Sunrise over Singapore
Although Kuching is known for a lot of good food that you cannot find in West Malaysia (or anywhere else) like Kolo Mee and Sarawak Laksa, Kuching is decidedly not Cantonese in its cuisine. If you are looking for any sort of Cantonese food, wait until you get to KL or Singapore. Especially if you want good dim sum. The advice given to us by locals about getting dim sum in Kuching is, “don ‘t even try.”
So when we were planning to go to Singapore, I had a major hankering for dim sum. I was determined to get me some really good dim sum. Not just any ordinary dim sum but really good, Hong Kong-style dim sum. (After all, this dim sum meal would have to carry me over until the next time I got to KL, Singapore or Hong Kong.
With that in mind, I called my cousin 2 weeks before we left for Singapore to let him know that we were coming and to let him know that I was hankering for dim sum. He was more than happy to oblige. He made reservations at Wah Lok at the Carlton Hotel (supposedly one of the better dim sum places in Singapore) for the Friday we arrived. He also invited my mom to come along.
So I called my mom to let her know and to warn her not to make any plans for that afternoon because we were going for dim sum. I was gonna get myself some dim sum and then some!
You know how “the best laid plans of mice and men go oft’ awry”? Well, on Wednesday night, I get a call from my mom. Wouldn’t you know it, another aunt of mine was so excited to see us, she decided to make popiah and invited all cousins, some of whom I had not seen in over 10 years, to come to her home That Very Friday for lunch!
“So what do you want to do?” my mom asked. “We could still just go with that one cousin for lunch but then you’d miss out on getting to see ALL your cousins.”
You know when someone gives you a choice that’s not really a choice at all? How could I possibly insult my aunt who had gone through all this trouble to prepare a feast and gather the family for us? And how could I miss this opportunity to catch up with all my relatives?
Resignedly I told Mom to call that one cousin to cancel the dim sum reservation and come over to the house. GUNFUNIT!
Making it Up
So did we have fun with the relatives that Friday? Sure we did. And did I regret not going for dim sum at the Carlton? Sure I did. But in the process of the conversation with my relatives, my aunts got wind of my hankering for dim sum so they all decided to take me to dim sum for lunch the next day. Just not at Wah Lok, but another place called Noble House.
(Isn’t it nice to be treated so well? This only happens when you don’t come around to visit so often ^_^)
So, yay! I was finally going to get me some dim sum! Several of my cousins and aunties came along – after all, dim sum is a meal best shared by many. They said that the last time they were there, it was very good (though it had been several years since).
Eating it Up
Was the better than anything we could get in Kuching? Definitely.
Better than my hopes and expectations? I wouldn’t say that. I have had better dim sum in Hong Kong (duh) and even in San Jose (Dynasty).
Did I stuff myself full of dim sum? Of course. :-d
But on the whole, only some dishes were real highlights like the char siu bao (that alone made the dim sum memorable – my kids ate three each!)
The yam puffs were delicate, fragile crispy bites filled with just the right amount of savory-sweet filling to make you want another.
The cheese balls were an interesting deep fried fusion of broccoli, shrimp paste, cheese and croutons. I would have eaten 10 of those except I was already so full!
The rest were pretty standard, good quality dim sum. Nothing that would make you speechless but nothing that would make you upset. Overall we ate everything and we didn’t complain. It was a parade of food, from the chicken feet…
…to the har gow…
…to the pork in bean curd skin…
…and the radish cake…
…followed by the cheong fun…
…and the fried tofu…
…and finally the shrimp and banana fritter.
Yes, my craving was satisfied. But more than that, the company of family turned what I would consider good dim sum meal into a really great and memorable meal. I can’t complain. What more could I have asked for? We got fun, we had food, we had family. I got to hang out with cousins who I hadn’t seen in years. I got to meet my nephews who I hadn’t seen since they were knee-high and now were towering over me.
I do still wonder how Wah Lok’s dim sum would have been. I suspect the dim sum would have been better there, but then again the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The good news is, we’re close and there are opportunites to go back. I look forward to the next time I get to share a meal with my Singapore family.
Thanks guys for making it so fun!