The first wave of the Hong Kong invasion came in 2016. It seemed that year that a Hong Kong eatery was opening at every corner.
This year, round two of the invasion seems to be happening.
On March 26, Mui Kee Congee opens its doors at Shaw Centre (#01-12), and later this year, popular cha chan teng Tsui Wah will open its first outlet in South-east Asia. The latter is slated to open later this year, at Clarke Quay.
While we anticipate the arrivals of these iconic eateries, here is a reminder of some that are already here.
1. Mak’s Noodles
Address: The Centrepoint, #01-63/64, Singapore 238843
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm
Mak’s Noodles started in Guangzhou, China in 1920, before it moved to Hong Kong during the World War II.
It is famous for its petite bowl of noodles and dumplings.
In spite of the higher prices, crowds swarmed its first outlet in The Centrepoint when it opened in 2015. Two more outlets came right after (at Westgate and VivoCity).
The wanton burst for the eatery though, because they are back to just one outlet at The Centrepoint.
2. Coffee Academics
Address: Scotts Square, #02-01/02, Singapore 228209
Opening hours: 9am to 9pm
Address: #B1-12, Raffles City, Singapore 179103
Opening hours: 9am to 10pm Monday to Thursday; 9am to 10.30pm Friday and Saturday; 9am to 9.30pm Sunday
In 2016, UK broadsheet The Telegraph proclaimed Coffee Academics to be “the world’s best coffee shop”. A big accolade, considering it only opened in 2012 at Causeway Bay.
2016 was also the year the cafe expanded into Singapore at Scotts Square, before opening its second outlet at Raffles City.
3. Kam’s Roast
Address: #01-04/05/06/07, Pacific Plaza, Singapore 228210
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm weekdays; 10.3pm to 10pm weekends and public holidays
When Kam’s Roast Goose opened its first overseas outlet in Singapore in 2016, it was without its signature item - the goose. The restaurant just could not find a goose that it found suitable from Hungary or the United States (the only two countries allowed to import goose into Singapore).
That prompted a name change and it is now Kam’s Roast in Singapore, with its popular char siew taking the spotlight instead.
4. Honolulu Cafe
Address: #01-33F/G The Centrepoint, Singapore 238843
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm
Address: #02-06 Westgate Mall, Singapore 608532
Opening hours: 8am to 10pm
Popular Hong Kong cha chan teng Honolulu Cafe has been around since the 1940s, and came to Singapore in 2016. Enough people want to eat it that it opened a second branch at Westgate a year later.
While it is famous for its egg tarts, I enjoyed the other items as much: The Curry Fish Ball and Instant Noodle with Ham and Egg are fabulous.
5. Tai Cheong Bakery
Address: 31 Lor Liput, Singapore 277742
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm weekdays; 9am to 11pm weekends
Tai Cheong Bakery is widely regarded as superior when it comes to egg tarts, but its homely fare draws the crowd too. There may be fewer people in the queue these days (when it opened its first cha chan teng at Holland Village, waiting time was at least 90 minutes and no one batted an eyelid), but the food remains as comforting.
I’m a big fan of its Three-Egg Macaroni Soup with Luncheon Meat and Scrambled Eggs Toast Stack.
6. Tim Ho Wan
Address: Eight outlets in Singapore. Go to www.timhowan.com for more information.
The brand which started the Hong Kong wave. This one-Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant made its way to Singapore in 2013. Today, there are eight outlets in Singapore.
Its popularity has dimmed over the years - remember the once-insane snaking queues outside each outlet? - and some of the comparisons of the dim sum items between the original and the Singapore version have been unkind, but it has become part of the local F&B landscape.