Nan Yang Tea Club- Haymarket

More like Nan Yang Soup Club…….

It had been a while since I last perused the ‘New’ restaurant collection in Zomato, but scrolling down the list the other day I noticed that Yoomi, GoGo Music café, and Nan Yang Tea Club were the latest new openings in da-city. So after checking Koomi off the list and after going for a stroll around Darling Harbour, we returned back to Chinatown and Market City’s 1909 dining precinct for a late-ish lunch.

Somehow I got it into my mind that Nan Yang Tea Club was a Singaporean restaurant? *Shrug*. So I was uber confused when fact-checking for this write-up, I read that Market City’s own web-site had described Nan Yang’s as a traditional Malaysian restaurant? Official retraction: “Sorry babe for misleading you, as all day long I had sold it to you as Singaporean”. *Hangs head in shame *……… (End apology). If I knew sooner, we probably wouldn’t have come here, as we only had Malaysian last week at Mamak! But double checking where I was led to believe that they’re serving up Singaporean food, I tracked down the Zomato reviewer who had described it as a Singaporean restaurant (when Zomato labelled it as ‘Asian fusion’). Goes to show, you just can’t trust bloggers……… But hey? Maybe calling Singaporean food “Malaysian cuisine” was ok? As it’s interchangeable? *Shrug*.

But when we sat down (thinking it was a Singaporean restaurant), we were pretty impressed by the store’s authentic décor- the seats were these short rotund porcelain stools, the tables were marble-topped, nice wooden floorboards, and the general vibe was  authentic right down to the Singaporean rickshaw (or was it Malaysian? *shrugs*).

And after browsing their menu, we elected their signature dish- Bak Kut Teh ($12.90); a serving of Hainanese chicken rice ($14.90); and a serving of Wat Tan Hor with seafood ($14.90).

We forgot though to check if they actually served a vast choice of teas, being a tea club and all…… But we had skipped over the drinks list as we had already had our beverage for the day, courtesy of Koomi.

The first dish to arrive was the Bak Kut Teh (a broth with baby-back pork ribs – we ladled the soup into our cute little bowls with equally cute little soup spoons, drizzling the accompanying sauce and raw garlic pieces into our bowls for added flavour. Yum! The broth was rich in flavour, with hints of ginger and chilli, and when you got a piece of raw garlic, you definitely were reminded that ‘we don’t usually eat raw garlic’, but perhaps we should, as it was a burst of flavour! I didn’t really know what to expect from this soup, but the baby-back ribs actually reminded me of how my mum makes soup. The pork had been broiled in the soup for many hours, so that the meat fell off the bone when you picked at it. Yum!

The next dish to be served up was the Hainanese chicken rice, some say the telltale of a good South-east Asian restaurant is by the quality of its Hainanese chicken rice dish. As it’s simple, but so classical that it’s hard to hide if you’re serving up a sub-standard version of this classic! And we can see why Nan Yang’s is considered a Fusion restaurant, as the rice was served up in a unique way. Arancini balls anyone? The size and shape of each rice ball (5 in total) were perfect! So you could easily pick them up using your chop-sticks, fitting perfectly into your petite rice bowl, looking like you’d just got a perfectly sized serving of rice right from the kitchen! The rice on its own was flavoursome enough (rice cooked in chicken stock), so much so that I had my third and last ball plain, it was that tasty! And the boiled chicken was perfectly tender, rubbing the ginger/garlic sauce and chilli relish into the white cut chicken pieces- you could add a little or a lot to appease your taste. Mmmmmm. For this dish on its own, we score it 5/5 Stars! And it was served with a small bowl of chicken broth with goji berries. #Healthy!

Our last dish to make its way onto our table was the Wat Tan Hor with seafood (the dishes actually came out in well-spaced out intervals – felt like different courses). By this stage my wife was already raising the white flag admitting defeat, as she was already full from the first 2 dishes. And all of the dishes at Nan Yang’s were quite large in size, considering that they gave off the vibe of being one of those restaurants which placed high prices on meagre portions. But looks were deceiving, as all of their dishes were reasonably priced and serving sizes which resembled dining-out back in the early 00s before eating out became ex-y. So as we scooped the thick flat noodles into our bowls, sharing the seafood equally amongst ourselves (a mussel, 2 prawns, and 3 pieces of cuttlefish each), we ladled the sauce (it was more like a clear soup) over the contents of each bowl to top it off. The dish was unfortunately only so so, the noodles were kind of bland; it did have a smoky flavour from being wok fried, however it lacked the hit of spices which you’d get from “Malaysian” food (as I was still of the belief that I was at a Singaporean restaurant). And at this exact moment, I was lecturing my wife in my epiphany in the difference between Malaysian and Singaporean food i.e. Singaporean food was more like Cantonese food due to the Chinese influences on the peninsular. And I rested my case, when I pointed out that the Nan Jang menu didn’t have any curry options, because this wasn’t Malaysian food!  It was Singaporean food of course! I would have sat back, triumphant in the fact that we had just had our very first dining experience at a Singaporean restaurant! But of course I didn’t…… because my stool had no back (at that point I was completely convinced that it was different from Malaysian restaurants). But I feel all silly now, now knowing that Nan Yang is just another Malaysian restaurant! Sooo embarrassed!

But back to the food…… We tried our best to finish everything that was placed before us. We managed to finish the Hainanese chicken, we picked out all the seafood and veg from amongst the Hor, but we did leave a large portion of the actual noodles behind. My wife said she was so full that I had to roll her out of the restaurant, like one of the porcelain stools when placed on its rotund rolly side.

Our end verdict! 4.0 Stars from 5! (2 from 3 for Food (as the food was really good, but the flavours were  subtle, so a little unremarkable when you reflect back); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (as all of the staff were polite, efficient and softly spoken); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (although they didn’t have any music playing, but the look and feel of the restaurant was something else!); and 1 from 1 for Value for money (the servings were large and priced a few bucks under what you’d usually pay for, so that’s VfM in my eyes!)).

In the end, Malaysian or Singaporean, it felt like a real authentic experience! And it was a surprise to find something this affordable in the swanky 1909 Dining precinct. I’m yet to see the connection between the name ‘Tea club’ to the actual concept in the store, but with 2 dishes served with an intended soup, and another with an unintended soupy sauce- we didn’t dine at a tea club today in my opinion, but we had an enjoyable meal at a soup club! I feel 5% healthier for it! “Mum! I got my Tong Sui today!”

Nan Yang Tea Club- Saturday 1 June (4.0 Stars).

PH: (00) 9123 4567

Shop 3, 1909 Dining Precinct, Market City, 9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket

Fri-Wed 10am – 7pm

Thurs 10am – 8pm

Bookings are advised

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