Heavily themed restaurants are usually a miss more than a hit, mostly because their food can seem like an afterthought, but every now and then such a place really clicks.
Located at the vibrant Clarke Quay enclave which was one of the buzziest areas pre-pandemic, Yum Sing! is the latest modern casual dining concept to open its doors at the conserved historical landmark along the Singapore River, aiming to serve up authentic Singapore’s heritage food to both locals and foreigners alike.
In conjunction with its soft launch, AVENUE ONE was invited to Yum Sing! for a media tasting session. Keep reading to find out what the restaurant is all about, and perhaps the most important of it all, if Yum Sing! is worth trying.
About Yum Sing!
On paper, Yum Sing! is described as the new restaurant that celebrates the spirit of Singapore, promoting the appreciation of Singaporean culture – from food to entertainment – through a collective platform for local heritage to thrive in modern Singapore, and beyond.
A brainchild of the founder of famed restaurant Putien, Yum Sing! serves an exclusive curation of signature Singapore heritage food all under one roof, featuring quality ingredients and skilful execution by an experienced culinary team who specialises in Singapore food.
Not only does the restaurant offer a culinary experience that melds the rich flavours, culture, and heritage of Singapore, Yum Sing! does so within a fun-filled, nostalgic, and familiar atmosphere that will keep you and your friends entertained while showcasing a slice of Singapore’s spirited 1960s vibe and revelry with the world.
According to Fong Chi Chung, CEO and founder of Putien Holdings Singapore, Yum Sing! is primarily conceived to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Putien’s establishment in Singapore. “We are grateful for the opportunities Singapore has presented since we first brought authentic cuisine from the Fujian Province in China to Singapore, introducing the cuisine across Asia through the Putien brand.
“At the heart of Yum Sing!, we pay tribute to Singaporean cuisine with the aim to promote it across Asia, and the world. While Singapore is often referred to as a food paradise, Singapore heritage food is not as widely recognised worldwide, unlike other Asian cuisines such as Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese that are enjoyed the world over. We hope that the Yum Sing! brand and concept will help to preserve and elevate the status of Singaporean culinary heritage to the world,” he added.
The opening of Yum Sing! couldn’t have been timed any better, as it comes hot on the heels of recent announcement where the hawker culture in Singapore has been officially added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
More than just a restaurant, Yum Sing! has plans to be a major proponent of Singapore’s culinary heritage, arts, and entrepreneurial spirit, offering a ready platform for local chefs, gastronomes, artists, and creators, as well as local brands to meet and execute creative ideas together.
The eatery actively seeks out collaborations with local designers and artists, allowing them to showcase their works to the world; as well as local chefs, heritage master-chef and up-and-coming hawkers to demonstrate their collective culinary prowess and showcase Singapore’s multi-faceted cuisine through seasonal collaborations, curated by prominent culinary consultant and keen evangelist of Singapore cuisine, Jeremy Nguee.
Yum Sing!’s food: Local time-honoured dishes that everyone loves
It’s not just the kitschy 1960s-inspired décor that you’ll love, Yum Sing! celebrates the one thing that makes us truly Singaporean – food. And boy did the restaurant nail it.
Here, gastronomes can savour some of the most loved and authentic Singapore dishes in a comfortable and contemporary restaurant setting, with a touch of nostalgia and the whimsical.
That’s not all, every dish on the menu is served in a format that encourages the culture of community and sharing, which means you’ll get to enjoy a variety of timeless Singaporean fare, whether you show up in small or large groups.
Just because the food is served in a sharing format doesn’t mean it comes with a hefty price tag either. In fact, prices at Yum Sing! start from S$6 for desserts while appetisers range between S$8 and S$12.
Main plates such as Nasi Lemak and Hokkien Mee are all priced at S$10 each, and the most expensive dish you’ll find on the menu is only the crab dishes, which will set you back at S$78 for a plate of Chilli Crab or Black Pepper Crab.
The sharing portion is good news for the AVENUE ONE team who loves to nibble a little bit of everything, and in true Singapore fashion, we kickstarted our tasting session with a beautiful plate of Rainbow Yu Sheng (S$6.80 per pax).
At Yum Sing!, doing a salad toss for prosperity with the must-indulge CNY dish isn’t just reserved for the festive season but offered here all year round. In fact, we’ve been told that customers are frequently encouraged to get their chopsticks and glasses ready at 8pm ever night as the eatery prepares to toss and cheer to prosperity during the Lo-Hey & Yum Sing Hour!
Serving the yu sheng all year round is a brilliant idea, in our opinion, as it gives us a chance to let our non-Singaporean friends experience the classic tradition even when it’s not Chinese New Year season.
After enjoying bites of crunchiness and freshness of the yu sheng, we made way for a variety of sharing appetisers. Also featuring time-honoured favourites, Yum Sing! dishes out an array of starters such as Carrot Cake, Kueh Pie Tee, Prawn Paste Chicken Wings, and Sambal Sotong.
During our tasting session, we got to try the Rojak, Salted Egg Fish Skin, Hokkien Prawn Rolls, Kung Pao Prime Beef Cubes, and Oyster Omelette.
A spoonful of the Rojak (S$8) immediately took us back to our childhood days, when we would chow down the fruit and vegetable salad with our parents. The pungent prawn paste sauce, which is an acquired taste, was generously lathered over the messy mix of fruits and vegetables before topping off with dustings of crushed peanuts.
As we cleared the plate of Rojak, we couldn’t help but agree that it’ll certainly get the stamp of approval from our folks who used to enjoy the unequivocally local dish from the street vendors back in the day.
We also sampled the Hokkien Prawn Rolls (S$10), known to some as hae zho. For the unversed, think of it as the cousin of ngoh hiang, except it contains more prawns!
Traditionally eaten by the Teochew and Hokkien dialect communities during Chinese New Year, the prawn paste – which is made in-house by the way – was deep-fried to perfection and served with sweet sauce, the perfect accompaniment to the crispy dish.
Another highlight we enjoyed was the Kung Pao Prime Beef Cubes (S$12). Juicy beef cubes stir-fried to perfection with Yum Sing!’s signature kung pao seasoning, we couldn’t stop at just one – the meat was simply tender and juicy, and had just enough spicy kick to tickle our taste buds.
In fact, it was one of those dishes that we could just eat on its own with a generous bowl of plain white rice.
Fans of or chien will surely love the Oyster Omelette (S$12) served at Yum Sing! because the restaurant uses huge fresh oysters in its fried egg batter, so that diners can enjoy a substantial amount of the egg-and-seafood dish with every mouthful.
We highly recommend eating the omelette with Yum Sing!’s signature chilli to add a little zing to your taste buds.
After whetting our appetite with a series of yummy appetisers, it’s time for the main dishes to grace our dining table. For the evening, we were served the Hainanese Chicken Rice, Bak Kut Teh, Nasi Lemak, Hokkien Mee, Char Kway Teow, and “Moonlight” Dried Beef Hor Fun.
For the Hainanese Chicken Rice (S$10), premium free-range chicken was served on a bed of fragrant rice together with a side of vegetables. The meat was plenty even for one person and chicken rice was great on its own, but what elevated the dish was Yum Sing!’s trio of sauces which is made fresh in-house every day.
The sticky dark sauce was well-balanced and had just the right amount of umami flavour, while the chilli sauces – a must-have for chicken rice – packed the right amount of heat without taking away the freshness of the steamed chicken.
Meanwhile, the Char Kway Teow (S$10) also came in a substantial portion on an enamel-inspired plate. While it had enough wok hei, we found it slightly too sweet and moist for our liking.
What’s a heritage food restaurant without one of Singapore’s favourite dish, nasi lemak, right?
But while Yum Sing!’s Nasi Lemak (S$10) has the usual coconut rice (which we couldn’t get enough of), crispy fried chicken, slivers of anchovies, peanuts, and slices of cucumber, it made the dish its own with fried quail egg instead of chicken egg. The result is a vibrant yolk that looks sturdy on the outside but is perfectly runny when sliced open.
We also tried the Bak Kut Teh (S$10), which Yum Sing! stews prime ribs with a mixture of herbs and spices to make the bowl of peppery goodness. We especially enjoyed the tender meat that just fell off the bone once we bit into it, as well as the warm and slightly spicy soup that’s perfect for a chilly evening.
There was also the Hokkien Mee (S$10), a signature Singapore tze char dish that any self-proclaimed heritage food restaurant should have on the menu.
The noodles were stir-fried with a generous portion of seafood and meat, and boasted good wok hei that had us reaching for more. Together with the sambal chilli, it was one of the star dishes that everyone enjoyed savouring that evening.
However, the one dish that stood out for the night was the “Moonlight Dried Beef Hor Fun (S$10). Featuring silky smooth ribbons of wok-fried hor fun (rice noodles) that were been glazed with a savoury sauce reduction, the noodles were accompanied by slices of prime beef and a glorious runny egg yolk masquerading as the ‘moon’.
Upon breaking the yolk and mixing it with the noodles, the dish became even silkier to savour and everyone at our table didn’t take long to lap it all up.
Other not-to-be-missed dishes include Coffee Pork Ribs (S$10), Laksa (S$10), and the other world-renowned Singapore culinary creation – Chilli Crab (S$78).
To round up our epicurean journey, we slurped on an ice-cold bowl of refreshing Cheng Tng (S$6), which had longan, barley, agar strips, lotus seeds, and a sweet syrup.
The traditional Singapore sweet treat – which literally means ‘clear soup’ – can also be enjoyed hot if you prefer to have something nutritious and warming.
Yum Sing! also features a well-varied bar programme for a lively libation experience. Here, you will find local-inspired novelty cocktails including the signature Yum Sling (S$18), Yum Sing!’s version of the Singapore Sling, as well as Kopi-O Gao (S$20), a glass of martini with a coffee twist.
Unlike the national classic (which can be a tad sweet for some of us), Yum Sing!’s rendition is a blend of gin, fresh coconut, pineapple juice, orange juice, orange peel, and a touch of old ginger, topped off with a thick layer of foam and a chunky slice of caramelised pineapple.
We certainly loved the zesty drink that packed a punch minus the diabetes-inducing sweetness, but what made us fell in love was the caramelised pineapple on top – it had the perfect bite and tang to go with the inventive cocktail.
Another noteworthy cocktail concoction comes in the guise of Kaya Toast Cocktail (S$18), which features Yum Sing!’s signature pandan cocktail served in a kopitiam cup with – wait for it – a slice of traditional kaya toast.
Oenophiles too, get to enjoy a wide selection of wines from the bar, as well as local craft beers for beer lovers. Meanwhile, non-alcoholic beverages are also available if you don’t plan on imbibing for the night. Choose from options like Michael Jackson (S$6), which is essentially soy milk mixed with grass jelly; Avocado Milkshake (S$8); Pearl Barley (S$6); or a selection of Nanyang coffee and tea (S$4).
Don’t look down on the coffee and tea at Yum Sing! though, as the restaurant uses a specially programmed coffee-making machine to make a cup of coffee or tea at the perfect ratio each time to ensure consistency.
The 1960s Singapore décor that’ll evoke all kinds of nostalgia
With everything that’s been going on these days, all of us could definitely let loose and use some fun – and at Yum Sing!, you can get that plus so much more!
Delicious, moreish hawker and tze char food aside, Yum Sing! is also a place of to whet your visual appetite with its kitschy setting illuminated with colourful neon lights.
The full-service dining and bar space within Yum Sing! offers an experiential journey through the early years of Singapore from 1960s through the 1980s, taking inspiration from its Chinese name, 新世界, or “New World”.
Responsible for the interior design concept at Yum Sing! is Benjamin Kim, creative director of Genius Loci Pte Ltd, who shared, “The restaurant décor is reminiscent of an era marked by great epicurean enjoyment, merry making, and good cheer, inspired by Singapore’s greatest amusement parks of a bygone era – New World ‘新世界’, Great World ‘大世界’, and Gay World ‘豪华世界’. Guests and host get together in celebration, eat, drink, and be merry within a familiar, nostalgic, yet contemporary setting.”
In fact, your experiential journey actually begins right after you stepped into Yum Sing!, at the retail boutique that showcases snacks and bites that are truly Singaporean, reflecting a modern interpretation of the traditional provision shop.
A curated selection of local brands that can be found at Yum Sing!’s retail boutique include Kele, Compendium Spirits, Old Seng Choong, Pin Tea, and Prima Taste.
The bar area, which is situated in the centre of restaurant, also invokes some fun, Instagram-worthy experience with the restaurant’s Chinese name “新世界” decked on the bar’s ceiling in vibrant neon lights.
Meanwhile, the long bar offers a visual showmanship of cocktail making, or even for bartenders to drop a friendly local greeting every time a guest approaches.
For the ultimate feast for the eyes, check out the main dining hall centrepiece which features a carnival-like tentage with whimsical “flying” merry-go-round horses.
To further captivate diners with sounds, lights, and theatrical experience, Yum Sing! has also set up a performance stage for live entertainment such as stand-up comedy, seasonal lion dance, and getai, which will likely take place when Safety Management Measures are more relaxed.
Facing the stage is a large street art mural by Singaporean graffiti fine artist, Ceno2, to reflect the creativity and artistic expression of one of Singapore’s many local artists.
Meanwhile, material and design details at Yum Sing! were carefully chosen for its history. Most of the eatery’s backdrops are made from recycled timber panels taken from old shop houses and wooden boats, while basic retro window grills from the 1970s are dressed up with fluted glass to form some of the dining tables.
You’ll also find old-styled lacquered shop signages, one-of-a-kind vintage lamps, Ipoh marble table tops, and even printed perforated advertisement boards repurposed to decorate the ceilings.
From the loud, tongue-in-cheek décor to the smorgasbord of Singapore’s most-loved hawker and tze char dishes, there’s truly never a dull moment at Yum Sing!. We say, gather your closest friends and head over to this restaurant for a carnival of fun for all of your five senses.
Yum Sing! is located at 3 River Valley Road, #01-06/07, Clarke Quay (Block B), Singapore 179021. The restaurant currently opens daily (including public holidays) for dinner from 4pm to 10.30pm.
To book a table or make enquiries, contact Yum Sing! at 6261 6463 or email [email protected]. You can also visit the website or follow Yum Sing! on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates, deals, and promotions.
Photos by Yum Sing! and AVENUE ONE.