Asked which meal was the most special while we were in Singapore recently, and the answer can easily be the variety of hand-made dim sum at Wah Lok Restaurant at Carlton Hotel in the city center. Singapore is not short of dim sum opportunities – from old-school, red-carpeted venues, to hip and hyped places. But when it comes to the real things and the original creations, the locals would – in a perfect unison – point to this place where some items are so hot and popular that you will need to call ahead and make reservations.
Price: $$$ (dim sum average price S$7.5 ++)
Above: Chili crab spring rolls created by Master Chef Yiu Cheuk Yin back in the year 2000 to pay tribute to Singapore, his adopted hometown and the entailed new opportunities. Only 1,000 rolls are made weekly, so call ahead and reserve.
All dim sum at Wah Lok are hand-made by the 58-year-old Master Chef Yiu Cheuk Yin – a Hong Kong native who moved to Singapore back in 1986. As many other things these days, dim sum that we enjoy can be mass-produced, machine-made, frozen for eternity and then steamed, reawakened, when ordered. The industrialized foods, while proved to be more agreeable to today’s fast-paced and busy life, are always short in terms of taste and texture. And most importantly, the crucial link between the chefs and the eaters. And that’s why, after all these years and multitudes of new places, Wah Lok is still number one in the heart of discerning Singaporean foodies.
Above: Red Phoenix – the red dumpling got its hue from red koji or Chinese red rice yeast. The filling is dried vegetables, preserved reddish, dried shrimp, chicken and mushroom. And steamed crab meat and egg white dumplings.
So, back in the year 2000, after spending a good quarter of his life in Singapore, Master Chef Yiu decided to pay tribute to his adopted hometown and the new given opportunities by creating new food item that no one has ever done before. The result is this much-coveted ‘Chili Crab Spring Rolls’ that has become a sensational eat for the locals since then.
Above: Deep-fried yam rolls with seafood slow-frying makes them look like a delicate bird nest, steamed prawn dumplings and mini egg tarts.
“Singapore is known for the Merlion, chicken rice, Bak Kut Teh and chili crabs,” explained Chef Yiu Cheuk Yin. “I picked the chili crabs because I think it would make an interesting fusion item good enough for people to enjoy together in a round of dim sum environment.” Chef Yiu made his own spice, cook the crab, extract the meat and then roll it in wrappers.
Like everything else in Wah Lok’s dim sum menu, all steps are hand-made, hence only a maximum capacity of 1,000 rolls per week. The best way to make sure you’ll be able to get some on your table is to call in advance and reserve.
Above: Baked BBQ pork buns (another top-seller, made in limited amounts daily), Baked Custard Buns, light, soft and creamy.
Regular clients at Wah Lok will also order another of their favourites: polo pao or baked BBQ pork buns which are pork buns topped with crispy skim-milk, sugar and butter crust – adding to the crusty sweet textures. This delicious buns – also hand-made – are also available in limited amount. During weekdays, about 200 buns are made, Saturdays about 400 while Sundays at maximum 500 buns are made. Orders must be eaten in only and no ta pao (takeaway) is allowed.
Above: Wah Lok’s famous Black Sesame Rolls – with super thin layers packed with black sesame flavours. This dessert made it to the Michelin Guide 2017’s gala dinner.
Here is their black sesame rolls. No neatly delicate and perfect. The texture reminds me of Thai dessert – kanom chun (layered dessert) made from glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. This black sesame roll is also made of coconut milk and cow milk. It is in perfectly thin layer, neatly cut and rolled into a conch form – making it a great dessert to stretch and slurp. Delicious.
Above: Master Chef Yiu Cheuk Yin at Wah Lok Restaurant, Carlton Hotel Singapore.
Open daily, T +65 6311 8188 / +65 6311 8189 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mondays to Saturdays
Lunch served from 11.30am to 2.30pm
Dinner served from 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Sundays & Public Holidays
Lunch served from 11am to 2.30pm
Dinner served from 6.30pm to 10.30pm