The variety and sheer number of dim sum restaurants in Singapore is a good indication of the depth and diversity of Singapore foodscape. Dim sum in Singapore can be enjoyed in a luxurious Michelin-starred restaurant like Summer Pavilion, a hip creative restaurant like Janice Wong or in one of the many food courts and HDB kopitiams. For a uniquely Singapore dim sum experience, a visit to Swee Choon Tim Sum is probably one of the best options.
Located in a row of shophouses in Jalan Besar, Swee Choon Tim Sum has been serving dim sum in Singapore even before the nation gained its independence. It is especially popular with the late-night crowd as it operates from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am. Its popularity has only grown over the years as it has taken on more space but long queues can still be seen outside the restaurant every evening. Recently, Swee Choon Tim Sum started to open for lunch. There is no queue to get in for lunch but the restaurant can get crowded on some days even at lunchtime.
In many ways, Swee Choon looks like a fifty-five year old restaurant and many things are still done the old school way. There is nothing pretentious about the place and the focus is solely on food. The dim sum are handmade on the premises by experienced staff.
Old & New – Dining Space
Swee Choon might have timeless appeal but it is definitely not stuck in time. It has quite successfully introduced new and modern elements while retaining the good old things. One section of the restaurant (the photos above) have a more contemporary decor. Other sections of the restaurant would look like coffeeshops of old (photos below) except that they are air-conditioned. For an authentic old Singapore al fresco dining experience, go to Swee Choon the evening and ask for a table in the back alley.
Old & New – Menu
Swee Choon’s menu is also old world-new world. The age old dim sum items like siew mai and chicken claws are on the menu as are more contemporary items like chilled coconut pudding. Trendy health drinks like acai juice are also available.
You can place your older the old fashioned way by using a traditional order chit. However, the staff actively encourage customers to use the very modern digital ordering system.
Essentially you use your mobile phone to scan a QR Code to open a webpage which has Swee Choon’s Menu. Click on the desired items to add them to the shopping cart, confirm and send; and soon the food will be served to your table. We tried it and it was quite simple to use and the food arrived quite promptly without anything amiss.
Swee Choon Tim Sum
We visited Swee Choon for lunch recently and ordered a variety of dim sum. As you can see from the photos there was nothing fancy in terms of the presentation or in the shapes or colours of the dim sum.
The char siew soh ($2.80) with flaky pastries and not too much filling was nice.
The Swee Choon Big Boa ($1.80) would be a recommended item. The soft fluffy boa skin was of the right thickness and the generous filling was moist and tasty.
The lor mai kai ($2.50), glutinous rice with chicken, was not bad. The glutinous rice was not too sticky. On its own it might be a tad bland but with some chilli sauce it was enjoyable.
The siew mai ($2) was fairly standard stuff – good enough but would not stand out in any way. The same could be said of the bean curd prawn roll ($3), though we liked the very crispy exterior.
The Signature Swee Choon Mee-Suah Kueh ($2.40) did not disappoint. The deep-fried mee sua (vermicelli) cake had an interesting textured exterior which was crispy. Inside was tightly packed strands of white soft mee suah. It was a unique dim sum item which was tasty and filling. A must try item at Swee Choon.
Orh Nee or yam paste with pumpkin ($3.80) was a good dessert. It was not too sweet. The texture was a bit coarser than the usual orh nee we had been used too but it was nice. The small pieces of pumpkin, gingko nuts and a generous drizzle of coconut milk added contrasts and complexity. We would order this again.
On the whole, we enjoyed the reasonably priced dim sum of Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant. We like the extensive menu which with more than just the usual Cantonese dim sum items. We think Swee Choon offers real local dim sum experience. To avoid the crowd, lunchtime would be a good time to visit but making reservation would still be a good idea. Swee Choon Tim Sum has a takeaway counter and now delivery service has also been introduced.
Located in an area with haphazard charm where you will find heritage houses with fine Chinese baroque details as well as nocturnal activities not mentioned in tourism brochures, Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant has become a sort of a tourist attraction itself. Eating there in the evening should be an interesting experience. Whether you are a visitor or have been living in Singapore all your life, a meal at Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant would not be a bad addition to your to do list.
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
Swee Choon Tim Sum
Jalan Besar Singapore 208882
Equiry Hotline : 6225 7788
Office Number : 6294 0070
Mon – Sat : 11.00 am – 2.30 pm; 6.00 pm – 6.00 am
Sun & Public Holidays : 10.00 am – 3.00 pm; 6.00 pm – 6.00 am
Closed on Tuesdays
Nearby MRT Station: Jalan Besar
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog