Bao Today (Bao Jin Tian) @ OUB Centre

SL and I met for lunch at "Bao Jin Tian" @ OUB Centre. I had heard that the dim sum here is pretty good from some friends and thought it might be a good idea to check it out especially since my old dim sum haunts (close to the office) at The Neptune @ Overseas Union House and Teahouse @ China Square have since been demolished."Bao" refers to Chinese Steamed Buns and "Jin Tian" is Mandarin for "today". The name of this restaurant is interesting as it is a pun on the Chinese name for a Song Dynasty judge called Justice Bao (who is also known as Bao Qingtian). I checked out their website after my visit and was amused to find the theme song from the old Taiwanese serial playing on it (complete with the characteristic opening sounds of a Magistrate's hearing).

Dim Sum Menu

SL was running late so I found us a table in the almost-packed cafe. There was a long line of people who arrived after me and some of them walked into the cafe to look for tables, bypassing the service staff at the counter. I started ordering so that we wouldn't take too long for lunch, besides SL was only about 10 mins away.

Claypot Century Egg Porridge

Claypot Century Egg Congee @ S$5.80

I started with a small claypot of Century Egg Congee. I was famished and the thick congee was a good start to help me stave off my hunger pangs while waiting. The century egg slivers and minced meat added flavour but if you're a major congee fan, you're better off eating congee at Crystal Jade.

Square Steamer Boxes

The interesting thing about the wooden steamers here is that they're square as opposed to the regular round steamers that we find in most places.

Seafood Dumplings Steamed Chive & Seafood Dumplings @ S$3.50

The chive & seafood dumplings were like a modified version of Har Gau (aka Steamed Prawn Dumplings). I couldn't help but notice that all 3 dumplings had a slightly different shape & size. Hmm...looks like Quality Control (QC) is pretty bad here. Most dim sum chefs are able to churn out dumplings of any sort in similar shapes & sizes without batting an eyelid. Perhaps, we got the efforts of 2 dim sum chefs and an apprentice? The filling tasted like a generic paste of prawns, scallops with quite a bit of starch to bind them all. It was unimpressive but not so bad that it would want to make you hurl.

Har Gao aka Shrimp Dumpling

Steamed Prawn Dumplings (Har Gao) @ S$4.00

At least the steamed prawn dumplings looked better, though the skin was not as opaque as I hoped (usually an indicator of a thick dumpling skin, which is not good).

Thick-Skinned Har Gao

Here's a pic of the deconstructed Har Gao. As expected, the skin was very thick and it didn't help that the prawn paste that had too much starch, a slightly chemical taste (I think they must have used alot of alkaline water to make the prawns springy), and the killer: the prawns didn't taste very fresh. Eeks! If the prawn was fresh, the firmness of the flesh would need little enhancement and not alot of alkaline water would need to be added to make it "springier" in texture. The Har Gao makes the Seafood Dumpling taste better in comparison though a thick dumpling skin is apparently the order of the day here.

Xiao Long Bao @ Bao Jin Tian

Xiao Long Bao @ S$3.00 (Steamed Shanghainese Pork Dumplings with Soup)

I have never seen such hideous Xiao Long Baos in my life! The skin on one of the dumplings had broken as there was a "leakage" of "scum" (read: blood & fat). The dumpling skins were also very sticky such that picking them up with chopsticks causes the dumplings to stick to your chopsticks (like chewing gum). When you try to get them off your chopsticks, the skin breaks and the 2 drops of soup contained in the dumpling ends up on the plate/spoon/paper in the basket. Yes, for a soup dumpling, you get about 2-3 drops at best, if you're lucky! Thankfully, it didn't taste as porky as the dumplings at another place but it certainly made me appreciate Din Tai Fung's Xiao Long Bao much better!

Siew Mai @ Bao Jin Tian

Siew Mai @ S$3.50 (Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumplings topped with Tobiko)

At least the siew mai here fared better than the last 2 dumplings as it was fairly tasty though not particularly outstanding. As one of the siew mais had rolled away while we were moving the steamer, I got a picture of 2 of them...which I realised looked a little *ahem* "cheeky" when I viewed the picture at home. Anyway, have you noticed that most restaurants of late tend to use "tobiko" (flying fish roe) instead of the traditional crab roe to make the distinctive orange dot on the dumpling? I guess its partly to do with cost as a crab (depending on the season & specie) tends to yield a very limited quantity of roe.

Bowl of Tea

This place plays alot on the traditional theme. Its decorated with rustic wooden tables and stools. They offer you the option of getting your Chinese Tea served in a bowl instead of a cup. Add the bad acoustics (ie. you can barely hear yourself speak), it was like a scene out of a Chinese movie depicting ancient teahouses.

As the Dim Sum here is rather inexpensive, I suppose we can't really expect too much. Besides, there aren't many other dim sum places in the vicinity.

PS: I noticed that most of the patrons were eating wanton noodles instead, maybe I'll try the noodles the next time I visit.

Bao Today @ OUB Centre 1 Raffles Place #01-09A OUB Centre Tel: 6535-7877 Operating Hours: Mondays - Saturdays : 7am - 8pm (Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays)

Bao Today @ Marina Square 6 Raffles Boulevard #02-234 Marina Square Tel: 6336-2237 Operating Hours: Daily: 10 am - 10 pm

Bao Today @ United Square #B1-20 United Square

Operating Hours: Daily: 8.30am – 9.30pm