5 Best Liu Sha Bao aka Golden Custard Buns in Singapore. Let’s Ooze!
[Will be updating this list. Let me know if any new and good ones have popped up.] Talk about dim sum in Singapore, the Liu Sha Bao or Golden Lava Custard Buns are one of the top orders. Considered a new dim sum item first made popular in Hong Kong, the uniqueness is in its creamy runny egg custard filling made with salted egg yolk and butter.
Perhaps it is our obsession with flowing food items. What makes a Liu Sha Bao tick?
To me, it’s the soft outer bun layer, steamy oozing golden lava when bitten into, the after taste of the salted egg yolk, and that special X-factor. Some buns just have that extra oomph. (Read: 5 Oozing Food That Singaporeans Love)
When I did an informal poll via facebook and instagram, the usual Chinese restaurant names were contributed: Crystal Jade, Canton Paradise, East Ocean, Man Fu Yuan, Imperial Treasure, The Cathay Restaurant (now closed permanently), and Victor’s Kitchen – the humble shop at Sunshine Plaza (now also at Chinatown Point) most known for this particular dim sum.
I ventured far to try more than 10 different restaurants, and became excitedly surprised by some of the lesser-known names. These are what I consider the 5 Best Liu Sha Bao in Singapore.
68 Orchard Road Plaza Singapura 238839 (Dhoby Gaut MRT)
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm (Mon-Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat-Sun)
Mouth Restaurant may not be the number one dim sum restaurant to many, and its branch at Plaza Singapura can be so quiet that it feels cold an un=atmospheric just dining there. Maybe I am bias.
But Mouth Restaurant’s custard bun ($5.60 for 3) is one of the few presented with baked crust, with skin slightly crumply yet still soft. (Think Tim Ho Wan Singapore buns with custard fillings)
The inside is not the usual milky creamy, but buttery where the salted egg yolk texture is distinctly grainy. The flow is thick and slow, like bright yellow lava of the volcano flowing down that may set your heart racing with anticipation.
Taste Paradise 味之楼
ION Orchard #04-07 (Orchard MRT) Tel: +65 6509 9660
Opening Hours: 11:30-3:00pm, 6:00-11:00pm (Mon-Fri), 11:00-11:00pm (Sat-Sun)
Canton Paradise and Paradise Pavilion serve Liu Sha Bao of the same recipe, but it is Taste Paradise’s version ($5.50 for 3) that is a slight cut above the rest.
The reason? Paradise’s Group best dim sum shifu are found at Ion’s Taste Paradise, hand-making these custard buns fresh, steaming them for an exact 5 minutes. The texture is creamy smooth and colour vibrant yellow.
The best word used to describe these treasures? Delicate.
Bosses Restaurant 黑社会
#02-156/157 Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk (Harbourfront MRT), Tel: +65 6376940
Opening Hours: 11:00am-9:30pm Daily
Bosses only serve 2 dim sum items during dinner time – the Liu Sha Bao and Xiao Long Bao. Both are exceptional, I mean, when you compare to their other dishes.
The restaurant with its modern black walls is relatively quieter than all the other restaurants at Vivocity which see queues during the weekends. The Signature Custard Lava Bun ($4.20) is worth my trip here, arriving steaming hot, and the orangey yellow skin remains supple fluffy even after a while.
The filling flows, flows and flow – very generous, and somewhat more to the watery side.
Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck
#05-42/45 Paragon, 290 Orchard Rd. Singapore 238859 (Orchard MRT), Tel: +65 6732 7838
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am-2:45pm (Mon-Fri), 11am-2:45pm (Sat), 10:30am-2:45pm (Sun); Dinner 6-10:30pm Daily
Imperial Treasure’s group of restaurants always have a certain quality to their dim sum, and do you know the restaurant at Paragon branch is the one which is ranked Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant? (Only Chinese restaurant from Singapore on that list too.)
The buns are almost perfectly shaped, with the taste striking an appropriate balance between sweet and sugar. Unlike some other buns which can get too oily or rich, you would find it easy to pop more than one.
Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant
187/188/191 Jalan Besar Singapore 20882 Tel: +65 6225 7788
Opening Hours: 6pm-6am (Wed-Mon), Closed Tues
This is a choice between Swee Choon’s and Victor’s Kitchen. (I wanted a range from restaurants to more casual eateries.)
I finally picked Swee Choon (although I know many will differ in opinion) because Swee Choon ($3 for 3) has a better consistency and a more pleasant eating environment (even though both fall under the same type.)
Swee Choon’s interpretation is slightly sweeter, while Victor’s has the stronger salted egg yolk savour. While some of Swee Choon’s dim sum are not as consistent as we have liked (there was one particular time it didn’t really flow), its Golden Lava buns have always been outstanding for a shop with modest beginnings, with one of my friends exclaiming it is “life-changing”.
Royal China Restaurant
03-09 Raffles Hotel Arcade, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road Singapore 189673 Tel: +65 6338 3363
Opening Hours: 12:00-3:00pm, 6-10:30pm (Mon-Sat), 11:00am-2:00pm, 600-10:30pm
Almost made it to the 5. Contrary to what many may think, Royal China is not as steep in price even though it is in Raffles Hotel. Royal China’s version has the addition of mango juice to the custard, thus the slightly sweeter finish. Though the bun did not ooze enough to draw the oooohs and ahhhhs, unfortunately.
Tell me which is your personal favourite Liu Sha Bao in Singapore and why?
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January 08, 2018