We are always non-stop travellers…
Meaning we are never in the same place long enough, so we spend every last minute of the day sprinting from one place to the next. So the fact that we touched down in Singapore just after 7am, meant we had a head-start on the sprawling diamond-shaped metropolis that is Singapore. Whist the shops do not kick off till around 11am, we thought we’d take the opportunity to have an early breakfast and case out the nearby Marina Bay Sands Casino.
When we returned at lunch time, we thought of no better introduction to Asia then to stop at the fast paced Din Tai Fung yum cha hotspot, a place my father had walked past a few days before and said to not miss it. My parents didn’t get a chance to stop here, but said it looked the part – so we took the punt.
Walking in, it’s obvious this place is all about fast-paced, freshly prepared fare made fresh from the 2 open aired kitchens on either side of the restaurant. The dozens of staff worked tirelessly to continually pump out the restaurants (and arguably the cuisine’s) flagship morsel: the xia long bao, or shanghai steamed pork dumpling.
We sat down and observed the nearby tables and how they operated. It was clear you ticked off what items you want. flagged down a waitress and waited not longer than a few minutes for food to arrive.
We started off with a 10-pack of the xia long bao.
It would be fairly easy for me to call these the best I have ever ate. So I will. Phenomenal, bite-sized balls of steamed pork goodness. A lot smaller than we had come to expect within the confines of Melbourne based Tea Houses, but more intricate and flavoursome on so many more levels. The broth tasted so fresh, and the balls of minced pork sat almost vacuum sealed on top of them but the dough was so fluffy it dissolved on your tongue. Could have had 3 or 4 more serves, just to myself. Lydia agreed.
With this, I declined the choice of Tiger (later drank one anyway) and went for this rather delightful Taiwanese beauty, which pays homage to the franchise’s Taiwanese roots.
Definately hit the spot, and the bottomless green tea certainly complimented the food well. Next, we tried the fried pork and vegetable Won Tons.
These were great, if not outstanding, but still were fresh, crispy and flavoursome.
We also had the shredded pork and egg fried rice which arrived promptly.
Personally brought to the table by one of the myriad tireless chefs that frantically paced from kitchen to table, kitchen to table to ensure that everything was always prompt and fresh.
The steamed pork buns arrived next, and were a real hoot.
Having the same filling as the steamed pork, but with the fluffy pillow of fresh pork bun dough. The key difference is the thickness, and texture of the skin and these were marvellous also.
Not content with the armada of food we just sunk, my final dish, a single dim sum arrived to cap off the meal. I was reading about how it was the stuff reserved for Kings and Emperors in traditional times, and yes, while I did firmly believe the sign was blowing smoke up my arse I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try one of my favourite items: truffle.
Truffle. Xiao. Long. Bao. Who the hell would have thought. I must admit, I was rather skeptical. After all, everyone knows about Chinese truffles and how they are the stuff Albaese truffle traders wipe the bottom of their shoes with. Nevertheless, I sunk my teeth in, fully expecting the pork to be seasoned with a few drops of imitation truffle oil. At $4.50 a pop, it certainly didn’t disappoint. My mouth immediately exploded with fresh truffle flavour, even after I had dunked the thing in ginger vinegar and chilli oil. What a superb way to cap off the lunch, and what a great way to foray into Singapore’s culinary welcoming.
Stay tuned folks, because we are seriously here to eat the place out.