Hand in Hand is my discovery of the year, as it is an amazing little restaurant dishing up delicious Chinese dumplings on Jalan Besar road. Even more, I can say it is the best Northern Chinese fare in Singapore. Whilst that is a big statement, it is not an exaggeration. The dishes are made with high quality ingredients and care… and you can taste it. Hand in Hand’s mission statement is to serve customers with love and sincerity and their selection of dumplings rivals the nearby Swee Choon in variety, deliciousness and price.
Flossie’s rating: ★★★★★
Whenever I walk into Hand in Hand I feel transported back to Harbin in Northern China. The tables are sturdy and well spread out so you actually have space to breathe and enjoy your meal. The smell of coriander, ginger and pork fills your nostrils and heightens your appetite. If I were not deaf, I could really imagine I was in China enjoying an authentic meal. I say that because the majority of customers here are Japanese and the serving staff, whilst all from mainland China, speak Japanese rather than English as a second language. So it is slightly bizarre to be surrounded by Japanese language in the middle of Jalan Besar whilst eating Chinese! But given how picky the Japanese are about their food, I would say it is a testament to the quality of this place.
The service here is good. Upon arrival, you are presented with an enormous chilled pot of shredded pickled ginger. You can eat as much as you like with your meal and they will refill it for you at no charge. Talk about generous! They also have a fantastic chilli and garlic sauce on the table. You rarely have to wait long before someone comes to take your drink order.
Hand in Hand has an impressive menu but be sure to focus on the dumplings, which is their specialty. Hand in Hand boasts more than 20 different varieties of dumpling and the recipe for their signature xiao long bao is so prized, even the chefs don’t know it. The owners prepare the meat filling for the soup dumplings very early in the morning before handing it over to the chefs to cook during service. The xiao long bao have a rich and meaty flavour with plenty of soup although the dough is on the thicker side.
An interesting twist on this classic dish is the pan fried xiao long bao. They are twice the size of regular soup dumplings and come served in a griddle. Instead of the usual soupy filling, these white pillowy buns are stuffed with pork and thick Chinese sauce.
The pan fried dumplings at Hand in Hand are the biggest sellers and the star attraction for most of the Japanese customers. They are similar to gyoza except not as oily, and as one Japanese customer put it ‘this is the type of taste we like’. Pan fried dumplings are served on a large flat plate with crispy crust and filled with your choice of leek and shrimp, pork and cabbage, or fish and pork.
But my favourite dumplings at Hand in Hand are the boiled variety and in particular, the fresh cuttlefish dumplings. These babies are special and they are black in colour due to the addition of squid ink in making the dough. The cuttlefish filling is both juicy and fishy and whilst I normally use chilli sauce liberally with my dim sum, these dumplings are tasty enough without additional condiments.
Hand in Hand’s range of boiled dumplings can also be served in soup. However you cannot beat the classic wonton soup dish, which has a light and clear broth and is served with pork dumplings, seaweed and plenty of coriander.
Hand in Hand have an extensive menu of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes as well and every time I eat here, I discover something new and delicious. The la mien noodles are made on the premises and the seaweed homemade tofu stands out as a signature dish in its own right.
However not every restaurant gets it right 100% of the time. One night we went for dinner and wished to try the steamed flower grouper, which was sold out. The waitress recommended we try the sweet and sour grouper instead. I am not a fan of sweet and sour sauce at the best of times and ordering this dish was a mistake. The fish was dry and boney and the sauce was overwhelming. Nonetheless we have returned several times since for amazing food.
Hand in Hand is reasonably priced and we usually pay less than $30 for a meal for two people at lunchtime. Corkage is also free, which is practically unheard of in Singapore. And the dumplings are incredible. There are not many outstanding Northern Chinese restaurants serving quality food at low prices. These Chinese dumplings on Jalan Besar are truly incredible!
Hand in Hand
143 Jalan Besar