Most folks who’ve been to Hong Kong would be familiar with Tsui Wah, the modern, affordably-priced cha chaan teng chain that has fed many a hungry customer into the wee hours of the night.

It opens its first Southeast Asia outlet here tomorrow (June 15) at Clarke Quay, and we got a sneak preview today.

The Tsui Wah branch here is elegantly decorated, air-conditioned and well-lit, with the kitchen tucked away at the back (but you can still peek at the bustling kitchen staff rushing out your orders). With its turquoise booth seats and mosaic tiled walls, we daresay the décor at the Singapore branch is classier than most of its HK counterparts.

We were given 10 types of signature dishes to try today, but alas, it didn’t include their famous fish paste puffs, which local mod-Sin chef Willin Low says is a must-try. But good news: it will be available tomorrow when the restaurant opens to the public. You’ll have to wait a bit longer for a bite of their famous bouncy fish balls, though. 

Made with a “secret recipe”, the orbs are not on the menu for now as Tsui Wah’s director of kitchen operations, Cheung Pui Yan, reckons: “The ingredients we get here are still not [up-to-scratch], so we can’t make them yet.” But once offered, the fish paste puffs and fish balls will be made in-house. “We will make them in the morning. Once they sell out, they sell out,” says Pui Yan. 

Tsui Wah Singapore is a joint venture between the Tsui Wah Group and local seafood specialist Jumbo Group. 

“People have been asking me, when are you opening in Singapore? So here we are,” laughs Peter Pang, CEO of the Tsui Wah Group. He tells us that he had partnered with Jumbo as “they have been around for so many years, like us, and we have the same mission to offer the best service.” 

Tsui Wah celebrates its 51st anniversary this year.

According to Peter, more outlets are potentially on the cards, while Vivian Lee, Tsui Wah’s Hongkong-based head of corporate communications and marketing, says: “The Singapore outlet is open till 11pm [instead of 24 hours like some Tsui Wah outlets in Hongkong] because we want to wait till this first restaurant is stable and observe Singaporeans’ response to us.” 

She adds that the Singapore menu is similar to Hongkong’s, though the range is smaller. “But since we are opening in Clarke Quay, we will be serving alcohol here [unlike most Tsui Wah outlets in HK]” A glass of red or white wine goes for $10, while beer prices start at $10 for a 330ml can of Tiger beer. 

Prices here are “about 10 per cent higher than Tsui Wah outlets in Hongkong due to the cost of importing ingredients here”, says Pui Yan, who’s from the HK HQ.

He will be based here long-term to get the Singapore restaurant on track, while Tsui Wah’s Hongkong team of trainers had already flown into town earlier to train the local kitchen staff for a month before the outlet’s opening. 

A few Tsui Wah chefs from Hongkong have also been transferred here permanently to helm the kitchen.

Check out our video above for more deets about the food and the chain’s signature milk tea. Or read our full review here

Tsui Wah Singapore is at #01-03 Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Rd, S179020. Tel: 6250-9270. Open daily 11am to 11pm; from 1pm on 15 June. Last orders at 10.30pm. www.facebook.com/TsuiwahSingapore

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