Last Updated: December 21, 2020
When the restaurant you walk into presents as a plainly decorated diner, you naturally turn all attention to the food. That’s not to mention the month of anticipation prior to coming here. Ever since writing the New in town on Kampung Amin Dim Sum’s opening, I’ve been intrigued. Boldly joining the Jalan Besar dim sum scene, Kampung Amin’s all-halal menu strives, and manages to be, a compelling contender.
Kampung Amin Dim Sum is helmed by Chef Stephen, assisted by his two sons, Leon and Troy, in their first family venture. Along with a list of familiar steamed baos and fried dumplings, the menu’s extensive column of unique Chef’s Specialities are a prelude to what sets Kampung Amin apart.
The walls may seem a little bare here, but the personality isn’t. Some eateries put half their dining experience in the decor, and half in the food. Others, like Kampung Amin Dim Sum, channel all faith into the food. Like the walls, cooking and eating are no-frills affairs here. Even then, there lies an undying streak of innovation through their cooking.
The staff welcome us in with hospitable warmth, buzzing with enthusiasm to show us their best. As expected, each dish comes out neatly plated, optimised to show off its prettiest sides without preening.
If you’re here for a dim sum fix, which you should be because it’s in the name, go straight to the fried items and don’t look back.
The Dragon Ball (S$5.80), which immediately provokes amusement in me, proves much more appealing than its name might suggest. I mean, do we not remember the Slug Club Christmas party scene in Harry Potter 6 when a student throws up on Professor Snape’s shoes from eating a (different) Dragon Ball?
But I digress. Kampung Amin’s interpretation of Dragon Balls are probably more a homage to their appearance rather than the presence of raw dragon meat (yes, I firmly believe they exist). A shell of frazzled spring roll strips deep-fried to crispiness belies the delicately tender ball of chicken and prawn meat at the apex of this infrastructure.
While I could do without the smearing of mayo that comes with it, the house-made Thai Style Dip adds a wonderful sour dimension to the crispiness. In fact, this dip is made specially for the fried items, and for good reason. It brightens up the crackly dumpling skin when it begins to feel too heaty.
If deep-fried heatiness is a big deterrent to your dim sum fix, give the Signature Loh Mai Kai (with Purple Rice) (S$5.80) some deserved attention. Though I wasn’t heavily impressed by Kampung Amin Dim Sum’s selection of steamed dim sum items, the Loh Mai Kai did manage to break expectations.
As someone who lazily prefers white rice over any other roughage-heavy grain, the purple rice inspired some skepticism in me. Why make a lo mai gai with purple rice?
As it turns out, the purple rice in the Signature Loh Mai Kai comes off surprisingly soft and harmonious. It might not be my first order on my return, but at least I’m ready to concede on the merits of purple rice.
Leon is enthusiastic that I try the Deep Fried Red Snapper Fillet With Special Sauce (S$16.90), and despite having had red snapper just the day before, his eagerness has me looking forward to a rerun.
I have riskily high expectations for the special sauce, deemed remarkable enough by Kampung Amin Dim Sum to be named as it is. As I’ve said before and will always stand by, trust sauces wholeheartedly. It brings a savoury and slightly acerbic dimension to the fish in its generously chunky glamour.
Admittedly, the sauce’s saltiness can cross into an overkill on its own, though nobody said I had to guzzle it. The clean, fleshy fish meat is there to temper the brine.
In a show-stopping case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, the Crispy Kailan With Chicken Floss (S$10.90) will put all kale chips to shame. Indeed, this dish is inspired by the kale chips that Chef Stephen encountered overseas, prompting him to return with his Asian rendition.
Evenly seasoned, the crackly pieces of kailan maintain their natural bitterness, which clashes beautifully with the salt. I enjoy its bitterness, though my dining companion loftily concludes that the chicken floss saves the dish. True, true, the chicken floss provides a welcome sweetness that counters the bitter taste. To each his own.
Either way, kale chips will never hit the spot again (if they ever did), and we have the Crispy Kailan With Chicken Floss to thank for that.
Kampung Amin Dim Sum sufficiently lives up to expectations with their dim sum selection, but it’s the Chef’s Specialties that surpasses them with much aplomb. They fully justify the audaciously plain set up and competitive location by their innovative creations, such as the kailan chips.
After a good full month of settling in and getting into the swing of business, Kampong Amin Dim Sum will be finalising their menu by the end of the month. You can expect to see the same full spread across lunch and dinner hours in the new year.
As I munch, the landline begins to ring. Leon hurries over—yet another customer wants a place. A good call on their part, I say.
Expected Damage: S$10 – S$17 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Kampung Amin Dim Sum
219 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208900
219 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208900