Thursday, June 11, 2015

Learning about Yum Cha / Dim Sum Culture with Children @ Red Star Restaurant

When I was young, one of my favourite family bonding activities was Yum Cha (飲茶), which literally means "drinking tea", it actually means having dim sum (點心) meals. My parents brought us to dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong for breakfast treats occasionally. My impression of dim sum restaurants back then - very noisy and crowded! I could remember that my eyes were focusing on the trolleys of dim sum, and whenever I spotted the dim sum that I liked, I would "chase" after that trolley to grab the food! 

As my children are now older, I thought that it would be interesting to expose them to this culture, and also take this as a bonding opportunity with their grandparents. In Singapore, one restaurant with dim sum trolleys is Red Star Restaurant (紅星酒家) located at Chinatown. 

Dim Sum trolleys

Do you know about Yum Cha / Dim Sum culture?
  • You can ask for tea of your choice, e.g. Bo-lei / pu-er, Oolong, Chrysanthemum tea. Ask for one pot of hot water too. The first brew of tea is very concentrated, so pour some tea into your cup, then add some hot water.
  • The hot tea in the big metal bowl is not meant for drinking! The purpose is to rinse the cups, plates, chopsticks and spoons. 

  • Before you refill your cup of tea, it is customary to pour tea for others first. Of course, this is to be done by adults, the pot of tea is too heavy and dangerous for the children!
  • When the dim sum is served, the waitress would stamp on the dim sum card. The dishes are classified as 大點 (large), 中點 (medium) or 小點 (small), and the price for each type is different.
Dim Sum order card

In addition to the usual har gau (shrimp dumplings), siew mai (pork and shrimp dumplings) and char siu bao (steamed pork bun), we also like to eat 炸兩 (rice roll with you tiao), 牛肉腸粉 (rice roll with beef) and 牛肉球 (beef balls with Tofu skin).

炸兩 (rice roll with you tiao) and 牛肉腸粉 (rice roll with beef)

牛肉球 (beef balls with Tofu skin)

Some of you who have visited this restaurant during weekday lunch time or weekends, you would know that it is quite crowded and you may be expected to queue. So, if you are bringing your children along, I would suggest that you visit the restaurant on a weekdays morning.

At Red Star Restaurant, the price of dishes is as follow (as of June 2015): 大點 (large) SGD4.20, 中點 (medium) SGD3.60, 小點 (small) SGD3.20. Note that each person is also charged on tea at SGD1.80 per pax. There is also 5% service charge and 7% GST.

The children and their grandparents enjoy such family bonding session very much!

For younger children, you can introduce Dim Sum culture to them by reading a book titled  Dim Sum for Everyone (by Grace Lin).

Red Star Restaurant
Address: 54 Chin Swee Road #07-23 Singapore 160054

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  1. My parents used to bring us to Red Star often for dim sum. Haven't had the chance to bring Lil Pumpkin there as I'm quite turned off by the long queues!! Will have to try to go during weekday mornings like you suggested :P

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    1. Ai, visit on weekday mornings, not many people!

  2. This is the most traditional yam cha restaurant one can ever get in Singapore! Thanks for the yum cha etiquette lesson!

  3. Nice! Really reminds me of the Hong Kong style Yum Cha!

    Audrey @ SAys! Happy Mums

    1. Audrey, it was close to Hong Kong yum cha experience, except that not all staff can speak Cantonese.

  4. I think I'm the only person whose parents never brought to Red Star! But I love dim sum and remember the old school dim sum restaurants with the carts and the chop cards. Maybe I should bring my kids.

    1. Mummy bean, it would be a nice bonding activity with children to learn about yum cha culture!

  5. I have only been to Red Star once and it is one of the most traditional ones that I have seen. Love the push cart and how we pick the dimsum.

  6. One of the last remaining old-school dim sum outlets.
    Love the Char Siew Bao and carrot cake (Sun?)

    cheer, Andy

  7. This is my family's favourite dimsum restaurant. We've been dimsum-ing there for as long as I can remember!

    Shirley @ SAys! Happy Mums


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