In the 1970s, there are only a few reputable Chinese restaurants in Singapore where people go to celebrate weddings and birthdays and Red Star is definitely one of them. I remember going to Red Star for our extended family gathering with great excitement. As a kid, the restaurants looks very posh and grand and we loved dressing up in our best and frolicked around the carpeted restaurant with our cousins.
Fast forward to today, the restaurant is still like a piece of memory from the past. The old signboard outside the restaurant showcases their multiple reviews and celebrity status in the food scene in the 1970s.
As you step into the restaurant, you almost feel like you have stepped into a time machine. The entire restaurant looks like they have frozen in time. From the old school design red carpet to their metal velvet chairs and very dated stage setting, everything feels like they have been preserved from the 70s.
The restaurant is enormous with plenty of tables all set in the traditional round table style. This is the reason why people hold their weddings here as they can hold more than 50 tables. There is a window where you can see their fresh roasted meats as well as a bar counter and cashier at entrance of the restaurant.
One of the main reason why customers love coming here is for their old school dim sum which is served on pushcarts by the dim sum ladies. This is the authentic and traditional way of how dim sum is being served even in old Hong Kong dim sum restaurants. In Singapore, Red Star is probably one of the last few restaurants that still do this method.
The moment guests sit down at their designated table, you will see the dim sum ladies push their carts to your table to ‘sell’ their dishes. There are different kinds of carts so each lady will carry different kinds of dishes. There is the steamer cart with all the steamed dim sum, fried cart with fried dim sum, congee cart with different congee, hot plate cart with stir fry yong tau foo and carrot cake as well as rice roll cart. Usually, when you take a dish from a cart, the lady will put a chop on the card on your table to indicate the cost. The total cost of the meal is tabulated from these cards.
This is how the typical table look like after getting all the dim sum from the carts. Once the table is full, the carts will leave and start going to other tables. If you require other items again, you can wave them over or simply let a server know to ask the carts to come over. The beauty of dim sum is to fill your table with food and start eating them slowly while enjoying tea and conversations.
They have the usual traditional dim sum choices you can find in all dim sum restaurants. If you wish to find new modern dim sum, you probably can’t find it here at all. In terms of taste, it is basically quite mediocre and rough. Rough meaning meat is chopped in big chunks and seasoned roughly. If you are looking for fine tasting dim sum with exquisite details or ingredients, this is not the place for you.
To me, coming to Red Star is more of paying for an experience and a walk down memory lane and food is secondary. Many people also feel the same way as it gets impossibly crowded on weekends as you see many families with old seniors coming here for dim sum and you do have to queue to get a table as there is no reservations systems in place.
Address: 54 Chin Swee Rd, #07-23, Singapore 160054
Operating hours: 8 am to 3pm and 6 pm to 10 pm