Makansutra: Lucky8 is a gem with hidden treasures
Chinese restaurant Lucky8 in Shaw Centre offers 'lost' dimsum delights
If you are not familiar with this labyrinth of a mall in the heart of Orchard Road, you might not realise there's a gem of a Chinese restaurant within Shaw Centre.
Even if you do, it's hard to notice what's so special about Lucky8's leather-bound menu.
Flip the pages and it's the same fancy delights, from roast duck to abalone and exquisite seafood.
But then there's an A4-size accordion-fold menu that lists a few things you ought to try.
Chinese food consultant and writer David Yip worked with Lucky8 to introduce "lost dimsum items", which he learnt from old Cantonese chefs in China.
He said: "I told the boss, if you are just selling the usual har gow, siew mai and buns, no one will come to this corner of the building just for them."
So the restaurant's owners Legend Lin and Tse Kit, also the head chef, worked with Yip to introduce 12 rarely seen "snacks from the heart" late last year.
I was wondering what could be so special about "lost" dimsum items.
I believe these things are booted from menus because they are not popular, such is evolution in food culture.
But then the Seafood Pumpkin Dumpling ($6.20) came along, dressed in a pretty orange hue and stuffed with minced seafood.
The skin was soft and lightly gummy, resilient and sweetish, and paired well with the savoury filling.
I found myself wondering who on earth would let this get "lost".
The next item - the Steamed Traditional Glutinous Roll ($5.20), steamed rice in popiah skin - looked like it should remain lost. But I took a bite and realised it was all about flavour and texture.
The grains were consistently soft and the bits of hae bi (dried shrimp) hidden inside were delightfully held in place by the skin.
At this stage, I was thinking what else they could possibly surprise me with.
Then, the soon kueh lookalike Steamed Dumpling ($6.20) arrived.
But in situations like this, I never let the eyes judge.
The startling difference was the skin, which Yip said was made of cooked rice mash. The softness of the skin partnered the chopped meat and greens filling well.
The item I was particularly curious about was the fried har gow or Crispy Fried Prawn Dumpling ($6.20).
Again, I was taken in by the skin - it was similar to the hum sui kok or salted dumplings, made with sweet potato starch and some baking flour which, when fried, has a textured skin that's crispy yet gummy.
I adored this one.
Next came the Golden Coin Chicken, which is available only through advance order.
Pieces of bak kwa, chicken liver and fatty pork were skewered, roasted with char siew sauce and served with a shot of brandy (believe me, they went well together).
Not all the 12 items are available every day, but at least six are offered during lunchtime.
Have fun looking for Lucky8, now that you know what treasures are hidden there.
And yes, they also offer har gow, siew mai and buns.
Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road
Monday to Saturday 11.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm
Sunday 10am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets and has his own TV shows on cable. He publishes food guides and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.