To me, dim sum is the OG of weekend brunches, since my Cantonese grandparents took us to a yum cha session at least once a month when I was a child. The places we visited were always loud and buzzy, and some of them had aunties pushing the carts of food around. Well, that same feeling of being a kid in the candy store survives till today with the many free-flow dim sum brunches (some with options for bubblies, no less) in Singapore. And if you’re in the mood for designer dim sum, one of the best restaurants is The St. Regis Singapore’s fine dining Cantonese restaurant, Yan Ting.
It might be one of the priciest dim sum buffets in Singapore at $168++, but hey, you get your fill of the non-vintage R de Ruinart Brut (known for its freshness, balance, and enduring length) and a really extensive menu to choose from. They also have an option without bubbles at $148++ (house wines, Tiger beer, and soft beverages) while those going without alcohol fork out $108++ for just food and Chinese tea.
Har gau, siew mai, char siew bao are the three dim sum dishes everyone knows and they usually set the benchmark for me when I visit a new dim sum place. Naturally, Yan Ting doesn’t disappoint – the skin of the Steamed Crystal Shrimp Dumplings with Bamboo Pith was a perfect thickness while the truffle paste atop the Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumpling was quite delicate and didn’t overpower the actual dumpling. The sauce of the Fluffy Steamed Barbecued Pork was a tad sweet for me but as advertised, the bun was fluffy and a joy to eat.
Strangely, the fried egg on the Stir-Fried Carrot Cake with XO Sauce was more flavourful thant the carrot cake itself. That said, the chunky radish cake squares hold up their housemade XO sauce well so just load up, and you’re all good. A deep-fried dish worth trying is the Deep-Fried Prawn Roll with Avocado (instead of mango like other restuarants do). It might not look pretty but the creamy and crunchy combination gets a thumbs up from us.
On the first page of the menu, you’ll see two specials that are limited to one serving per person because of the premium ingredients used. The Double Boiled Fresh Abalone Soup with Black Garlic was absolutely lovely – take it from someone who’s been drinking double-boiled soup for as long as she can remember. The amount of time and effort put into the dish is evident from the robustness of the abalone and sea whelk soup, and the black garlic lends a distinct earthy aroma that anchors the broth. The whole experience is enhanced by sipping the soup from a clay teacup. Though well-cooked, the Wok-Baked Boston Lobster with Superior Stock was a lacking in the flavour department for us, especially after the soup and the truffle siew mai.
Any self-respecting Cantonese restaurant should also have good roast meats so the menu. Alas, the roast meats platter fell slightly below expectations, with only the fragrant and tender soy sauce chicken standing out. The roast duck and barbecued pork weren’t memorable and the roast pork didn’t have the distinct layers of skin, fat, and meat that we love it for. At least the deep-fried dishes at Yan Ting are executed well so you might want to go for those. Try the addictive Deep Fried Eggplant and Chicken Floss and the classic Deep Fried Live Soon Hock. The sauce that comes will the latter is umami without being too overpowering so feel free to douse your piece of fish with it. The Soon Hock is also undoubtedly fresh, with a good bite.
We couldn’t stomach anymore savoury dishes between two people so we skipped the carbs and went straight to dessert. The fail-safe sweet treats are definitely the Glutinous Rice Ball with Black Sesame and the Mini Egg Tart. I wanted to love the Chrysanthemum and Apple Jelly but the crunchy granola they sprinkled on top didn’t complement the delicate sweetness of the jelly.
You might be wondering if it’s still worth the money after reading about the hits and misses, but I believe the only pitfall of Yan Ting is stretching itself too thin for a meal that only lasts two hours a seating. If they reduced the menu by 30%, they might be able to concentrate on making all the dishes a lot better than average. In fact, they do serve a dim sum set menu priced at $55++ per person (or $95++ with house wines, soft beverages, and Chinese tea). Would I go back? Sure, now that I know what to order. And the uncommon choice of free-flow champagne doesn’t hurt either.
Yan Ting is located at Level 1U, The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247911, p. +65 6506 6887. Weekend brunch is available on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays; first seating 10.30am-12.30pm and second seating 1pm-3pm.