Last Updated: January 10, 2018
Swee Choon is one of Singapore’s oldest established dim sum restaurants, having more than 40 years of heritage. What was originally a single unit shop-house at Jalan Besar has grown to occupy 4 connecting shop-houses and even has tables in the back alley.
I first came to know Swee Choon years ago because it opened till 6am, and was the perfect supper place for drunk party-goers. Strangely, the traditional dim sum model has always been a morning affair, but Swee Choon Dim Sum has managed to turn it around, only opening for business at 6pm instead. After clubbing, Swee Choon is fairly accessible from town and thus caters to the midnight supper gang. Families and youngsters alike patronize this popular spot along Jalan Besar.
If you haven’t heard of Swee Choon, you haven’t clubbed hard enough in Singapore.
Dim sum is known for ordering in variety so that everybody can share, so there’s going to be loads of dim sum pictures coming up. I’m only highlighting some of the best dim sums I liked at Swee Choon, as there’s just too much too list.
Yam Paste with Pumpkin and Ginko Nut ($3.80). Yes, it’s a dessert but it was the first to arrive on our table. It’s a coffee shop, so don’t expect Swee Choon to serve dishes according to course order. Yam paste was at the thickness I like, not overly gluey, just the right sweetness and the portion was not too much to get jelat (sick of it). Coconut milk made it very fragrant as well.
Swee Choon Mee Suah Kueh ($2.00). This is Swee Choon’s signature carrot kueh mounted with Mee Suah then fried. Crispy mee suah on the top paired with the soft insides of the kueh makes the bite more multi-dimensional, rather than the usual carrot cake.
Red Bean Paste Pancake ($4.80). Red Bean paste has always been a childhood favourite of mine, which makes this pancake awesome. Swee Choon makes the pancake skin thin enough so that there is a good ratio of red bean paste to crispy pancake dough. A balanced bite of red bean and pancake with each rectangle piece. Perfection.
Prawn and Banana fritter ($2.80). Combining prawn and bananas might have sounded crazy at first, but this is a wonderful dish. Crispy fried, after biting through the crispy exterior you taste the soft banana flesh, then hit the firmer prawn meat. Banana and prawns lend a sweetness that oddly works together, making the fried dough more exciting.
Char Siew Pau ($1.80). Some places serve mini char siew pau for ants, but Swee Choon sticks to the big manly classic version. A classic dim sum order, you can’t say you’ve had dim sum without ordering char siew pau. Sweet pork filling and a pau skin that is bouncy and soft.
Har Kow ($2.40). I’m slightly irked here because Har Kaw used to be served in FOURS since the cavemen invented dim sum, but now it comes in TWOs at Swee Choon. Same goes for the Siew Mai. A good Har kaw is all in the skin’s recipe, which isn’t bad at Swee Choon, but I think Tim Ho Wan does it better.
This is just one of the subtle ways that Swee Choon tries to increase price, as well as serving some french fry looking, weird turnip appetizer ($1) at the start of the meal.
Shanghai Xiao Long Pau ($4.00). Thank goodness the Xiao Long Pau still comes in fours. Swee Choon’s Xiao Long Pau is really good, with a firm skin that doesn’t just break and spill precious soup all over with merely a touch. You have to nip it firmly with chopsticks to break apart, then slurp up the soup and eat the Xiao Long Bao. Dip with vinegar and get some ginger strips in as well.
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Fried Prawn Dumpling with Mayonnaise ($4.20). I’m perplexed that some dishes come in TWOs, some in FOURs and this one here comes in THREES. Gosh stick to some consistency. I like these fried prawn dumplings better than the Har Kow. Swee Choon’s dough for fried dim sum is consistently good. They fry upon order and everything comes crispy hot. The mayonnaise adds a bit of wetness to take away the monotonous fried dryness.
Pork ribs with black bean sauce ($2.80). Another cost cutting measure can be seen in the pork ribs here, where they hide yam cubes below the pork ribs. HA! Thought I wouldn’t notice did ya. I’ve been eating pork ribs with black bean sauce dim sum for over 20 years and no, yam has never been in the recipe. Although the pork and sauce does taste very tender and delicious, the amount of meat is pretty abysmal. I’d skip this dish as its not worth it.
Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun ($3.60). This here, is the Pièce de résistance of Swee Choon. You must try it. The crusty, sweet and salted egg yolk filling, flowing with their soft pau is truly a delight and one of the best salted egg yolk custard bun I’ve had in Singapore. None of that raw eggy taste, the custard is very well made.
Overall, I feel that Swee Choon Dim Sum has maintained it’s standards through the many years, but has raised prices subtly. This is understandable in the rising rent and costs of ingredients in Singapore. The amount of dim sum variety here is also amazing, even serving some sze char dishes if you oddly came to Swee Choon Dim Sum NOT for Dim Sum.
Swee Choon Dim Sum is still one of Singapore’s oldest and most successful dim sum restaurants that won’t break a hole in your wallet. Fried dim sum dishes are still fried a la minute even with the increase in crowd and not pre-made. It embodies our local taste through the years, and is comparable to Hong Kong Michelin star dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan.
Related Guide: Best Dim Sums in Singapore History- The Ultimate Guide
*Opens from 6pm to 6am, no reservation needed if you are willing to sit outside