The Dim Sum Hunt
by Shania Sukamto
点心 (dim sum), a small intricate delicacy in a humble bamboo basket that will “点” (touch) your “心” (heart). Dim sum has always been a kind of comfort food for many, myself included. The wide variety of bite-sized delicacies draws many to the restaurant doors in the afternoon, eager to enjoy some delectable dim sum with tea.
For me, eating together is quite the family affair, especially when it comes to Dim Sum. There’s something about the cacophony of loud chattering and the audacious clattering of cutlery that entices me. Besides the food, it’s also about the tradition of going to “yum cha” (drink tea and socialize) with friends & family in a garishly ornate banquet hall. Most of us today are guilty of rushing through meals, preferring to eat from a takeaway box instead of taking the time to dine out with our loved ones. Yet through stacks of sweet and savory, Dim Sum promotes communal feasting. It proves that we still can appreciate each other’s company and it instills a sense of tradition through generations.
This weekend I tried the Dim Sum at Swatow Seafood for the first time, famous for its traditional Teochew cuisine.
Instead of an order sheet, Swatow sticks to traditional pushcarts. As soon as we sat down, an array of dim sum was presented to us. The staff members were incredibly friendly and attentive.
To start off, we ordered 糯米饭 savory sticky rice. They did not stinge on the dried shrimp and chinese sausage that gave the rice it’s enticing fragrance.
Next we had the 豆腐卷 tofu skin roll which was honestly quite disappointing. It was rather dry on the inside and too densely packed with meat, lacking the texture I expected.
Siew mai was mediocre, slightly mushy even.
I was most impressed with a hybrid between the shanghainese 豆沙锅饼 red bean pancake and a goreng pisang. The smooth red bean paste was complemented by swirls of banana and together they were encased in a crispy crepe. This spin on the traditional Dim Sum was a highlight.
Another dish I thoroughly enjoyed was the 纸包鸡 chicken wrapped in paper and fried all together. The wings & drumlets were incredibly tender and marinated evenly. (Picture not available as was ferociously devoured)
Moving on to deserts, the 蛋挞 egg tarts are definitely something you must order! I appreciate the structural integrity of the buttery shell instead of the flaky starchy type of some egg tarts. It instantaneously melts in your mouth and it’s egg pudding is to. die. for. This is exactly like the ones at Tim Ho Wan but at a bargain!
All in all, Swatow was satisfying and I’ll name it as an affordable Dim Sum restaurant but not my go-to. While it was a pity that they did not nail the fundamentals, I would recommend coming here for the Old School vibes and the highlighted dishes.