How long is the queue at Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard for their Hong Kong egg tarts, bolo bao (pineapple buns) and fish balls? Is it worth queuing for them? I headed to level B4 of Ion Orchard to check it out.
I had seen the photos of the long queues at Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard (see Facebook). They open early at 9 am and so I made my way there at 9.30 am on a weekday. The first thing I learnt was that Joy Luck Teahouse at Ion is not a cafe. It is a kiosk selling the food and drinks for takeaway.
The second thing I learnt was that if you see a short queue in front of the kiosk, it may not mean that life is good. The real queue may be forming down the corridor. A large holding area had been prepared at the atrium further up. Judging by the ropes and ushers already on duty, they were expecting a large crowd. You can see from the Facebook photos that half the hall can be filled up. Fortunately for me, at 9.30am the queue was short and I finished my purchases within 10 minutes. I was told by one of the attendants that the queue may stretch to hours later in the day.
What to buy at Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard
The menu at Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard is a simple one. The food items are curry fishballs from Tak Hing, Hoover Cake Shop’s egg tarts (with a cookie or pastry base) and Kam Kee pineapple buns with different types of fillings. I bought one from each category to try. But none of the drinks as they would be too messy to handle as a takeaway.
Egg Tarts, Pineapple Buns and Fishballs
The packaging used for takeaway did not look very appealing. That was when I started to make comparisons with another Hong Kong establishment known for egg tarts and bolo bao – Tai Cheong Bakery. We have bought takeaway from their outlets at Holland Village and Novena Square and their packaging was better by comparison.
Hoover Egg Tarts
We bought the Hoover egg tarts with pastry base ($2.30). There was an opening promotion of 10% discount off all the products. The egg tarts from Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard were good. The light crumbly base was the best part of the tarts. These were well-made HK style egg tarts but (based on the huge popular following) I was expecting something more distinctive.
Kam Kee Pineapple Buns (Bo Lo Bao)
I realised that the bolo bao ($2) that I bought were “original” ones without any fillings. I had mistakenly thought the original ones would have char siew fillings. But that was not the case. If you want baos with fillings – they are available with luncheon meat, kaya or butter. These are nice bolo baos, but not outstanding. I think the best ones in Singapore we have had were at Wah Lok restaurant.
Tak Hing Curry Fishballs @ Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard
Each cup contains 6 fishballs coated with a layer of curry sauce. The fishballs themselves were quite average – perhaps a bit denser than the usual Singapore fishballs. The secret weapon is the curry sauce. This was the one item that stood out that day. The curry is not spicy. It reminded me of the sauce used in Japanese curry rice. It was the item that made me want to eat more of that day.
Overall, I did not think that the egg tarts or bolo bao were significantly different from those in other good HK style restaurants or bakeries. I don’t think I would queue for those. I might be tempted to join a queue for the curry fishballs, provided it is not going to be more than 15 minutes.
Joy Luck Teahouse Ion Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
Opening Hours: 9 am – 10 pm
Nearby MRT Station: Orchard
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog