Soon, you won’t be limited to just Honolulu Café or Tai Cheong Bakery when you crave an authentic Hong Kong-style cha chaan teng fix. Tsui Wah, the ubiquitous casual restaurant chain that’s on just about every street corner in Hong Kong, will be coming to town.
The company behind it has signed a joint venture agreement with local F&B group, Jumbo Group Limited. The latter, who's behind brands like Jumbo Seafood, will have franchise rights to operate the brand in Singapore. It is Tsui Wah’s first foray into Southeast Asia.
The brand was born in 1967 as a humble “ice café” in Mongkok serving simple Cantonese-style comfort nosh like fusion French toast, other bakery items, coffee, tea and iced drinks. Today, it has morphed into what’s essentially the HK version of Starbucks, with 70 outlets in Hong Kong, Macau and China
Popular dishes on its menu include the Crispy Bun with Condensed Milk, plus the Fish Balls And Fish Cakes with Flat Rice Noodles in Fish Soup, where the orbs are apparently made daily with "handpicked yellow eels and over 10 types of fresh fish".
Of course, Tsui Wah is also adored for its HK-style Milk Tea, brewed with Ceylon tea leaves and the cha chaan teng staple of Holland’s Black & White evaporated milk.
Truth be told? We drop by a Tsui Wah branch in Hong Kong only when there are no other options (like late at night and most eateries are closed). The milk tea we’ve had there has been hit-or-miss: pleasant on occasion (like at the airport branch), sour and tannic on others.
We’re also ambivalent about its signature condensed milk bun: it can be quite enjoyable when sufficiently toasted and buttered, but rather depressing when it's not. We’ve not tried the eatery's signature fish ball noodles — but we know people who love it. Our colleague shares: “I only eat the fish ball noodles at Tsui Wah. It has a light broth with silky kway teow, delicately bouncy fish balls and soup-soaked tau pok. It’s comfort food after a night of clubbing — I often go to the Lan Kwai Fong branch for supper.”
Meanwhile, mod Sin chef Willin Low is a fan of the restaurant's Fish Paste Puffs with Soup (which we also haven't tried). "The puffs have a stronger fish flavour than our local fish balls and a texture that's dense, bouncy and light all at once. I can't find them anywhere in Singapore," he gushes. "I think it’s long overdue [that Tsui Wah comes to town] — I hope it will have the same standard as the branches in HK. Some of the other famous brands have proven disappointing after coming over," adds the chef.
In a press statement released today, Group CEO and Executive Director of Jumbo, Mr Ang Kiam Meng, says, “We look forward to expanding our F&B brands portfolio with the inclusion of the Tsui Wah brand, a highly regarded F&B chain in Hong Kong and China.”
However, there’s no word on the opening date, location or number of outlets yet. Check back soon for updates.