Dim sum deals: Small bites, big discounts

The stream of tourists had dried up, so it was time to woo back locals.

When restaurants resumed business in June after the circuit breaker, Majestic Bay restaurant at Gardens by the Bay decided it needed to do something impactful to attract diners’ attention.

The upscale Chinese seafood restaurant launched a one-for-one dim sum buffet daily deal for lunch and dinner that cut prices to $21 a person. From this month, the deal is available only from Mondays to Fridays.

With more than 10 dim sum items like xiao long bao and steamed honey pork buns, as well as dishes like roast duck, sea prawns with garlic and sauteed beef hor fun making up a total selection of about 30 items, it was an instant hit.

Its two lunch seatings and single dinner seating were almost fully booked up by families and those hungry for a good deal over the past three months.

The number of diners jumped by 60 per cent, said the spokesman, but because of the massive discount, it translated to a modest revenue increase.

“We are located within a predominantly tourist area, so we had to pivot to attracting locals to this location,” its spokesman said.

This is not the only fantastic dim sum offer in town.

Another seafood restaurant Red House, which has outlets in Prinsep Street and the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, also launched a dim sum and seafood a la carte buffet in late June.

Priced at $28.80 on weekdays and $33.80 on weekends, the menu consists of 52 items, including dishes like pumpkin crayfish, salted egg calamari and deluxe seafood fried rice.

Dim sum items include har gau, siew mai, custard buns and truffle wild mushroom dumplings.

The price, said the restaurant’s spokesman Elaine Heng, is about 40 per cent of what it would cost for a similar a la carte meal.

“With the closure of borders and in the current climate with people being generally more prudent with their spending, it is important that we tweak our offerings to meet market needs,” she said.

The buffet strategy is working. The restaurant has seen its lunch business recover by almost 40 per cent after an initial drastic drop from the loss of corporate diners and tourists.

While Majestic Bay said it will eventually discontinue its one-for-one dim sum deal as that is not its intended “cuisine concept” and brand positioning, Red House has no plans to stop its buffet.

Said Ms Heng: “Through the dim sum and seafood a la carte buffet, we managed to pivot our business while staying true to our commitment to quality food. This allows customers to enjoy our food at more pocket-friendly prices.”

Chinese restaurant chain Peach Garden also started its high tea buffet with dim sum last year in what has turned out to be a prescient move.

The buffet is available at its Thomson Plaza branch on weekends and its Chinatown Point outlet daily. Prices start at $38 on weekdays and $42 on weekends.

There is also a 50 per cent discount off buffet prices on weekdays and 40 per cent off on weekends, making this likely the best dim sum deal in town for a premier restaurant brand.

Its other outlets at Miramar Hotel, OCBC Centre and Metropolis do not have buffets, but offer discounts ranging from 20 to 50 per cent for a la carte dim sum.

Its spokesman said: “The high tea works out to less than $20 a person. This is lower than the average check of $25 a person for a la carte dim sum orders.”

This attracts customers who are not looking for a filling meal, but rather, a hearty snack, she added.

There are 12 dim sum items in the buffet, with popular items like baked “bo lo” bun with char siew and pineapple, steamed dumpling in Sichuan style and baked mini egg tarts. The menu is reviewed every quarter, with some items changed.

These dim sum promotions have helped the group increase revenue by about 30 per cent, mainly from women in their 30s to 50s who go with family and friends.

Response has been growing steadily, so the promotions are likely to remain a permanent feature, said the spokesman.

Even the newly opened Tang Lung Restaurant at Robertson Quay is banking on a dim sum a la carte buffet to draw customers on Sunday afternoons.

It is priced at $26.80 a person, and for this month, one dines free with every two paying adults.

The Chinese restaurant has items such as pineapple char siew tart and pork siew mai with salted egg yolk.

Where to go


Where: Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, tel: 6604-6604

Dim sum a la carte buffet: Weekdays, 11.30am to 1pm, 1.30 to 3pm, 5.30 to 7.30pm

Price: $42 for adults (one for one), $15 for children aged six to 11, $5 for children aged three to five



Where: 68 Prinsep Street, tel: 6336-6080; Level 2 Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, 392 Havelock Road, tel: 6735-7666

Dim sum and seafood a la carte buffet: Weekdays, noon to 2.30pm; weekends and public holidays, noon to 3pm

Price: Adults $28.80 and children $11.80 on weekdays; $33.80 and $13.80 on weekends and public holidays



Where: Five outlets at Thomson Plaza, Chinatown Point, Miramar Hotel, OCBC Centre, Metropolis

Info: For dim sum hours and prices at the outlets, go to www.peachgarden.com.sg/promotions. Discounts vary at different outlets and on different days



Where: 01-12 The Pier at Robertson Quay, 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, tel: 6262-9966

Dim sum a la carte buffet: Sundays, 3 to 5pm

Price: $26.80 for adults and $16.80 for children aged six to 12. For this month, a third person eats free with two paying adults

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