Starry-eyed over dim sum
I finally got down to visiting that much vaunted Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant from Hong Kong.
Had to wonder about the Michelin star rating though: If Ah Kow does the cooking and wins the star, but Ah Miow runs the branch, do they share the accolade?
Some establishments with three Michelin stars have so many branches, I have given up counting.
Don't get me wrong. I am not discrediting the food from that famous dim sum joint. The meal was good but not memorable.
Then, some makan angels on my social media pages cited this "Malaysian, but Singapore PR, and trained in Hong Kong dim sum hawker chef, somewhere in the Kovan area".
After a couple of U-turns searching, I found Mr Tan Yik Foong in his stall, which is quietly tucked beside a busy economy rice station in a kopitiam.
His stall didn't look like much and in fact, was quite uninspiring.
After ordering, I saw him take out an old antique Chinese weighing scale to measure the flour portions. Wow, I thought, wondering if it was a gimmick.
But he reassured me: "These things are what I've been using all this while and they are more accurate, especially with the little portions."
Mr Tan spent his early years in Hong Kong learning his craft and later had a gig in Genting Highlands.
His siew mai ($2.80) had extra crunch, thanks to the expertly braised black mushroom bits. Just as resilient was the har kow ($3.30) that had one of the crunchiest small prawn fillings I've had at a hawker stall.
I give him full marks for his "smiling" char siew pao pastry. So light and fluffy.
But not all were hits. The prawn cheong fun rolls lacked flavour. Perhaps a more robust sauce was needed.
But the wu kok (yam puffs) were among the best I've had - not too oily and the filling was moist and savoury. The crust, which relies on the natural starch of the tuber, was cloud-fluffy and crispy.
The filling of the liu sha bao (salted egg custard buns) oozed delightfully and I also adored the fried and steamed bean skin rolls. The filling was tightly packed and had such a nice texture.
Instead of the usual century egg porridge, Mr Tan offers a tang jai chook or "boat porridge" with peanuts, cuttlefish, minced pork and beehoon crispies. It was very comforting.
Easily, this chef deserves some Michelin stars should Michelin reviewers come knocking.
Makansutra, founded by KF Seetoh, is a company that celebrates Asian food culture and lifestyle. It publishes food guides in and around the region, produces a food series, develops interactive mobile content and services, operates foodcourts and eateries, organises food tours and events, and consults on culinary concepts.
Yi Dian Xin
1012 Upper Serangoon Road
- Closed on alternate Tuesdays