宴 (Yan) is the first restaurant which comes to my mind that serves beautifully prepared cantonese cuisine. Growing up in a cantonese household, whenever the opportunity to have cantonese cuisine arises, I feel that warm fuzzy feeling in my belly.
Alongside the fact that Yan has a beautiful ambience and is set in a cultural iconic building in the heart of the city’s colonial district, Yan has kept their standard of food and the authenticity of the traditional cantonese cuisine constant ever since I first dined at Yan. Without a doubt, it still remains to be my “go-to” Chinese restaurants for special occasions and where I bring my overseas guests to dine at, so as to give them top-notch quality cantonese cuisine.
When I first heard that Yan was going to give their menu a “face-lift” due to the new Head Chef Ng Sen Tio, I was extremely excited to see what my favourite restaurant was going to offer.
Being a returning customer of Yan over the past couple of years, I honestly had very high expectations before my meal. Yan’s innovative menu offerings, such as their national day specials, never failed to disappoint. I was confident that their new menu items would live up to their standard as well.
The first dish I had was the trio comprising Fried Minced Duck Meat and Cuttlefish Paste in Egg Pancake ($14 per serving), House Special Caramelised Barbecued Pork ($18 per serving), and Marinated Okra with Homemade Spiced Sauce. (Shown from left to right) Personally, my favourite among the three was the marinated Okra with Homemade Spiced Sauce ($14 per serving). Although it was a very simple dish, the marinate really complemented the okra very well and it certainly sparked my liking for the vegetable. The House Special Caramelised Barbecued Pork was not too fatty and had an authentic taste, reminding me of the barbecued pork I used to eat as a child back in Malaysia. And you know what they say about barbecued pork from KL compared to those you find in Singapore. Last but not least, the Fried Minced Buck Meat and Cuttlefish Paste in Egg pancake was a unique dish not to be found anywhere else, it had an interesting “smoky” aftertaste in which I found hard to describe. This dish was a recipe Chef Ng learned in the 1970s, I highly recommend ordering this dish and giving it a try! Do note that for all appetizers offered, guests with large groups or guests who make bookings for events beforehand are able to select and customise their own trio of appetizers, like the one I had.
Cantonese cuisine will never be complete without soup. Next, I had the Golden Pumpkin Broth with Seafood and Chicken Paste Beancurd ($18 per serving). Personally, I would always select double-boiled clear soup worrying that the soup would fill me up before the main items arrive at the table. However, I was taken by surprise that this broth was so light and easy to drink. I found the consistency of the broth perfect and the sweetness of the pumpkin really gave the broth a good aftertaste. Inside the broth, there was a jelly-textured seafood and chicken paste beancurd. Like the egg pancake, I can vouch that this interesting food item cannot be found anywhere else in Singapore or even any restaurant in the world. The jelly-textured seafood and chicken paste beancurd just melted in my mouth, there was no strong seafood taste for those who are worried about a strong prawn or seafood taste.
Fun fact - the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine lies in Guangdong province, where an abundance of fresh seafood allowed chefs to reap the treasures of the South China Sea. Next, I had the Claypot Wok-Fried Prawns with Fish Maw and Vermicelli and Homemade XO Sauce ($38 for small; $57 for medium; $76 for large). Despite this dish being a very common dish found elsewhere, the vermicelli is actually simmered in the restaurant’s special homemade XO sauce and chicken stock. With a sizzling entrance, this dish tasted as good as it sounded and looked. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish without feeling that it was too salty.
Probably the highlight of this meal was the Wok-Fried Crab with Homemade Pumpkin Sauce. (contact restaurant for price; lobster at $18 per 100g) Moments before I had this dish, I confidently said that my favourite type of crab was Chilli Crab, however this dish definitely won my heart. Made with creamy mashed pumpkin, milk, curry leaves and pepper, I am not exaggerating when I say that this dish was “life-changing”. I ensured I did not let any drop of sauce go to waste. This dish was perfectly paired with fried mantous, indeed it has left me yearning to come back for more.
Just as I thought I could not stuff myself anymore, the arrival of the House Special Local Lobster Porridge with Clams and Puffed Rice proved me wrong. This dish is the cantonese rendition of the Teochew style “pao pao fan”. I was informed that the broth was made with roasted prawn and lobster shells, and steamed rice was brewed with chicken stock to give this dish a rich flavour. The amount of effort behind preparing this dish was reflected in the flavourful taste of this dish. I found this dish both savoury and sweet, sweet due to the presence of the clams in the pot, at the same time.
For someone with a sweet tooth, I always console myself that Chinese style desserts are less sinful compared to cakes or chocolates. For dessert, I had my all-time favourite Hot Almond Cream ($8 per serving). The Almond Cream had a smooth consistency without being too sweet. I found this to be a perfect sweet end to my cantonese feast. The other options included the Chilled Mango Cream with Sago and Freshly Peeled Pomelo and the Chilled Peach Resin with Osmathus and Aloe Vera Jelly (both priced at $8 per serving). I will definitely be back to try the other dessert options, as well as other food options. Given I went the day before mid-autumn festival, we were offered traditional salted egg lotus paste moon cakes. I loved Yan's moon cakes, especially the beautiful moon cake box which currently serves as my jewelry box.
Noting that Yan tends to be on the pricier side compared cantonese restaurants in Singapore, my opinion is that you definitely get a bang for your buck given the quality of food that is being served here. I cannot wait to bring my folks back home here for a treat.
Address: #05-02 National Gallery Singapore 1 St Andrew's Road Singapore 178957
Reservations: Call (65) 6384 5585 Email reserve@Yan.com.sg Book online via CHOPE http://bit.ly/219xw4u
Operating Hours: Daily Lunch: 11:30am to 2:30pm; Dinner: 6:00pm to 10:30pm