Sweet Things- Vanilla Slice/Banoffee Cream Pie- Saga Lyte

Makers Dozen Food Hall, the Exchange Building, 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket

Wanting an arvo pick-me-up, we headed to our new favourite ‘go-to’ (Makers Dozen Food court), this time to try out Andy Bowdy’s Saga Lyte pastry store!

Before getting there, I was telling my wife that I was craving a good old Vanilla slice, so naturally when we saw one on offer, I grabbed it! Vanilla Slice- $8.50.

While my wife couldn’t pass on the Banoffee Cream Pie ($8.50).

The humble Vanilla slice re-imagined, I’d say was the best description of Bowdy’s creation. What you’d usually expect as the top, i.e. the layer of yellow passion fruit icing, now that was the base of the slice, spread with the custard layer, then a layer of cream piped onto it, topped off by a thin layer of puff pastry and crunchy caramel bits. It was rich, the custard layer was like eating a dense vanilla ice cream, so prepared to put in an extra hour at the gym to burn off the calories from this decadent dessert.

The Banoffee Cream Pie had a thick chocolate tart base smeared with a layer of salted caramel. Cutting a good cross section including the base and the creamy filling was a must – allowing the salty/bitter base to cut through the sweetness of the creams. The pie filling consisted of fresh banana layered on top of the base, followed by a creamy banana mousse and a cream which was similar to the cream off the Vanilla slice.  Again, a ‘lyte’ in calorie meal for dinner is recommended to off-set some of the consumed calories from this wicked tart.

All in all, a nice treat when paired with a cup of their coffee! And if you’re keeping track, that’s 5 from 12 offerings we’ve tried from the Maker’s Dozen.   

Chat Thai- Haymarket

The original and the best!

I’m pretty good with my history of the CBD, being a kid who grew up hanging around the city streets from the early 90s – present. But even I have no clue what is the answer to this question, which came first? Chat Thai? Or the establishment of Thainatown in Campbell St? But not knowing the answer to this chicken or egg riddle, I still think Chat Thai is the original and the best!

As much as we hate waiting in line for food, we were willing to make this exception if it was for the best Thai in all of Australia! And when we were seen to our table for two, we then had to make the difficult decision of choosing what to eat/drink. So many choices, so many choices!

We ended up ordering a drink to share (Lodt Shong Singapore- $5.50); for my wife the Guay Tiew Larb ($12.00); and for me the Sokho Thai noodle soup ($12.00).

As we waited for the food to arrive, we took in the ambiance- each table was full of happy patrons all enjoying their late Sunday lunch. And listening in on conversations around us, each table of diners were all speaking a different language- Eat Thai has transcended all cultural barriers!

After a short wait, our drink arrived.

The Lodt Shong Singapore is a coconut milk with silky pandan dumplings. Sipping it through the thick straw, the flavours of the coconut and pandan all mixed together into a tasty concoction- neither coconut nor pandan overwhelmed the other flavour. And what are pandan dumplings, I hear you ask? Imagine the Chinese pudding on the square Styrofoam trays? Picture that tasty treat, but sliced up into thin 2 inch strips and poured into a glass of coconut milk. Each sip would bring up a chilled mouthful of milk and 2-3 strips of pandan flavoured jelly to chew on. Yum!

The first of the mains to arrive was my Sokho Thai soup noodle, it was like a ‘Special noodle soup’ from a Canto noodle soup store i.e. it had everything in it! I believe there were 2 different types of fish balls (one fried, the other not), minced pork, sliced pork, sliced fish tofu, peanuts, herbs, bean sprouts, and a generous serving of thin noodles, all of which was floating in a hot and sour soup, which was at the perfect level of spicyness! I enjoyed this dish, because it had a little bit of everything, making each mouthful interesting.

My wife’s Guay Tiew Larb was thin rice noodles, with minced chicken and pork offal, in spicy and sour larb flavoured soup. Her soup was a spice level higher than mine, as there were several times she had to down-tools and clear her sinuses. Haaha.  She described it like a typical Larb, but served as a soup noodle. But she was happy with her dish, as she’s a fan of the ‘nose to tail’ approach, not wasting any part of an animal if it was remotely edible.

Our end verdict? 5 from 5 Stars! 3 from 3 for food (each element on our plate was perfect! We couldn’t fault it at all!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (although we had to wait a little, however the service staff kept checking up on us, giving us an ETA on when our table was available and she seemed about to go above and beyond to see to our needs); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (A bustling restaurant is enough for full marks, but they also had a catchy Thai pop playlist playing as well!); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Under $30 for 2 mains and a drink to share!? That is such great value, you honestly can’t get this level of quality for this price anywhere else in Sydney!)).

In conclusion, we haven’t given a restaurant the full 5 stars in a long while, as when it comes down to it- we’re pretty stingy scorers. But when we have a totally satisfying meal, which ticks all the boxes? Yeah, we’re more than happy to sing their praises and award them with the highest honour. 5/5! In Sydney we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Thai, but in our opinion Chat Thai will always be the original and the best!

Chat Thai- Sunday 8 September (5.0 Stars).


PH: (02) 8317 4811

20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 10am – 11.30pm, 12midnight – 2am.

Two Sticks- Haymarket

Are the chopsticks really the most distinctive feature of the two sticks experience?

Oddly on a Friday night, Two Sticks seemed like a quiet haven from the hustle and bustle of da city- with music playing at low tones, patrons sparsely sprinkled around the collection of round tables, and the diners all having their low volume conversations.

It has been several years since we’ve last dined at the Sticks, and we noticed a few changes i.e. the store has now taken over the shop to its right; they’ve introduced a ‘Value meal’ – a choice of A and B, or A and C; and we had a debate about whether or not the pots had changed as well?

But after labouring over the Value meal ( a choice of 3 soup noodles from section A; a choice of a handful of sides in section B; or a choice of one of 2 drinks in section C), in the end we decided to just order from the regular menu. I ordered the Signature Rice Noodle Soup ($13.80); my wife wanted the Tomato Beef but they’d run out, so she ended up ordering the Pork Ribs Rice Noodle Soup ($13.80); and a serving of the Spicy Chicken Wings to share ($5.80 for 5 mid-wings). Orders and payment were made at the front counter and tap water was a self-service affair.

After returning with her water in a plastic disposable cup, we sat back and took in Two Sticks – 6 years since it first opened in 2013. At that time, Two Sticks was a recommendation from my good mate, his wife was a trending Foodie and had been invited as a guest to dine at the Sticks when it first opened.

At the time, their uniqueness was the fact that your food was served up un-cooked, and in front of you the waiter would tip your plate of uncooked ingredients into your piping hot pot of soup (in the process, cracking a quail egg in as well) and you wait as the once boiling hot soup cooked your meat and egg to a level where it was safe to eat.

But those were the days of Two Sticks in the mid-2010s, these days the pot is served up with all your ingredients already in your pot all cooked and ready to eat (although the ceramic pot is still hot enough to garner a ‘hot pot’ warning from the waitress after she placed it in front of us).

The point of argument between my wife and I, was that I swear the pots used to be taller, less squat, and were made from terracotta, instead of these ceramic squat pots? *Shrugs*. But armed with a long-handled soup ladle and your two sticks, you go fishing for food from your squat narrow-opening pot, like ice fishing it is!

In my Signature Rice Noodle dish, there were circular rice noodles, strips of bean curd, coriander, black fungus, thin sliced rare beef, and 2 (yes, count them!) – 2 hardboiled quail eggs! All of which were floating in a pot of tasty thin soup.

My wife’s Pot is the one pictured above, she had all the same core ingredients as I, however her soup was red tinged due to the spiciness, and instead of having rare beef she had pork ribs. Many many pieces they gave her, they did.

And the wings, it reminded me of the charcoal grilled chicken wings you used to be able to get from Pizza Hut? The skin was charred to a crisp, and dusted with chilli powder. Mmmmmm.

Our verdict? 4.0 From 5 Stars! (2.5 from 3 for Food (everything was tasty and they were very generous with their portions, my pot felt like the magical pot! There was always another spoonful of food, just when you thought you were finished!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (all the staff were polite and efficient); 0 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the music was only playing in the front half of the store, and the shop fittings felt a little tired and worn after 6 years); and 1.0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (2 quail eggs? Ridiculous! And recently we’ve eaten at a few restaurants at this price point, but I’ve left feeling the most full and satisfied after our time at Two Sticks!)).

In conclusion, after 5 and 1 years, Two Sticks does feel a bit frayed around the edges, and the number of clientele on a Friday night (it was probably 60% full) was a reflection of this. But after all these years, the quality of food has remained at the same high level, although not served up in the same way as before. And I don’t know why, each time I think of their name Two Sticks, I always think to myself……Really? Are the chopsticks really the most distinctive feature of the Two Sticks experience? If I was in the marketing department, I’d suggest ‘Squat Pot – Long-handle Ladle’ (spoken out loud in the same cadence as Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo- by the Blood Hound Gang), or perhaps ‘2 Eggs’? As who else serves you 2 quail eggs in each serving of food? Count them! 2!  Ridiculous!

Two Sticks- Friday 16 August (4.0 Stars)

PH: 0420 944 532

694 George Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 11.30am – 9pm

A Weekend of Happy Returns

What are long weekends all about? Chilling out and eating! And boy did I eat and eat this weekend!

Hong Kong Kitchen– Sydney CBD (Thursday dinner)

It all started as soon as I downed tools for the long-weekend (taking Friday off to make it a super long weekend!). I was catching up with my folks, so considering that they were from the ‘old country’ and hadn’t tried Hong Kong Kitchen before – I thought it would be a nice treat to take them to an authentic Hong Kong Char Chaan Teng. I didn’t need to study the menu as I already knew what I wanted, I naturally went with my fave – the Baked Pork Chop Rice with a cup of hot Góngsīk náaihchà to warm-up my freezing bones. My dad had the baked fish pasta dish, while my mum ordered the Corn and Chicken Rice. I think they were pleased with their Chinese-Western style dishes, while my pork chop was an inch thick, but yet so tender! And being covered in melt-y cheese and tomato sauce…..come to think of it, it actually reminds me of the good old Chicken Parmigiana. Needless to say I went home very satisfied- while my parents kicked on to check-out Vivid on their own.

Belles Hot Chicken– Haymarket (Saturday lunch)

And after some retail therapy on the Saturday morning (basically getting warmer clothing to ward off the cold) we finally got a chance to head back to Belles Hot! I had been craving chicken and waffles for weeks and weeks now, so it was a no-brainer that I elected the 3 pieces of chicken drumstick with waffles! But the only thing I had to toss-up between, was the level of heat which I thought I’d be able to tolerate (on a 1-6 scale). And since I’d tried ‘Hot’ (Level 3) and survived, I thought it was time to up the ante- electing ‘Really Hot’ (Level 4), while there were still ‘F-in’ hot’ and ‘Sex Panther’ levels awaiting me if I was man enough. My wife elected Wings and Fries at the ‘Hot’ level and to wash that all down we ordered the Arnold Palmer house drink which was a blend of homemade lemonade and homemade ice tea. Yum!

‘Very hot’ was definitely a level reserved for guys & gals with a good spice tolerance. I knew I was in for a battle when after the first 2 bites my lips started to swell up, my mouth was in physical pain (anywhere the chilli powder/oil had touched), and each of my facial orifices were leaking its respective fluids (not a pretty sight). After drumstick one, even placing the fluffy soft waffle with its moreish sticky syrup into my mouth, caused physical pain on contact. And I love my wife so so much! She offered to swap me one of her Hot wings, for one of my Really Hot drumsticks, to save me from my self-inflicted torture. She said the look on my face, reminded her of the time when I took on the hottest burrito challenge and almost died from it. Haaha.

In the end, we were both suffering with burning mouths. And when we looped back to eat the milder ‘Hot’ wing, in comparison the wings tasted like child’s play! You could almost gift the drumlet to a toddler to teethe on! Haaha. But we survived to eat another meal….. Only a handful of hours afterwards. Hehehe.

Golden Century– Haymarket (Saturday dinner)

As my wife’s uncle from the States was visiting Sydney for the first time – the proper place to dine at was at Chinatown’s best Seafood restaurant- Golden Century! With my folks along for the ride, it was lucky that we had made a table booking for 5, although with the reservation we still had to wait for at least 10 minutes before our table was ready. And as my dad is a planner, he had already devised a list of dishes from studying their online menu, which he dictated to the waitress to take-down.  We had a good variety of meats (pork, duck and chicken), a good selection of veg (broccoli, asparagus, and tofu), and of course seafood (scallops and crab).

After the waitress had taken our orders, the food literally came out faster than we were seen to our table! In less than 10 minutes all 6 dishes were served-up, just as we finished our complementary soups. All of the food were tasty (although a little bit temperature cold), and there was so much food that we each had to take it for the team to clear the plates. The scallops were the highlight for me, they were large and fat, but you could tell that they were originally frozen (Mr. Wong being the Scallop bench-mark where they serve their’s fresh). But on the whole, the food was still a notch above your usual Chinatown Cantonese restaurants – and we liked the complementary desserts, which included fresh fruit, sweet soups, and baked/deep fried goods. And after our dinner together, we headed out to watch the 9pm Darling Harbour fireworks.

Sydney Pork Rolls– Haymarket (Sunday lunch)

As we were planning to have all-you-can-eat hotpot for Sunday dinner, we thought we’d better have a lighter lunch. Our go-to budget light lunch venue is Banh Mis from Sydney Pork Roll on George Street! Their shop has gone through a bit of a refurb, as the service counter is now almost pushed right out onto the street, now like a hole in the wall where you place your orders and watch your banh mi being created from scratch (the ladies asking you if you want chilli in your rolls). The humble pork roll has gone up in price to the round figure of 5 bucks, but where else can you be completely filled for $5? Today we just went with their traditional pork rolls without chilli (still a little traumatised from Belles Hot) and we took these babies back home to have.

We have to admit that the Banh Mis seemed to have less filling within them, compared to their $4.70 days. In the past shallots, coriander and pickled carrots would be falling out of the roll. And the paper-bag in which it came in, would be soggy from all the soya sauce and mayo which would leak out of it. But oddly this time our paper bags were dry and drippings-free. Despite the price hike and seemingly less ingredients, they still hit the spot!

Munich Brauhaus– The Rocks (Sunday Dinner)

After showing our uncle around the city on the ‘I’m Free Walking Tour’ which lasted from 2.30pm to 5pm, the tour finishing up at the Rocks – so it didn’t make any sense to try get back out of Circular Quay with Vivid about to start in a matter of minutes. So we decided to ditch the plans for hotpot back in Chinatown, and we ended up having Bavarian at The Rocks! But I have to admit, I was pretty devastated to find out that the iconic Lowenbrau Keller was gone, taken over by ‘The Bavarian’ chain of restaurants- the Lowenbrau replacement, named Munich Brauhaus. The signs which you could tell that they’re not the same, is when you hear the staffs’ Aussie accents and the music they played was just popular pop-music. But we tried not to let these changes dampen our night, so best way to combat disappointment was with a platter consisting of 5 different ways to consume pork (sausages; slow-cooked with crackling; the whole knuckle; braised with smoky sauce; and inside a fluffy Chinese Bao). And for good measure we ordered sides of sauerkraut and red cabbage, and as starters we had a soft pretzel each.

The food was soo good! The pretzel hit the spot after an afternoon of walking and building up a healthy appetite- the pretzel was quite salty from the large grains of salt and the salty melted butter. And the pork in all its forms were tasty! The star being the pork belly bao, while I’m sure the table next to us were able to hear us crunch into the pork crackling from the slow cooked pork belly.

The set menu for 3 was so large that we didn’t even attempt to tuck into the star of the platter, the pork knuckle, which was larger than my fist. In the end we had to doggy bag the pounds of meat, hopefully the once crunchy crackling wouldn’t be too disappointing after a night of refrigeration and microwave-ation. And when we were done, we shuffled our way along Circular Quay, following the seemingly hundreds of thousands of people who had also elected this night to check-out Vivid.

Now that’s some crazy 72 hours of eating! Now what I have to look forward to, is to squeeze back into my work pants on Tuesday morning. *Cries into hands*. But that’s a true ‘Weekend of Happy Returns’!

Yubisu Bar & Grill- Haymarket

Best lunch sets in the city? Really? Really really?

Ok, here are the five reasons why I think we’ve never previously stumbled upon Yubisu Bar & Grill before, located on Dixon street in between Hay and Goulburn streets:

One. Obstacles & Crowds– due to the various obstacles and crowds along this stretch of Dixon, by percentages we are less likely to walk along this stretch as we want to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, so we usually avoid this part of Chinatown.

Two. Familiarity/unfamiliarity– Because lower Dixon is the heart of old Chinatown, we presume we know what is along this stretch so we’re not looking out for anything new popping up, but now that we’re looking out for stuff we’re realising we’re actually not that familiar with the shops that line this part of Dixon.  

Three. Nothing good is along this stretch of Dixon– This part of Dixon is known for random clothing stores and touristy stores, but not known for trendy restaurants in the past 5 years, at least we haven’t dined at any of these restaurants in between Hay and Goulburn.

Four. Width– Because Dixon Street is relatively wide we usually walk along the centre of the pedestrian mall, so with the obstacles along Dixon street, you don’t actually see much of the shopfronts.

Five. Keep left– But if we ever do walk along one side of Dixon, we would usually keep left while walking towards Hay street, so we would rarely see the shops along the left hand side when walking towards Goulburn street so the odds are against us walking by Yubisu Bar & Grill (as after the slow passage down, we would usually use another route to get home).

So for these reasons, on this Sunday afternoon we noticed Yubisu Bar & Grill for the first time; as we were studying every stores’ signage as we walked, as we still hadn’t made up our minds what we wanted for lunch after finding Gumshara packed out as usual.

**Note: Earlier this very morning I was telling my wife about Yakiniku (Japanese grilled meats), so when we saw a Japanese restaurant with the words ‘Grill’ in its name, we naturally went in to check-it-out.

Yubisu Bar & Grill is a restaurant located on the second floor, but once you enter the unmanned ground floor foyer you already know that there’s something special about this place! As echoing around the foyer was trendy jazzy music, and as you checked out the list of lunch specials and followed the music up the stairs, I felt I was being lured by the Pied Piper led along by my sense of smell and sound!

After a short wait we were seen to our table, two thick menu folders were placed before us and ordering was done through the iPad which was balancing on our table.

As we were lured in by their Lunch Sets, we focused most of our attention on that section and I settled on the Sunday Lunch Special- Japanese Curry Rice Lunch Set ($18.00, normally $22.50), while my wife settled on the BBQ Pork Belly lunch set ($19.50).

And as we waited for our orders to be processed, we checked out the restaurant. On one wall was a mural of Mount Fuji, and on the ceiling were cartoon-y prints of cherry-blossoms. And their chairs! OMG! It had to be the most comfortable restaurant chair I’ve sat in, in a long time! It had padded armrests at the perfect height, and the back support was equally perfect! Like it was custom designed for me! A 5 foot Asian male! Ahhhhhhh! 

On paper the Lunch Sets seemed a little pricy, but considering that you get everything you need in that single order i.e. main, sides, a drink, and dessert! It’s actually quite reasonably priced, as there is no need to fork-out any more cash. Hmmmm, maybe that’s the definition of a Lunch Set? *Shrugs*.

My lunch set – Japanese Curry (with Crispy Chicken Katsu) came in two halves. On one tray was a stone sizzling bowl containing my rice, curry and actually two types of fried meats (chicken and beef). The curry was what you’d expect from Japanese curry, and having it served in stone guaranteed that right to the last bite 45 minutes later, the food was still just as hot as the first bite! Mmmmmmm.

On the other tray was the sides (green salad, miso soup, Agedashi (fried tofu), green tea Tiramisu, and a choice of hot or cold green tea (which came in advance of your meal)). I powered through my hot meal first before digging into the tofu; and rounded out the meal with the dessert! And I was so full and it was very satisfying – meeting every need in the Maslow dining pyramid of needs (if there isn’t one, Maslow should have developed one!).

My wife’s lunch set was the BBQ Pork Belly. The pork were thinly sliced (like what you’d usually get on top of a bowl of ramen), but this was cooked over a charcoal grill so it was smoky in flavour. But unfortunately the meat was a little tough, so it was hard to tear the pieces of meat into smaller, more easy to consume pieces. So you end up pushing the entire piece of meat into your mouth at one go, which for a lady it was a bit un-lady like. Hey! I did it as well when I tried a piece, needing to cover my mouth with the napkin as I slowly chewed my way through the meat. So it was a little bit uncomfortable for both genders of diners to eat.

Our end verdict, 4.5 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (I was pleased with each element of my lunch set, and although the grilled meat was a bit difficult to eat- but it still had all the right flavours!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (like all Japanese restaurants, the service was flawless); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the look and feel of the restaurant was high-class, considering it was located in the oldest part of Chinatown- where most of the stores are a little run-down. And their mood music? It set a trendy cool vibe….. Dare I say…..it felt like Melbourne?); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Under 40 bucks for 2 people, where you got everything you could possibly ask for in a meal? That’s a bargain!)).

In conclusion, we were pleasantly surprised to find a trendy and quality Japanese restaurant here on lower Dixon, just when we least expected it! #Expect the unexpected! And these days in the competitive lunch specials market, where all restaurants want your lunch dollars – I think we’ve just found our go-to restaurant when we’re looking for a quality and affordable lunch set meal! #Blessed!

Yubisu Bar & Grill- Sunday 2 June (4.5 Stars)

PH: (02) 8880 5536

55 Dixon Street, Haymarket

Mon-Wed 12 noon – 4pm, 5.30pm – 11pm

Thurs-Fri 12 noon – 4pm, 5.30pm – 12 midnight

Sat 12 noon – 12 midnight

Sun 12 noon – 11pm

Booking is advisable.

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