[SG] Man Fu Yuan | memorable dim sum affair where quality matters

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reputedly one of Singapore's finest Chinese restaurants serving classic Cantonese cuisine, we have heard much about the quality food served, especially their dim sum menu. On a crusade to discover the finest dim sum places in town, we decided to visit the elegantly yet contemporary styled restaurant at InterContinental Hotel.

With the ongoing Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake promotion, Man Fu Yuan apparently reduced their dim sum offerings and it left us mildly disappointed since the purpose of our visit was centred on trying their hand-crafted dim sum. Nonetheless, we were assured by the serving lady that the list of dim sum available comprised the house's signatures. Afterall, at the end of the day, it is quality that would make our calories count!


We were quite surprised that even for dim sum, Man Fu Yuan served us amuse-bouche each to prepare us for the meal ahead. This not only gave us an insight to the Chef's approach to the art of Chinese cuisine but was also a very nice gesture to kickstart our lunch.

Quality and fresh lump of crab meat was neatly tucked into a thick slice of cucumber. It tasted light and refreshing but more importantly, it showcased the Chef's emphasis on quality and fresh ingredients to glorify simple dishes.

Har Kau, Prawn Dumplings | S$6.80/++

We were both truly impressed upon the first bite and were convinced that this had to be one of the top har kaus to be found in Singapore. Carefully hand made, each har kau had more than eight pleats imprinted on the paper-thin crystalline wrapper that had good elasticity. The fresh large prawn within the dumpling was succulent and was bouncy rather than crunchy, emanating just the desired level of natural sweetness with each mouthful. Quite simply the best har kau we have had so far.

Siew Mai, Pork Dumpling | S$6.80/++

Siew mai is just about the next dish after har kau to put a Chinese dim sum chef to the culinary test. Filled with fresh minced pork, this rendition had an interesting twist with a thin slice of scallop sitting atop. While the robust flavours of the simple dumpling aced and the juiciness of the siew mai appealed favourably, the presentation was somewhat clumsy. The wrapping for the siew mai was inconsistent and when presented in the classic bamboo steamers, it seemed vulnerable to topple or fall sideways anytime.

Lo Bak Go, Radish Cake | S$5.20/++

When it comes to dim sum, the sequence always runs in the following order - har kau, siew mai, lo bak go! At least that is how it goes with the folks here at make your calories count. With that many different renditions out there by various dim sum chefs, this was one of the more memorable ones. Encased in a light batter deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown colour, it gave a nice layer of crispness and crunch to the soft but not overly mashy radish cake on the inside. What I liked about this simple dish was that the basics were not overlooked as you could identify the fine strands of shredded radish packed together to form the classic dim sum dishWith a classic Cantonese-style XO sauce to top the radish cake enhancing the unami flavours of the dim sum, this is one of the few must-orders!

Char Siew Bau, Honey Pork Bun | S$5.20/++

The steamed char siew bau was light and fluffy. It could be pulled apart with a gentle peel, revealing a blend of diced honey barbecued pork. There was a mild sweetness that was enough to please our demanding dim sum palates yet falling short of satiating our appetite. The beautiful flavours of the honey marinade and fragrance of the roast combined harmoniously to make this a must-try for char siew bau lovers!

Liu Sha Bau, Steamed Egg Custard Bun | S$12/++ for six pieces

When it comes to liu sha bau, there is no better way to judge than to let the bun do the talking. A gentle peel to the sides of the bun revealed a warm and luscious salted egg yolk beautifully blended with custard to create one of the best fillings in town. While the flavours were perfectly balanced in sweetness and salinity, our only complaint stemmed from the inconsistency in the bun where the base was much thicker and denser than the rest of the bun. Apart from that, the filling was as close to perfect as one could possibly ask for.

While all good things come in pairs, a basket of liu sha baus comes in sixes and you could choose between the steamed or fried version. It was a shame that we were unable to get a mix of three each so we would have to reserve our calories for the fried version till next time!

Char Siew & Siew Yuk, Roasted Meat Platter | S$32/++

Available in various combinations, we went for my favourite char siew (barbecued pork) and siew yuk (roast pork). Price wise, it was slightly more expensive as I understood from the serving lady that siew yuk comes at a premium. For S$32/++, you could actually enjoy a trio platter comprising char siew, soya chicken and roast duck while this same price fetches you just char siew and siew yuk.

The char siew had a decent cut with just a good thin layer of fat though the leaner portions were slightly too stiff for my liking. What we could not deny was that gorgeous honey marinade that made us empty the plate!

Precision was just about everything for the siew yuk; starting with that lovely crackling sound from the crispy skin, defined layers of fat to the well-blended homemade mustard sauce. What I appreciated was that the chef thoughtfully sliced the siew yuk in bite-sized portions, making every mouthful a delightful crunch. Dipping siew yuk in the sharp, hot and pungent mustard not only brought back memories of dining at my favourite dim sum place in Hong Kong (Fook Lam Moon) but exudes authentic Cantonese culinary flair.

With a classic communal layout expected of most Chinese restaurants, Man Fu Yuan has a touch of elegance. We are also appreciative of the service rendered by the ladies who were attentive to our requests. While there was a minor hiccup when it came to billing, the situation was handled professionally with sincere apologies and immediate rectifications.

Perfect for business lunches or even an intimate dim sum affair like we experienced, it was truly one of the best dim sum meals we had in Singapore. While we continue to search for the next best dim sum restaurant, it would not be long before we return for the quality food served at Man Fu Yuan.

Overall Verdict: 8.5/10

Man Fu Yuan (满福苑)
Level 2, InterContinental Hotel Singapore, 
80 Middle Road
Singapore 188966
Tel: (+65) 6825 1008

P.S: Reservations are recommended.

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