East Bistro – Dim Sum & Pao Fan by the former head chef of Lei Garden
Tony Wong, who has over 2 decades of experience as the former head chef of Lei Garden Singapore, is at the helm of East Bistro, which has rocketed to fame in recent months. East Bistro is famous for their exquisite dim sum and 泡饭 (pao fan).
You might think that East Bistro was located in the east, but it is, in fact, located in Sembawang. The simple and modest interior was charming and had a homey feel.
Other than the famous 东师傅催泡饭 (Chef special – “Pao Fan”, item #601, $6.80 for small), we also ordered a medley of their dim sum dishes which included the 香煎萝卜糕 (Pan fried radish cake, item #111, $4 for 3 pieces), 花菇皇叉烧包(“mushroom” char siew bao, item #103, $3.60 for 2), 四川口水鸡 (Chilled chicken in spicy sauce, item #203, $6) and the 黄金脆虾球(Deep fried prawn with salted egg sauce, item 310, $12 for small).
Despite my bias against Teochew-style porridge (I prefer the Cantonese version), I have to admit that the 泡饭 was truly one of a kind. Remember to get your phone or camera ready before this dish arrives. Once the porridge arrived at our table, the server decisively threw fried rice crisps into the porridge and it started to crackle, much to our amusement. Since we were all still daydreaming, we missed the shot. Don’t be fooled by its watery texture and messy appearance. As you stir the dish, you’ll notice an aroma coming from the supremely rich and flavorful broth. The rice grains were soft and the addition of sesame seeds helped to enhance the fragrance of the dish. I also liked that the fried rice crisps had a contrasting texture to the softer rice grains.
In spite of the remarkable reviews of their 萝卜糕 (radish cake), we were not impressed by it. Despite the lightly-singed appearance, the radish cake had a good amount of flavor bolstered by the addition hei be (dried prawns) in the dish. While I did find it a little starchy, the essence of the fragrant radish cake was still intact. While the radish cake embodied the qualities of a good radish cake, it lacked the wow factor.
We also had the “mushroom” char siew bao which looked like two oversized Shitake mushrooms served in a traditional bamboo steamer. The bun was extremely soft and fluffy, unlike any other char siew bao you might find in Singapore. Bite into the airy bun to reveal a sweet and moist char siew filling, which we could use more of. However, I liked how the filling doesn’t soak through the bun. This was probably my favourite item of the lot.
Last but not least, the deep-fried prawns with salted egg sauce were fresh, crunchy, and crispy. However, we felt that they could also have been more generous with the salted egg sauce. Regardless, the deep-fried prawns were still crazy addictive. Priced at $12, this dish did not disappoint.
It also wasn’t difficult to notice friendly head chef Tony Wong sauntering around the restaurant to ask if the food was all right. If you speak fluent Cantonese or Teochew, you’ll soon find yourself deep in conversation with him as he is very 热情 (enthusiastic). Seeing how easy-going he was, we asked him for a picture and he gladly obliged.
To cater to the local palate, East Bistro’s menu also includes tze char dishes like 螃蟹脆米泡饭／米粉 (Crispy rice/rice noodle with crab in soup, item #409), everyone’s favorite虾酱鸡中翼(Chicken wings in prawn paste aka Har Jiong Gai, item #303), 麦片虾(Cereal Prawn, item #403), 马来风光(Sambal Kang Kong, item #501) and even a 星斑炉 (Red Garoupa Steamboat, item #511). We went on a weekday afternoon to avoid the crowd but I hear you’ll have to call in to reserve a table if you intend to go on a weekend. I’m sure you’ll enjoy their hospitality and the good food.
Address: 10 Jalan Tampang Singapore 758954 (Opposite Sembawang Shopping Centre)
Phone: 6752 4844
Opening Hours: 11am to 3pm, 5pm to 10pm (Monday to Friday) and 9am to 3pm, 5pm-10pm (Saturday and Sunday). Closed On Tuesdays.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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