Yàn’s menu gets a refresh in the hands of Ng Sen Tio, a chef who has worked at Chinese restaurants in Singapore for the past 30 years.
For regulars, Yàn’s new menu will not look drastically unfamiliar. Signatures such as crispy roast suckling pig and the steamed kampong chicken with ginger and spring onion are firm fixtures. But new head chef Ng Sen Tio, formerly from Joyden Treasures, brings with him a sensibility for flavours that pay homage to the heritage of local Chinese cuisine.
Fried minced duck meat and cuttlefish paste in egg pancake ($14 per serving) for instance, is a dish he learnt to make in the 1980s when he was working at a restaurant in Boon Lay called 欣欣酒楼 (Yan Yan Zao Lao). He recreates the dish by panko-coating minced duck, cuttlefish paste, and water chestnuts, then deep-frying them until golden brown. Together with a mustardy homemade sauce and a light egg crepe, the dish makes for a delicately crisp and savoury start to the meal.
The wok-fried Sri Lankan crab ($10 per 100g) looks like salted egg yolk crab, a well-loved staple in local seafood restaurants, but its rich golden sauce is actually pumpkin-based and more savoury than sweet from the use of condiments such as pepper and curry leaves.
In the roasts department, chef Ng adds a variation of the barbecued honey pork for those who prefer their char siew a tad fattier. The House Special caramelised barbecued pork ($18 per serving) is a melt-in-your-mouth rendition of wu hua rou or streaky pork, seasoned with a marinade of seafood sauce, red fermented beancurd cubes, rose wine, orange peel and onion.
Warming, comforting dishes on the menu also make a strong impression. In the House Special local lobster porridge with clams and puffed rice ($18 per 100g), a rich broth made with stir-fried crustacean shells and chicken stock is married with rice and seafood. Puffed rice, dancing on the dish that arrives gently bubbling over, adds a welcome crunch. In the claypot wok-fried prawns with fish maw and vermicelli and homemade XO sauce (from $38 for a small portion), each component’s braised separately in the homemade XO sauce and chicken stock before they are cooked together in a dish that’s a luscious bite in every mouthful.
While the dessert menu remains unchanged, new items such as steamed prawns bamboo charcoal dumplings with black garlic ($9 for three pieces) and the crispy foie gras, celery and mushroom rolls ($6.80) add to the dim sum selection.
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