Before arriving in Singapore, I had never heard of Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant. The popular dim sum restaurant, located not far from my hotel, was recommended to me over and over by Uber drivers (literally all of them), fellow hotel guests, and random people walking down the street.
Since the locals know best, and being a fan of dim sum, I knew I had to make the unplanned visit to see what the big deal was.
If you are looking for more information about Singapore, I highly recommend you pick up a guidebook such as Fodor's In Focus Singapore
Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant has uncommon hours, 6:00PM to 6:00AM. Even with those hours, the place is almost always packed. A line out front door is not uncommon. Not surprisingly, when the bars close late at night, the restaurant gets busy.
On my visit, the inside was full, but luckily there was ample seating outside in the back. Though it was still hot and humid at midnight, I enjoyed eating outside under the stars with what appeared to be mostly locals.
My only comment about the interior of the restaurant was the air conditioner felt pretty awesome for the 10 seconds it took me to pass through while walking to the outdoor seating in the back.
If you don’t speak Chinese, then you are in luck. Ordering from the menu was simple. The English menus had pretty pictures, so I knew exactly what I was ordering.
The menu had a large variety of items that were sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. The menu was separated into sections including steamed, fried/baked, la mian, dim sum, special dishes, cooked dishes, noodles/rice, desserts, and drinks.
When you select an item, be sure to mark it with a pencil on the supplied paper. When you are done selecting items, hand the paper to the server when they walk by.
As your items are ready, they will start appearing one by one in no particular order.
Char Siew Pau (#103)
My dim sum adventure started off with a pair of Char Siew Pau (2 SGD/$1.49). Char Siew Pau is simply a Cantonese style barbecue pork filled steamed bun.
The steamed bun, which was bleached white in color, was slightly dense, fluffy, and warm. The first bite felt like biting into a pillow of flavor.
Hidden inside the bun was a generous portion of chunky glazed pork. The pork, covered in an almost American style BBQ style sauce, was sweet, salty, and smoky.
A quick dip in the sweet and sour sauce elevated these Char Siew Pau to another level.
For the price, you can’t go wrong with the Char Siew Pau.
Har Kow (#107)
These Har Kow (2.40 SGD/$1.79), or shrimp dumplings, were a thing of beauty.
They may look simple, but so much skill was required to create such perfect dumplings. A chef must be extremely skilled in the craft of creating Har Kow.
The skin was perfect. Thin and translucent with more pleats than I could count. But not too thin. Somehow, when I picked up the dumpling with my chopsticks, the skin did not break but remained intact.
Peaking through the translucent skin was a perfectly cooked piece of fresh shrimp. The slightly salty shrimp seemed to be bursting out of the wrapper, but small enough to be enjoyed in one bite.
My only complaint was that each order only included two dumplings. Since they are so cheap, I had no problem ordering more.
Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (#251)
Dim sum is never complete without ordering Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (4.50 SGD/$3.35). It is probably one of the most popular dim sum items that one can order.
Xiao Long Bao are steamed buns, or soup dumplings, usually made by wrapping dough around a ball of pork. When steamed, the delicious and hot juices from the pork gather inside the pocket of the dumpling.
Just as with the Har Kow, these dumplings were masterfully wrapped. The skin of the dumpling was the perfect thickness, not too thick or thin. The skin remained intact, even as I picked up each one with my chopsticks.
My one small complaint was how the tips of the dumpling skin were slightly dry.
You might be asking yourself, how do I eat Xiao Long Bao? There is no one answer, but I started by picking up the Xiao Long Bao with my chopsticks, dipping it in a little soy sauce and ginger, then placing it in a spoon. Once in the spoon, I poked the side of the dumpling with my chopsticks, causing an explosion of salty and smoky pork juices to flow out into the spoon. Inside the dumping was a large ball of juicy pork packed with so much flavor.
After eating the dumpling, don’t forget about the flavorful pork juices in the spoon.
Sichuan Chilli Oil Wanton (#253)
Next up was the Sichuan Chilli Oil Wanton (4.50 SGD/$3.35).
In this dish, four wantons, or more commonly known as wontons, were swimming in a bath of chilli (chili) oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sliced green onions, and red peppers. Though the sauce had a slight kick to it, it wasn’t as spicy as I would have thought. The sauce was a perfect mix of spicy, salty, and tangy.
The skin of the wanton was steamed perfectly. The skin was soft, light, and just right thickness. Inside the dumpling was a flavorful and juicy mixture of minced pork and veggies.
Simple, savory, delicious.
Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun (#121)
After reading rave reviews about the Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun (4.20 SGD/$3.13), I knew I had to order it.
All I can say is wow.
The dough of the steamed bun was identical to the pork filled Char Siew Pau. Dense, fluffy, and warm.
The big difference was the salty, sweet, gooey, oozing, golden yellow yolk that flowed out at first bite. I have never experienced anything like it before.
A little dip of the steamed bun in the sweet and sour sauce was perfection.
If you are in the mood for something sweet, definitely try the Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun.
Like most places in Singapore, service was friendly and efficient.
Food came out quickly and hot.
For the outside seating area, the servers seemed to hang around, waiting to help anyone that needed anything.
When something was needed, a quick raise of the hand and a server would immediately walk over.
I now understand why everyone and their mother recommended that I try Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant.
The variety of dim sum was fantastic, the food was cheap and delicious, service was quick and friendly, and I actually enjoyed eating outside under the stars, though humid.
I now add myself to the growing list of people who recommend Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant to everyone.
My only tip: plan on eating as late as you can, after 11:00PM. It’s a little cooler at night and you will avoid the dinner rush and lines.
- Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun/li>
- Food arrived quickly
- Outdoor seating
- Almost always busy, especially the inside air conditioned dining area
- Food arrives when ready, not at the same time
- The Sichuan Chilli Oil Wanton could have been a little spicier
Closed on Tuesday
183-191 Jalan Besar
GPS Coordinates: 1.308140,103.856975