In coloquial KL-slang of Manglish (Malaysian English), yum cha means to meet up somewhere to makan or supper. In my house hold though, yum cha means having dim sum – which is the colloquial slang in Taiwan and Hong Kong. In Cantonese, the literal meaning of yum cha means to drink tea. It is a form of tea-tasting which our forefathers have done when they travelled the Silk Road and seek for teahouses to rest in. Whilst drinking tea, an array of light snacks would be served, acting as light snacks. In today’s context, dim sum has very much become a national identity of Hong Kong and Asia. Food lovers frequent dim sum parlors and order at least half a dozen of these small-sized servings to give us the fullness of a main meal.
Last week, two of my closest girlfriends and I did exactly that. Dim sum has always been a weekly affair for me back home. I get excited over the dishes served and both my dad and I are critical when it comes to tasting siew mai and har gow. Singapore and Malaysia’s food tastiness have always been clear; even the chili crab dish doesn’t really surpass that of Malaysia’s but I have to say when it comes to dim sum, Singapore has done a better job. Their lau sar pau (steamed pau with salted egg yolk lava) is beyond tasty and even other typical dim sum dishes are scrumptious and less oily. Dim sum isn’t exactly known to be healthy, after all – they are mostly fried, oily and even the steamed dishes are filled with high content of sodium and MSG. Blargh, right? Taken in moderation though, and with the help of chinese tea to aid digestion – this becomes the perfect meal for catching up with friends. The trick is to not be overly ambitious and over-order as the tiny portions give the illusion of not being able to appease your appetite.
I am always a happy girl after a meal of dim sum – more often than not, a tad too full as well. We took ten minutes just to pick the dishes we want and I had to constantly remind them not to order more than necessary; at the end, we did over-order anyways. The peril of choices; we girls just couldn’t help but overestimate our appetite. Well, in case you are exploring Singapore and wondering what to eat, then Swee Choon Tim Sum, Victor’s Kitchen or 126 Wan Dou Sek/Geylang Lor 17 would be my best bet. But be careful though, during peak mealtimes, there’s usually a queue and waiting time ranges from 20-40 minutes. Other than that, the food is great and don’ forget to drink lots of chinese tea while you are at it!