Tucked away in a little corner of National Gallery Singapore, Yàn is a sleek space that has served up fine Cantonese cuisine to diners since its opening in 2015. Decked out in traditional Chinese motifs and elegant art pieces, the restaurant is welcoming with a warm palette of woods as a backdrop to the vibrantly colored space dividers in the dining hall inspired by silk weaving and a feature ceiling dotted with over 400 hand-blown glass pieces.
But if you’ve been here, you’d have seen all this. What’s changed this time around is a someone new helming the kitchen — Hong Kong chef Lai Chi Sum, who started out in Singapore as part of the team at Cairnhill Hotel’s Crystal Jade Restaurant in 1993.
In his hands, Yàn expands its menu with hearty, homestyle meals featuring regional, seasonal ingredients tossed into familiar Cantonese recipes. One highlight from the new selection is the baked crab shell ($18/person), an intriguing recipe with flower crab meat cooked simmering in stock, onions, and bechamel sauce, then crammed generously into the empty crab shell, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and sent to the oven.
Also, try the tender and flavorful baked pork ribs sautéed with a sauce made of black olives and plum sauce ($13.80/person), and the steamed kampong chicken ($25/half, $50/whole) topped with a mix of scallion, spring onion, ginger, and salt that’s deliciously fried in peanut oil. Both may sound like rather standard dishes, but they’re elevated here with the touch of chef Lai.
Besides the new additions, signatures like Peking roast duck ($45/half, $90/whole), crispy roast suckling pig served three ways with crispy skin, carved shoulder, and oven-baked fillet ($130/half, $260/whole), and the impeccable steamed thousand layer beancurd with honey-glazed pork, mushroom, and gingko nuts ($22/small, $33/medium, $44/large) remain on the menu.
However, with Yàn’s sophisticated surroundings and intricately plated dishes, there must be a price to pay, and that comes straight out of your pocket. So unless you’re the type who doesn’t think twice about dropping a couple hundred bucks on a family meal, you’d best stick to business lunches or special celebrations here.