While we love dim sum as a late night supper, it is still traditionally a breakfast affair. Over at Zi Yean Bistro, they serve dim sum all through the day at extremely affordable prices.
Taking inspiration from the name — “Zi Yean” meaning natural in Cantonese — their chefs go light-handed on the salt and oil to best present the natural flavours of the ingredients, a big contrast to most of the dim sum stalls around town. We definitely appreciated the more delicate flavours found here.
It’s also worth pointing out that they have a weekday dim sum special order, where dine-in customers can enjoy plates and baskets of most dim sum for S$2.50 each from 8am to 11am. If morning is a bit of a hard affair, not to worry as they also have a weekday dim sum offer hour, where they offer 20% off on all items from 3pm to 6pm for dine-in customers.
We had to order the quintessential Xiao Long Bao (S$5), Egg Tarts (S$3) and Salted Yolk Custard Bun (S$3.60), but also their quirky headliners — Cream of Yam in Watermelon Bun (S$3.60), Steam Black Truffle Mushroom Bun (S$5).
Like any good Xiao Long Bao, the ones served here had delicately thin skin that just managed to hold all the meaty goodness and soup in it. Even though we left it out for a while before eating them, the slightly drier skin didn’t hamper our enjoyment of the meaty aroma and lightly seasoned soup. A little bit of vinegar and ginger was all it took to lift the dish even more.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of any custard bun is that ooze from the very moment you tear it open, and Zi Yean didn’t disappoint.
The smooth creamy white exterior of the bun was almost too perfect to tear apart. However, the taste of the custard itself had a distinct lack of salted yolk taste and was far too sweet and grainy for our liking.
Another sweet bun would be the Cream of Yam in Watermelon bun – an odd sounding combination, but a visually appealing one indeed. The green bun had little patterns on it resembling watermelon rinds, and when torn open, the yam filling sported little flecks of sesame seeds in it, looking very much like a watermelon itself.
Tasting very much like Teo Chew yam paste desserts, we were divided on whether we liked it or not as the flavour profile was so subjective to each individual palate.
The Steamed Black Truffle Mushroom Bun had us confused for a split second. When the basket was placed on our tables, we were greeted with the sight of what appeared to be regular mushrooms. Consider it artisanal dim sum, the bun was cleverly moulded and presented as a mushroom.
When torn open, we caught a whiff of the delicate truffle aroma, but the taste of the mushrooms was too strong and overwhelmed our tastebuds. Apart from the heavy mushroom taste and a slight hint of black pepper, there wasn’t much else to it.
Their egg tarts, on the other hand, were a mouthful of creamy delight. Rich in the milky egg taste that we all know and love, it had just the right amount of sweetness to it, and while the flaky crust was firm enough to hold everything together without breaking apart, it all but melted in our mouths upon the first bite.
Our only regret was not taking more time with savouring them, given the small size of the egg tarts.
While the contemporary twists felt a bit too gimmicky to hold water, their familiar classics were definitely worth having. Just a 3 to 5 minutes walk away from the station, Zi Yean Bistro is a must try if you’re ever in the area.
Zi Yean Bistro
56 Lengkok Bahru, #01-443
Daily: 8am – 10pm
Nearest Station: Redhill