Hand in Hand restaurant is my discovery of the year. It is a comfortable little joint on Jalan Besar road dishing up 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 instantly transported back to Harbin. The tables are large, 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. And the place is always busy of tables laden with all sorts of interesting buns, dumplings and dishes to tempt you. 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 you drink order and food can be ordered on the electronic tablet.
Hand in Hand has an impressive menu but be sure to focus on the dumplings! They have more than 20 different types of dumplings on the menu. Their signature dish are the xiao long bao and the recipe is so prized, even the chefs don’t know it! The owners prepare the meat filling very early in the morning before handing it over to the chefs to cook. The xiao long bao at Hand in Hand are very good in terms of flavour, size and soupiness however the dough is on the thick side. They also serve pan friend xiao long bao filled with pork and Chinese sauce. They are twice the size of regular xiao long bao and are served in an impressive griddle. However don’t expect any soupy filling as they are more meaty and doughy.
The best sellers are their pan fried range of dumplings. The dumplings are filled with your choice of leek and shrimp, pork and cabbage, or fish and pork and are served on a flat plate with crispy crust. Despite being fried they are not oily and the fillings are succulent and juicy.
My favourite dumplings at Hand in Hand are their boiled dim sum. Whilst they predominately come filled with pork, the fresh cuttlefish dumplings with ink dough stand out as special. The filling is juicy and fishy and they are easy to eat. I normally use chilli sauce liberally with my dim sum but these dumplings are tasty enough without any additional condiments if you eat them piping hot.
Hand in Hand have a range of other types of dishes as well and every time I eat here, I discover something new and delicious. Their noodles are handmade and the seaweed homemade tofu stands out as a main 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 waitstaff 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 too overwhelming. Nonetheless we have returned several times since for amazing food.
Hand in Hand is very reasonably priced and we usually pay less than $30 for a meal for two people at lunchtime. Corkage is free. There are not many outstanding Northern Chinese restaurants in Singapore, especially at a reasonable price. This truly is a hidden gem.
Hand in Hand
143 Jalan Besar