What: Famous Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng Tsui Wah will open its first Singapore outlet, also the first in Southeast Asia, at Clarke Quay (Block A #01-03, space formerly occupied by Attica Club) 1pm, 15 June 2018.
Franchised by Vista F&B Services Pte. Ltd., and a joint venture between Tsui Wah Holdings Limited and Jumbo Group Ltd., the 140-seater contemporary Hong Kong teahouse will sadly not be a 24-hours concept (for now), operating only 11am to 11pm daily (except opening day).
What to expect: Popular signatures, such as Crispy Bun with Condensed Milk, the iconic Milk Tea, and their curry item series will be available on the menu at launch. Marketing representatives have confirmed that more items will be introduced progressively as operations stabilise in the coming months.
Following an original Tsui Wah recipe of more than 30-years, the comforting Borscht with Thick Toast ($5.50) is an easy choice. I recommend dipping the thick toast in it to soak up some of the hearty sweetness that comes from tomato, cabbage, onion, carrot and celery.
Another original from Tsui Wah, the Braised Abalone Rice with Diced Chicken & Kale ($14) is pretty much a Cantonese-style risotto. It may not be al dente, but textures are good and flavours, homely.
The King Prawns in XO Sauce with Tossed Noodles is very affordably priced at $11. Chef says its best enjoyed tossed with their delicious housemade XO sauce. You can also use a bit of the peppery fish soup to moisten the noodles if they start to stick together.
Chef shares that they are able to procure better, more premium ingredients here to create the XO sauce, so it’s allegedly better than what you’ll enjoy in Hong Kong.
Made using special imported curry paste from Hong Kong, Australian fresh lamb rack and a 50-year-old recipe, the signature Lamb Chop Curry with Steamed Rice ($29) is aromatic and packed with spices. The rice can also be switched out for bread instead.
Note that the meat was quite gamey when we tasted it (not that I minded), though very tender, so it may not be for everyone.
Meltingly tender, Kagoshima-style pork cartilage—a recipe supposed shared by a Japanese chef—makes an appearance twice on our tasting menu, and both very welcome.
There is a soup version—Kagoshima-style Pork Cartilage in Fish Soup with Mixian ($8.50)—that sees the meltingly tender cartilage paired with uniquely springy, almost chewy, rice noodles in flavoursome fish soup.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the instant noodle version—Kagoshima-style Pork Cartilage with Tossed Instant Noodles ($9.50). Such a simple dish with the springy instant noodles sopping up that tasty sauce.
This definite HK must-order, Tsui Wah Signature Pork Chop Bun ($7.50), did not fail. A seemingly simple combination that just works together. Pork chop, with a mildly sweet sauce, sandwiched between nicely toasted, buttered bun with bits of pickles to balance.
Made using imported tea leaves from Tsui Wah Hong Kong, their Milk Tea ($3.50 hot, $4 iced) is brewed daily and kept at max for 30-mins to ensure optimal taste and freshness. I’d actually thought it would be sweeter, but the smooth, full-bodied concoction is served without any sugar and diners can choose to adjust to own preferred level with sugar sachets by the table.
Try also the Iced Grass Jelly, made creamy and nutty with coconut milk, or the Hot Almond Milk with Egg White (not pictured) that’s practically a dessert on its own.
Tsui Wah’s rendition of a classic Hong Kong snack—Crispy Bun with Condensed Milk ($4)—is just as imagined. Crisp, golden brown crust topped with sweet condensed milk and butter that seems to seep into the fluffy insides. Be warned though that if you wait too long, it might get soggy.
If you’ve had the Crispy Buns before, I’d recommend having the Savoury French Toast Bites ($9.50). Freshly prepared—so prepare to wait if the eatery is packed—and arriving piping hot, the eggy blocks present this nostalgia-inducing 'old school’ taste.
While interiors are furnished quite modern, like some other Chinese dining restaurant chains locally, it feels like Tsui Wah Singapore has kept true to its soul and Hong Kong-style cuisine. Dishes are decent and there are some items I’ll definitely return for, especially with the wallet-friendly pricing.
My top picks: Kagoshima-style Pork Cartilage with Tossed Instant Noodles, Tsui Wah Signature Pork Chop Bun, and Borscht with Thick Toast.
This was an invited media tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.
Tsui Wah Singapore
Address: #01-03 Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road, Singapore 179020
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 11pm; from 1pm on 15 June 2018
Directions: If you’re coming from Liang Court, follow the alley between McGettigan’s and the river.