Halal dim sum is a rarity in Singapore, but then again I would expect the purists to argue that there is no "real" dim sum if it has gone no pork - no lard anyway. For those who choose to press on with this unique mission however, an advice would be to get that passport out and be ready to cross the Causeway.
Kai Xuan Chinese Restaurant at Puteri Pacific Hotel may be a good place to start, and is one that doesn't require much travelling time as well. With the hotel situated less than a ten minute drive away from the Johor checkpoint (and with a safe carpark that I can vouch for) it is probably no less troublesome as driving from Bukit Panjang to say, Tampines or East Coast.
The Puteri Pacific Hotel has a few restaurants - Western/Asian, Chinese, Mediterranean and Italian - and at last count they were all Halal-certified, so good news for our Muslim friends out there. For our purposes today, we focus on Kai Xuan Chinese Restaurant and its attractive RM34++ dim sum à la carte buffet. It would be best to skip breakfast to save space to feast :)
Century Egg Porridge with Shredded Chicken
The Century Egg Porridge is a good and heart-warming starter for those who must have their bit of rice, but otherwise I wouldn't spend too much time or calories on this.
BBQ Chicken Chee Cheong Fun
I really enjoyed this rendition of the Chee Cheong Fun, as it not only has a slightly spicy chilli base to whet your appetite but also a sweet and juicy chicken filling that can be quite addictive. In contrast, the scallop or prawn chee cheong fun were not as delicious.
Nonya Style Steamed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf
The Steamed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf came nicely wrapped, with a hearty portion of rice and meat. Taste wise, I think I've had better ones, or it could just be that I didn't quite take to the hint of (what I believe to be so) salted egg yolk. One puzzling thing about this restaurant is that it doesn't serve the dim sum staples of fan choy or lor mai kai. Come to think of it, I should have asked why.
BBQ Chicken Buns
The BBQ Chicken Buns take after their pork-filled counterparts, the char siew baos, and turned out to be more satisfying than I would expect. Sweet and juicy fillings just like the ones used in the chee cheong fun I mentioned above.
BBQ Chicken Pie
I was curious about what the BBQ Chicken Pie would be like, but it was actually just the Halal-version to the char siew sou. Thick and flaky crust with a piping hot centre. As compared to the sweeter BBQ chicken fillings of the "funs" and the "buns", this one in particular has a slight black pepper touch to it. Not bad.
Deep-Fried Prawn Beancurd Rolls
The Deep-Fried Prawn Beancurd Rolls was a table pleaser and there were multiple orders of this. Crisp beancurd skin with small chunks of juicy prawns in the middle, I like.
Another deep-fried item, the Deep-Fried Wantons were sadly not as tasty as the prawn beancurd rolls. I think it has to do with the lack of fillings and an overdose on the wanton skin.
Pan-Fried Carrot Cake
The Pan-Fried Carrot Cake was quite disappointing. I wished it was thicker and not this thin and (overly) crispy.
Seafood Mango Rolls
Since we're on the deep-fried track, let's serve up two more. The Seafood Mango Rools presented a more unique flavour to the table, a balanced mix of sweet and savoury.
Crispy Yam Puffs
The Crispy Yam Puffs were really quite good. I liked the hot and generous ooze of sweet yam paste and yam bits inside. Delicious.
Crystal Prawn Dumpling
More popularly known as har gow, the Crystal Prawn Dumplings were delightful gems to behold, and eat! I think this is the best har gow that I've eaten so far, with the skin being adequately thin and the prawns inside fantastically fresh and juicy. Relish every bite!
Fresh Scallop Dumpling
As the name suggests, the Fresh Scallop Dumpling came out fresh, but somehow the scallops weren't as sweet and juicy as the prawns from the har gow.
A dim sum staple, the Siew Mai was pretty good with a meaty filling.
Steamed Shark's Fin "Siew Mai" Dumpling
If you mix dumplings and siew mais together, it would not be surprising to come up with a Siew Mai Dumpling as your product. This was exactly what Kai Xuan has done, and with some success.
Homemade Fish Balls
I was wondering what difference would Homemade Fish Balls make (as compared to the factory-produced ones), but the taste and texture was quite distinct. It's fresher and more "chewy" that's for sure, and certainly less "artificial"-tasting as well. Tastes great with the Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Steamed Chicken Wing in Black Bean Sauce
The Steamed Chicken Wing in Black Bean Sauce wasn't exactly my cup of tea, and it would also have been better if it was full wing parts than chopped up parts.
Deep-Fried Sesame Balls
One of my favourites. The Deep-Fried Sesame Balls arrived warm on the outside with a piping hot inside, nice! The sesame paste was sweet, smooth and rice, all that you can ask for really.
The Shanghai Pancake was quite satisfying as well. The flaky (but not crumbling) crust added a crisp texture to the otherwise sweet and smooth bean paste. Lovely.
Crispy Egg Tarts
The Crispy Egg Tarts taste better than they look, cute as they may be. I really liked the buttery crust and egg-filled centre, and if I had space I would have gone for multiple servings of these heh. Greedy me.
Chilled Almond Beancurd with Longan
Simple dessert, here's something cooling to soothe the throats after all that deep-fried stuff surely.
Chilled Honeydew with Sago
If you like something with a slightly milky base, this could do for you.
Finally, a small glass of Mango Pudding to wrap up this really long post. All-in-all, pretty good dim sum with many hits (and admittedly, some misses), but if it's going to be any better the restaurant had better roll out my favourite fan choy and lor mai kai.
RM34++ per person.
Puteri Pacific Hotel,
Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim,
Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
Beside The Kotaraya and 5mins walk from City Square.
Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.