The Best Peking Duck and Suckling Pig in Singapore at Cantonese Fine Dining Restaurant YÀN (宴)

‘Minimalist’ and ‘elegant’ are the first words that come to mind when we first entered YÀN (宴). White table linens leave no room for doubt that it is indeed fine dining, but make no mistake, YÀN is anything but pretentious. Service is warm and friendly – smiles all around, and the restaurant is alive with sunlight and chatter. More than just a pretty face, YÀN is the latest addition to the newly opened National Gallery Singapore that takes Cantonese fine dining to a whole new level.

YÀN (宴) at National Gallery Singapore

Yan main dining - Review by Gourmet Adventures

Yan Cantonese Restaurant, National Gallery Singapore - private room - Review by Gourmet Adventures

The Chef at helm is Hong Kong born and raised Chef Chan Kung Lai, belting more than 20 years of culinary experience, with a belief that wok hei (Cantonese for “breath of the wok”) is the soul of a dish. It refers to the flavor and tastes imparted by a hot wok onto food during stir-frying, a highlight in Cantonese cuisine.

Executive Chef Chan Kung Lai at YÀN (宴), National Gallery Singapore

Yan Cantonese Restaurant, National Gallery Singapore - Master Chef Chan Kung Lai - Review by Gourmet Adventures

Despite putting the restaurant under intense scrutiny, YÀN passes with much grace and elegance, and it shows – from exquisite food plating featuring complex yet delicate flavors, to subtle finishing touches of modern art incorporating Chinese elements that could easily be overlooked by an untrained eye, everything exudes meticulous care and thought. This does not go unnoticed or unappreciated, and it seems that guests appreciate it as well – the 154-seater restaurant is fully packed on a weekday.

It is nice to be surrounded by laughter and cheer, and ‘nice’ is becomes great when the food arrives. We are started with the restaurant’s signature YÀN Peking duck ($40 for half; $80 for whole), served with house-made crêpe and traditional garnishes. It is decadent; probably the best Peking duck we’ve had in Singapore. Its thinly sliced skin shines in its own jus, perfectly crisp with a gentle underlying layer of fat, just sufficient to make it unctuous without cloying greasiness. Then wrapped in a chewy savory crêpe with cucumber stalks and julienned leek, and dressed in a sweet-savory duck sauce, this creation is gold. It is impossible to turn down a second helping, or a third for that matter.

YÀN Peking duck ($40 for half; $80 for whole) at YÀN (宴), National Gallery Singapore

Yàn Peking duck served with homemade crêpe & traditional garnishes - Review by Gourmet Adventures

But the enjoyment does not end there. A second course ($10 for half; $15 for whole) of the dish awaits – its meat briskly fried in black bean sauce and tossed in chili powder to exude aromatic flavors of Chinese spice, soft hues of pink showcases its tenderness as it should be, robust salty, savory and spicy flavors coming together in unison to please the palate.

There is a glorious piece of steamed sea perch fillet with XO sauce ($15 per serving) that falls apart with just a tickle of the fork, so rich and creamy it melts in the mouth like a slab of Echiré butter on freshly toasted bread. It is beautiful to eat, simple and sumptuous at once. The savoriness notes of XO scythes through the richness of the fish, its flavors bleeding together to form pure umaminess.

Elsewhere, a fried live prawn with crispy noodle ball ($12 per serving) rests in a white porcelain plate – an epitome of elegance. The shell is fried to a crunch; the dish suffused with a thick chicken broth – added at the last minute so it does not dredge the crisp noodle.

Frid prawn with crispy noodle ball ($12) at YÀN (宴), National Gallery Singapore

Yan Cantonese Restaurant, National Gallery Singapore - Fried live prawns with crispy noodle ball - Review by Gourmet Adventures

Another signature of YÀN is its crispy roast suckling pig ($124 for half; $248 for whole; minimum one day advance notice) served three ways – crispy skin, carved shoulder, and oven-baked fillet with lemongrass. The roast suckling pig is incredibly crisp with just the right amount of fat (akin its Peking duck), neither dry nor oily, its juicy meat demanding a little attention – be it the carved shoulder or the oven-baked fillet, both are executed with finesse. It seems YÀN has mastered the art of achieving perfectly crisp skin. Both its Peking duck and roast suckling pig are splendid dishes, noteworthy of mention.

Crispy roast suckling pig served three ways ($124 for half; $248 for whole) at YÀN (宴), National Gallery Singapore

Yan Cantonese Restaurant, National Gallery Singapore - Signature crispy roast suckling pig served in 3 ways (crispy skin, carved shoulder & oven-baked fillet with lemongrass) - Review by Gourmet Adventures

Best of all is double-boiled chicken soup ($22 per serving) – double-boiled soups are what the restaurant takes pride in, and rightfully so. Here, the humble traditional chicken soup is double-boiled with dried clams and scallops for hours to intense sweetness before served in a young coconut; the natural sweetness of young coconut meandering its way into the rich chicken broth, nestling its soft refreshing stillness within. Equally divine is the double-boiled conpoy soup ($98 per serving) – served as an accompaniment to the prized delicacy braised four heads whole abalone and sea cucumber, fish maw and mushroom with braised mini Buddha Jumps Over The Wall. It is hands down the best double-boiled soup in Singapore, with Joyden Canton Kitchen coming in second.

Double-boiled chicken soup in young coconut ($22) at YÀN (宴), National Gallery Singapore

Yan Cantonese Restaurant, National Gallery Singapore - Whole coconut combination - braised hot and sour broth with crab claw and scallop served with a glass of coconut juice and crispy breadstick - Review by Gourmet Adventures

Braised four heads whole abalone with double-boiled conpoy soup ($98) at YÀN (宴), National Gallery Singapore

Yan Cantonese Restaurant, National Gallery Singapore - Braised 4 heads whole abalone and sea cucumber, fish maw and mushroom with braised mini buddha jumps over the wall accompanied with double-boiled conpoy soup - Review by Gourmet Adventures

At the end, there is handmade hot almond cream ($8 per serving), grounded in-house and briskly whisked into a smooth and creamy purée. It is said the restaurant’s Chinese character “宴” refers to “feast”. There is no room for doubt it is so.

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YÀN, #05-02 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Rd., 6384-5585. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; 6-10:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-5pm; 6-10:30pm.

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Categories: Asian, Business Lunches, Cantonese, CBD, Chinese, Communal Dining, Dim Sum, Dining, Family friendly, Fine Dining, High Tea, New & Noted, Restaurants, Reviews

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