From the delicious eats to the bustling streets, there’s a lot to be missed about the metropolitan cityscape of Hong Kong. The travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong might have burst indefinitely and it’s not (yet) on the list of Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL), but in the meantime, you can pop by these Hong Kong-style cha chaan tengs (tea houses), bakeries, and restaurants in Singapore to satiate your cravings and wanderlust.
For a seriously authentic experience, make your way to Legendary Hong Kong, located in the “Mongkok”-inspired district of Jurong Point mall. Decor-wise, it’s got all the old-school vibes of authentic tea houses, from the neon signboards to the mosaic tiles and fluorescent lighting.
You won’t find Hong Kong’s famed roast goose here, but there’s the specialty London Roast Duck as well as roasted meats that are must-tries. The menu here is extensive, with everything from the quintessential golden polo bun to dim sum, thick toasts, wanton noodles, and fried rice. And they’re all whipped up by a group of established chefs.
Legendary Hong Kong is at Provisional Unit #03-80, Jurong Point 2 Shopping Center, 63 Jurong West Central 3, Singapore 648331. Visit its website for more information.
Over in Hong Kong, the beloved Tsui Wah outlets are more reminscent of the cha chaan teng or teahouse, but the ones you’ll find in Singapore are a touch more elevated.
Highlights include the crowd-pleasing condensed milk buns that are buttery and addictive, as well as the signature Pork Bun with a tender patty, and the Kagoshima-Style Braised Pork Cartilage with Tossed Instant Noodles.
Also worth mentioning are its Borscht with Thick Toast (a cha chaan teng classic) and Braised Abalone Rice with Diced Chicken and Kale, both made using original Tsui Wah recipes.
Tsui Wah is at #01-38 Jem, #03-230 Jewel Changi Airport, and #01-03, Block A, Clarke Quay, 3 River Valley Rd.
New kid on the block is Friends Cafe, a cha chaan teng-inspired eatery in Yishun with retro fittings and a Cantonese menu.
It’s opened by a couple from Hong Kong, who designed the space to resemble a tea house from the sixties – you’ll find mosaic tiles underfoot, together with booth seats sporting wooden benches as well as glass-topped tables with the menus slid underneath.
Foodwise, there are the usual cha chaan teng suspects of thick French toast, spiced pork cube noodles, and black pepper pork chop rice, with crowd favourites being the savoury satay sliced beef noodles, and the curry fishballs.
Friends Cafe is at 60 Springside Walk, #01-18, Singapore 786020.
Behind the kitchen is Hong Kong chef Tsang Tak Ching, who had a stint as a sous chef at Hong Kong’s Lei Garden several years before coming to Singapore.
House specialities include HK Fresh Shrimp Wanton Noodles, Iberico Pork Char Siew, Crispy Pork Belly, Iberico Pork Chop Rice with Shallot Oil, Sweet and Sour Pork and Steamed Kampong Chicken in Lotus Leaf. A must for tea fans is the HK Style Milk Tea, made with Black & White Evaporated Filled Milk, the preferred brand of Hong Kong cha chaan tengs.
The interiors, however, wouldn’t quite transport you to the streets of Hong Kong, save for the neon lights decorating the walls. Instead, the space is all contemporary and industrial chic.
Pi Food is at 9 Penang Road, #01-18, Singapore 238459.
Started by Chef Mak Kwai Pui in Hong Kong and known as one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants, Tim Ho Wan landed on our shores in 2013, and has since spawned multiple outlets across the island.
Crowd pleasers include the Signature Baked BBQ Pork Buns, wok-fried Radish Cake, chilli oil and vinegar dumplings, and the light and airy ma lai gao or steamed sponge cake.
Tim Ho Wan is at multiple locations including Plaza Singapura, Suntec City and Tampines 1. Visit its website for a list of outlets.
This Hong Kong-style cafe first opened in Midview City in Sin Ming, but has since opened two more eateries at TripleOne Somerset and Capitol Singapore.
For a light classic snack, go for the Crispy Bun with Condensed Milk that is great with its Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea or Yuen Yeung. Other highlights include Curry Beef Brisket Rice, Baked Tomato Pork Chop Rice, and Baked Cheese Spaghetti Bolognese, as well as the simple yet comforting Century Egg & Lean Meat Congee.
So Good Char Chan Teng is at #01-17/18 Capitol Singapore, #01-121B Midview City, and #01-16 TripleOne Somerset.
Kam’s Roast is a local outpost of the one-Michelin-starred Hong Kong restaurant, Kam’s Roast Goose. Due to import issues, you won’t find roast goose here, but you can savour its array of roast duck and meats, which also come served with rice or noodles.
Dithering over what to order? Get the signature Roast Platter, which comes with four types of authentic Hong Kong-style roast meats; roast duck, soy chicken, barbequed pork char siew, and crispy pork.
Kam’s Roast is at #02 – 210 Jewel Changi Airport, and Kam’s Roast Express is at #B4-03/04 Ion Orchard. Visit its website for more information.
Famous Hong Kong bakery Kee Wah (you might recognise it by its adorable panda cookies) is opening the doors to its first-ever permanent outlet on our island.
It’ll be located at Ion Orchard and is slated to open in the first week of November with products that are “100 per cent made in Hong Kong”. Its menu has yet to be confirmed but our fingers are crossed that it’ll feature the signature almond cookies, buttery egg rolls and pineapple shortcakes.
One of the must-buy gifts from a visit to Hong Kong is the cookies from the famed Jenny Bakery, with its instantly recognisable teddy bear tins. Rich with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, the addictive cookies come in variations like shortbread, coffee flower, butter, and macadamia chocolate.
But fans here don’t have to travel abroad to get their fix. There’s no retail store (it closed its retail store in Ang Mo Kio) but Jenny Bakery’s cookies can be ordered online, or bought in-store at Tangs Vivocity and Tangs at Tang Plaza.
Tai Cheong Bakery opened to much fanfare when it first landed on our shore, drawing snaking queues for its scrumptious egg tarts with crusts that are buttery and cookie-like. Besides the original, you can also sink your teeth into pandan as well as durian and cheese tarts. It also serves up other classic Hong Kong confectionery, like bolo buns, wife biscuits, coconut tarts, and chicken pies.
Following the success of its first outlet in Takashimaya, it unveiled a cha chaan teng in Holland Village, doling out classics with a twist like Three Coloured Silky Egg with Rice and Scrambled Egg Toast Stack with Chicken Chop.
Today, it has several bakery counters across the island.
Visit its website for a list of outlets.
Brought in by TV broadcaster Robert Chua, who also brought Tim Ho Wan and Kam’s Roast to Singapore, Joyluck Teahouse is a chain of kiosks that doles out the best of Hong Kong snacks, from egg tarts to bolo buns (pineapple buns) and curry fish balls to the quintessential milk tea.
For its offerings, it’s partnered with three Hong Kong F&B establishments; Hoover Cake Shop for its egg tarts boasting flaky multi-layered puff pastry crusts, Kam Kee Cafe for pineapple buns and milk tea, and Tak Hing Fishball Company for curry fish balls made using fresh, additive-free fish paste.
Joyluck Teahouse is at multiple locations including #B4-61 Ion Orchard, #B1-03/03A Junction 8, #B1-K25 Bugis Junction and 274 South Bridge Road.
Founded in 1920 in Yuen Long, Hong Kong, the century-old Hang Heung Bakery made its way to Singapore last year with a takeaway store at Ion Orchard’s basement that sports its signature red hue.
The brand’s most popular confectionery are on offer here, including wife biscuits, red bean paste cakes, mung bean cakes, and egg rolls, all of which are freshly baked on the daily and boast flaky crusts. There’s also a new lava custard cake that boasts a oozy centre.
Hang Heung Bakery is at #B4-33 Ion Orchard, #B1-68 Raffles City, and #B1-K32 Paragon. Visit its website to order online or for more information.