We tried the worst-rated halal dim sum in KL

If I had to find a weakness, it might be my love for dim sum. The options seem limitless, and given their bite-sized nature, I find myself relishing every bite. It seems I’m not alone in this sentiment, as locating the worst-rated halal dim sum proved to be quite a challenge. Eventually, my quest led me to Santai Yamcha Dim Sum in One Utama.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Store front

It holds a 3.5-star rating with 146 reviews (at the time of writing). You might be curious as to why this is considered subpar. Well, when compared to other dim sum establishments like Dolly Dim Sum and Din Tai Fung, boasting nearly perfect 5-star ratings with over 1k reviews, the contrast becomes quite evident.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Ew

Reading through the reviews, many say that the restaurant has poor hygiene and inconsistent food standards. Surely it can’t be that bad, right? As I sat down at my table, I was greeted by a cockroach leg on the chair next to me. I gagged silently and bravely ordered anyway.

What I tried at Santai Yamcha Dim Sum

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Prawn CCF

Opting for my usual choice, I started with the Prawn Cheong Fun (RM16.80). Upon its arrival, it struck me as somewhat strange, particularly on the right side where it appeared lumpy. Despite the odd presentation, my optimism persisted, fueled by the generous serving of prawns.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Prawn CCF action shot

The cheong fun, however, deviated from my preference as it turned out exceptionally thick. While the thickness isn’t necessarily a drawback, I tend to favour a thinner variety. This thickness contributed to uneven cooking—  the outer layer was soft and succulent, but the inner layer remained undercooked, exhibiting a slimy texture that proved challenging to grasp with chopsticks.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Prawn CCF action shot 2

Saturated in soy sauce, the dish absorbed the flavour deeply, resulting in a pronounced umami taste on the outer layer. While this flavour profile might deter some, I found it acceptable, until I reached the inner layer, prompting me to abandon the dish entirely.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Hargao

I then shifted my focus to the Steam Prawn Dumplings “Hargao” (RM12.80 for 3 pieces). Straight off the bat, it looked appetising. After the cheong fun fiasco, I lowered my expectations down a notch. 

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Hargao action shot

The outer layer of the dumpling skin was firm and tough, which made it quite difficult to bite into. Instead of prawn meat, the inner layer consisted of a whole prawn. It tasted okay but lacked a wow factor to it. It was clearly not handmade— the trimmings of the outer layer of dumpling skin are incredibly neat and tidy. This may put some dim sum lovers off, especially foodies like me, who prefer dim sum being handmade to have an authentic flavour.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Custard Lava Bao

Even more disappointed, I took a chance with the Custard Lava Bao (RM12.80 for 2 pieces) decorated with funny eyes. The yellow bun appeared overly vibrant, hinting that food colouring might have been added for that effect.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Custard Lava Bao action shot

The skin was firm and not easily torn, as compared to other custard buns from higher-rated dim sum shops. Not wanting to spill the golden custard, I tore it in half instead. Disappointing.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Custard Lava bao action shot 2

Custard buns are typically expected to have generous, juicy, and overflowing custard. In my family, we even joke about anticipating the custard dripping across our chin due to its sheer amount and deliciousness when enjoying these buns. This was not the case for this sad custard bun, where I was met with a mouthful of dough, and a hint of custard. Clumpy custard.

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The portion of custard inside the bun was nothing short of pitiful— it was neither runny nor yellow. Instead, it was a putrid brownish-yellow, clinging onto the inside of the custard bun and refusing to ooze out of the bite. After another sad attempt at digesting it, I decided not to vandalise the cute little bun any further and left it to be cleaned up by the waiters.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Mee tarik

I also ordered the Dry Mee Tarik with Minced Chicken & Popcorn Chicken Combo (RM19.80) to see if other dishes here could salvage the dim sum. Spoiler alert— it was equally as bad.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Mee tarik action shot

The noodles were cold and were still clumped together while I mixed the noodles with the poached egg, which required me to put some elbow grease into mixing it. After taking a bite, I could tell it was a pack of instant noodles that they just simmered in hot water. The tough texture of the noodles made it hard to chew, and to be frank, was flavourless.

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Mee tarik action shot 2

The chicken that came with the set was split into salted chicken and soy garlic chicken. The former tasted akin to fried chicken from the side of the road, it tasted overly salty with MSG, which made me very thirsty. The soy garlic chicken possessed an umami taste, which I liked, but had a weird aftertaste. As I continued to eat the chicken, the umami taste quickly became overwhelming.

I decided I had enough.

Final thoughts

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum - Final thoughts

In general, I think that the food at Santai Yumcha Dim Sum is likely prepackaged and simply reheated before being served to customers. While this practice may not be a culinary offence, it may not sit well with dim sum enthusiasts. Considering the price and the impact on my wallet, the disparity between the food quality and the cost is too significant for me to contemplate a return visit.

Expected damage: RM12 – RM35 per pax

We tried the worst-rated Penang asam laksa in KL

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 2 / 5

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum

LG, Foodstreet, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, 122, Central Park Avenue, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia 47800

Price
Our Rating 2/5

Santai Yamcha Dim Sum

LG, Foodstreet, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, 122, Central Park Avenue, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia 47800

Telephone: +603 7495 9093
Operating Hours: 10am - 10pm (Daily)
Telephone: +603 7495 9093

Operating Hours: 10am - 10pm (Daily)
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