Food Review: Yan Cantonese Cuisine at National Gallery Singapore | Welcoming new Executive Chef Lai Chi Sum, and the must-eat Steamed Kampong Chicken
The Place Located at the fifth level of National Gallery Singapore along with Aura, Yan Cantonese Cuisine restaurant has a new Executive Chef on-board. Chef Lai Chi Sum was part of the pioneer team behind Crystal Jade group of restaurants, having been with the group for 18 years. Since joining Yan late in 2017, Chef Lai has undertaken a silent revolution on the menu here, introducing his ‘private dining style’ take on Cantonese cuisine. The latest dishes introduced by Chef Lai may not be the most gorgeously plated items, but it will definitely evoke that sense of home-prepared food for many.
The restaurant remains as stunning a space as when we first visited it, light tones of wood coupled with pastel colours used for its furniture and fittings. For diners visiting the restaurant for the first time, do note that you need not pay for the museum entrance to head to Yan. Just follow the signage and take the elevator up to level 5 of the gallery.
The Food Keeping Yan’s original signatures and all-time favourites, Chef Lai introduces a selection of new dishes. To start, their classic Yan Peking Roast Duck (S$45 for Half, S$90 for Whole) is delectable.
For diners who are constantly struggling with how to deal with the remaining meat for a second take on the duck, Yan will be more than happy to serve the duck chopped up, where you can simply enjoy it as-is. Frankly, this beats the usual second take on Peking Duck.
A new soup, the Shark Cartilage Broth with Homemade Wanton (S$18) is to-die-for. While it may come across bland for some, or singular in taste, the smooth broth is achieved through 6 hours of steaming and a further 15 minutes boiling at high temperature to prepare the broth. Mixing shark cartilage, chicken, pork trotter, lean meat, and canopy, the soup is served with a simple prawn wanton.
A dish introduced in Hong Kong in the 1980s, the Baked Crab Shell with Crab Meat with Onion (S$18) has the flower crabmeat all extracted and baked with the meat filled in the shell of the crab. Interesting dish, and you get to enjoy the sweet crabmeat with much ease.
The next dish is an interesting take on pork ribs. The marinated ribs are first steamed, and subsequently deep fried, the House Special Baked Pork Ribs with Black Olives (S$13.80) is a must try on amongst its new items.
Another must-try here, the Steamed Kampong Chicken with Ginger Spring Onion (S$25 for Half, S$50 for Whole) is a crowd favourite. The Malaysian kampung chicken is steamed for 25 minutes and served chopped. The winning formula is the scallion with peanut oil and the chopped spring onion which is sprinkled over the chicken before serving. Do note that you have to order this dish at least one day in advance, and you should make sure you order this.
One of Yan’s signature, this Steamed Thousand Layer Tofu (S$22 for Small, S$33 for Medium, S$44 for Large) is a test of the chef’s skills. Slicing the soft tofu into thin slices, without destroying the intricacies of the tofu.
To conclude the meal, the Braised Mee Po with Fresh Mushroom and XO Sauce (S$22 for Small, S$33 for Medium, S$44 for Large) is a decent choice. What’s interesting here is the thin texture of the ‘mee po’, which makes it rather light and an ideal selection if you are already quite filled at this point.
This seems to be a favourite amongst my dinner party, the Hot Walnut Cream (S$8) reminds me of the more commonly seen Almond Cream at local dessert stores, with the exception that this is prepared from walnuts. The texture is very smooth while the flavour is comforting, which is a good way to end our heavy meal.
An usual selection, the Chilled Mango Cream with Sago and Fresh Peel Pomelo (S$8) has nothing to surprise the diners. A safe bet.
Rants The only entrance to the National Gallery during the evening is at the far east side of the building, closest to City Hall MRT. The building management should open up the main entrance (in the middle of the building) too, to allow for better access to the dining options here.
Will I Return Again? Frankly, we have not been a big fan of Yan during our initial visits here. The new chef and his new dishes are convincing us otherwise now. A revisit for his other new dishes and that Steamed Kampong Chicken sounds like an exciting proposition.
Make your reservation instantly at YAN here.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
#05-02 National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957
Tel: +65 6384 5585
Daily: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10.30pm
Ranted by The Rantee