[SG] Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant - satisfying Dim Sum buffet!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

(Update as of 31 December 2013: this buffet is no longer available)

那些年,我们吃过的点心。。。what a nostalgic tagline for what seems like our contemporary style of having dim sum, the buffet way. A special as part of their anniversary celebration, they have this ala carte dim sum feast during lunch daily, from 11.30am – 2.30pm.

Located within Parkroyal Hotel at Kitchener Road, it was quite a posh set-up, typical of hotel restaurant dining and seemed pretty atypical of dim sum buffets. Upon reaching, we were greeted with excellent service and a seamless reservation process online.

Once seated, you’re served a cup of Chinese tea (香片), by their staff holding on to a long spout kettle, where you can spot the fanciful swirls or I like to call it a mini whirlpool in your teacup. It is said that the long tip helps to maintain the tea at the optimal temperature when served, as the heat is transferred as it flows through the long tip. The spout is also narrow enough to give sufficient water pressure so that it pushes the tea leaves to roll smoothly in the tea cup for a richer taste and aroma.

Getting started on the food proper, hearing the word free-flow, it got all of us excited and started our order frenzy! A must-have on my companion’s dim sum meal, she zoomed in to this immediately:

 Prawns in Beancurd Skin

We were all satisfied with this simple yet nicely done dish. Fresh juicy prawns wrapped with just a thin layer of crispy beancurd skin, it was fried to perfection where you don’t get to see much excess oil and it didn’t leave a greasy touch to it after finishing. Every mouthful we took was resounded by a crispy crunch and the smiles on all our faces reflected it all.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Pan-fried Carrot Cake

With the name as such, we were all expected the squarish pieces of carrot cake, pan-fried to crisp outside. This came as a surprise, but a pleasant one at that. We all dug in to extremely soft cubes, well-seasoned and nicely complemented with the slight refreshing crunch of beansprouts (I’m never a fan of towgays but this was cooked long enough to get rid of the raw taste that I even helped myself to more portions of towgays). A tad oily but it’s probably required for the eggs that were stir-fried together in the dish. The less-than-health-conscious us cleared everything within minutes and ordered a second serving to satisfy our tummies.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Hakka Dumpling with Turnip (茶果)

This isn’t a typical item on dim sum menus but it definitely brought back those olden days flavours and tugged at the heartstrings of my dining companion. Within the chewy bouncy with a slight translucent skin, contained bits of mushroom, beans, minced turnip etc, cooked together to give a unique savoury taste. It has a pretty strong veggie taste to it but that’s just me and my anti-veggie phenomenon, and seeing how the table of them enjoyed and even talked about it the day after the meal shows how much they’ve enjoyed it.      

Siew Mai

Given the name of the dim sum feast, I was expecting some old school simple siew mai with just minced meat or the occasional prawn bits. This came as a surprise after I took a bite and its skin came off the top to reveal a tiny quail’s egg! With half a quail’s egg in each siew mai, it added a nice touch to the differing textures, and it was basically old school dim sum with a hidden bonus! Minced meat wrapped in smooth skin that doesn’t stick to your teeth with every bite, yet carefully wrapped such that it doesn’t drop easily to make eating it a chore. A timeless classic that has been nicely done!

Verdict: 8.0/10

Har Gao with Coriander

This is always my test to determine if a place serves good dimsum. A simple dish of prawns wrapped in skin, it’s always a challenge finding the perfect one where the skin is of a perfect chewiness, able to hold the insides together yet not overly sticky and doesn’t break too easily, and of course the use of fresh prawns with a tinge of natural sweetness, those that ain’t the crunchy type yet having a tad of bounce in its meat. This managed to satisfy all the above well enough, though I’d have preferred one that didn’t have a blend of coriander in it. Despite the coriander mix, the freshness of the prawns still managed to come through with a tinge of sweetness, and the perfect skin for our palate.

Verdict: 8.0/10

Yam Paste Bun with Salted Egg Yolk

We were half expecting the likes of a  流沙包 (salted egg yolk custard bun), prying open cautiously just in case the fillings overflow in our eagerness and of course getting my camera ready for that shot of the moment. Not sure if it was our heightened expectations that got us thinking that the bun was quite a dismal attempt, we opened up to find nothing flowing, just what you'd normally see if you order red bean bun or lotus paste bun. 

It delivered exactly what it described though, imagine your bowl of orh nee, used as fillings and a salted egg yolk in the middle. The yam paste wasn't overly sweet and went well with the bun, while the yolk became a little too jelat for us. Aptly described by my companions, they said it reminded them of eating mooncakes, but in a bun form this time. Well, the taste indeed does match up to that especially with the egg yolk. Not exactly our type of bun, perhaps mooncake/salted yolk lovers would have a different verdict from us? 

Verdict: 7.0/10

Roast Duck

If you're the kind who loves to indulge in duck meat well roasted with crispy skin and juicy fats for that shiokness, you'd love this plate! After all, what's a dish of roast without the fats right? Glistening with fats, the meat was extremely smooth and tender, albeit a little boney for my liking. The skin could have been crispier, and the tiny fragments of the bones could have been removed for ease of consumption. That aside, it was still a dish good enough to satisfy us all, though not those who're more health-conscious! 

Soy Chicken

This was just average in my opinion, with tender well-marinated chicken but too boney as well. I found it a tad too salty, probably a good one to go with rice during their usual servings. I guess I've had one of the better ones along Chinatown and have developed a pickier taste bud, selecting only those that are super fatilicious! 

BBQ Pork Rib

In small cubes of ribs, this was barbequed to a tender soft meat and slightly sweet sauce to go with. It was pretty average as well, though I would have preferred lesser bones for the ease of eating!

Marinated Rice Noodle with Shredded Duck (cold appetiser) 

This was quite an exotic dish in my opinion but my companion loved it so much, dipping it with the soy chicken sauce and the 红油 sauce which we ordered later on. The rice noodles tasted pretty plain but were very chewy (or q), hence went well with almost any sauce. It was slightly savory with the pieces of shredded duck, though it tasted slightly like shredded pieces of ham to me. Somewhat an acquired taste I suppose! 

 Pork Belly with Taro and Mushroom 

How could we not order this with its name of 那些年烧腩, seeming like a signature dish 
for this Dim Sum spread! With very fattening pork belly wrapped in a bun roll, it tasted somewhat like your
usual braised pork belly bun (扣肉包) in a smaller bite-size portion. Tender and soft meat with the fragrance of taro infused in
it, it was quite a delish in a mouthful! The mushroom taste wasn't exactly strong nor distinct, but I liked it 
that way!  

Verdict: 7.5/10

 Pan-fried Duck Meat Bun with Goose Liver Sauce

This sounded equally tempting to us and we waited for this with much anticipation after our first order got forgotten. It's like the concept of 生煎包, except that the fillings are changed to duck meat. Pan-fried to a light crisp with soft bun on the inside and a flavourful filling, this was quite a contentment. The duck meat was minced too small though, that you couldn't really figure out it was duck meat unless you'd read the menu. It was more of a cross between Char Siew Bao and 生煎包, a satisfying one nonetheless!

Verdict: 7.5/10

Minced Meat Dumpling with Sour and Spicy Stock

For the adventurous spicy-goers, this is almost an essential! We loved how it wasn't chokingly spicy at the beginning, with the spice subtly emerging from the back of your throat to give that extra kick! Definitely went well with the Rice Noodles earlier, though you'll probably be asking for more tea very soon! Would have preferred it with a bit less skin for that perfect dumpling. 

Verdict: 7.0/10

Pan-fried Omelette with Silver Fish

This had quite an inkling of home-cooked flavour, pan-fried to a golden brown with lots of silver fish in it! Tasted flavourful enough, but was a pretty average dish as we all found it a tad too oily. 

On to the Desserts menu where we combed almost everything and had extra servings for some! 

Honeycomb Cake topped with Chrysanthemum

Some find this too sweet but I loved the fragrance and natural sweetness from the honeycomb and brown sugar used. A bit like 马来糕, it had more of the subtle sweetness that lingered in your mouth and a gradual aroma from the cake. The chrysanthemum pieces on top didn't really come through, probably a stronger dose would have made it better! 

Glutinous Rice Ball in Brown Sugar Syrup  (糖不甩)

Imagine your rice balls (湯圓) coated in peanut like your 'muah chee', this had finely grated peanuts and brown sugar syrup that wasn't overly sweet and complemented the dish with the varying textures all in a mouthful - sticky, chewy, crunchy, a simple combination of contentment. 

Almond Cake with Mango Sauce

Extremely fragile little pieces of jelly, it threatened to wobble and fall off our spoons while on the way to our mouths. A little too sweet with the mango sauce, it overwhelmed the favour of the almond cake itself, though the cold jelly was a nice cooling touch to our throats. The mango sauce tasted similar to what was used in the mango sago with pomelo, nice yet too strong to go along with this. 

 Fresh Mango with Pomelo Cream (杨枝甘露)

With a generous serving of mango cubes in each of our bowls, how can anyone resist the temptation of this? The sweetness of this was nicely balanced with a slight sourish tinge of the pomelo so that you won't get jelat, though I felt that it was just a little diluted with too little mango taste in it. Nonetheless, a decent one that some of us even asked for double servings!

Verdict: 8.0/10

 Homemade Beancurd with Wolfberry

This is a must-try for every visit to Si Chuan Dou Hua I believe. One that won me over and requested for extra servings after my first mouthful. Replacing the typical sugar syrup with honey-coated wolfberries, it gave just a slightly sweetened taste to the smooth and silky warm beancurd, a melt-in-your-mouth sensation with every mouthful you take! With cooked wolfberries in the addition, it also gave rise to a subtle natural sweetness, yet not overpowering the inherent beancurd taste and texture. Simplicity at its very best, it's legit to ask for more than one bowl of it! 

Verdict: 9.0/10

With a fusion of different Chinese cuisines, it was a buffet spread that left us feeling contented and craving for more after the meal. With hits and misses, a usual for most places we visit anyway, some dishes were so memorable that it left a lingering taste and memory of how it made us feel, making us want to go back for another round soon! And perhaps this is what 点心 symbolises - 吃在口里 , 点到心里.

This buffet was priced at $30 per pax, and $5 for the floral tea, topped with service charge and GST, each person came up to about $42. Best to call and check on the availability of this buffet, as it's not on its regular menu.

Overall Verdict: 8.5/10
181 Kitchener Road Level 3
Singapore 208533
Parkroyal Hotel 

Tel: 6428 3170
Online Reservations are accepted

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  1. I love reading your posts. You know, a lot of people are hunting around for this great information; you could help them greatly by your post.
    Matt Levine

    1. Thanks James! Glad to be of help through sharing our experiences :)