the middle of the night demanding for her dim sum fix, you’ll know where to go.
At an affordable price, you can enjoy Siew Mai and Har Gow ($2.20 for 3 pieces) which are larger than the usual ones in stalls. Filled with chunks of meat and prawn, $2.20 for 3 pieces is really worth it.
What’s even crazier is that you can get Char Siew Baos at $2 for 3! In this time at age, finding delicious, decent sized baos at such prices is like finding a legendary pokemon - super rare.
Address: #02-097, Chinatown Complex Market, 335 Smith Street, 050335
Bonus #1: Tak Po
With their own website and availability for online reservations, Tak Po is no doubt more well known than others on this list. Only a 3 minutes walk away from Chinatown MRT station, Tak Po is the go-to place if you’re on the Purple Line.
Serving the usual dim sum suspects such as Deep Fried Prawn Dumpling ($4.50 for 3), Prawn Roll in Beancurd Skin ($3.80) and Steamed Yam Cake ($2.80).
Try their Prawn and Banana In Dragon Beard ($4.50) - they aren't sold at most other dim sum stalls. Wrapped in a crispy exterior, the banana and prawn inside create a unique and sweet flavour. Do note that this is only sold on weekends and public holidays only!
If you’re looking for a convenient and quick dim sum place, Tak Po is one for you. Take a look at their online menu here before you visit!
Address: 42 Smith St, 058954
Opening Hours: 7 am - 10 30 pm
Contact: 6225 0302
Bonus #2: Victor’s Kitchen
Victor’s Kitchen isn’t that much of a secret due to the fame their Liu Sha Baos ($4.50 for 3) have garnered. But their other dim sum dishes are also worth raving about.
Victor's King Prawn Dumpling ($5) is a must try when you’re there - the name says it all. King sized prawns you’re paying for, king sized prawns you will get. Try their Tasty Queen Size Siew Mai ($4.50) too, they are generously stuffed with meat and are really tasty.
One downside would be the cramped seating where you’re elbow to elbow with your neighbours, and be prepared to share your table with strangers. Nothing makes eating dim sum feel more authentic than dining in a space so cramped you'll feel like you're in Hong Kong/
Ps: of course, you can’t leave without having their Liu Sha Baos.
Address: 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-49 Sunshine Plaza, 189652
Opening Hours: 10 30 am - 8 pm
Contact: 9838 2851
Say goodbye to dim sum queues
Look no further for your quick dim sum fix! These 10 places are waiting to be discovered, hidden right in the heartlands. Made fresh before your eyes, you get to ensure that your dim sum is well taken care of and crafted to perfection.
Quality dim sum with short queues don’t only exist in a perfect world where feng shui is right and stars are aligned. They’re right here among us. It’s time to give these 10 dim sum hawker stalls the spotlight they deserve.