An 8-course yao shan meal guided by TCM principles?! We’re surprised it’s tasty and not at all bitter

When I think about foods that use TCM herbs, the bitter taste comes to mind. So when Yàn announces that it has launched two Wellness Menus developed with guidance from Zhongjing Traditional Chinese Medicine that highlight the principles of yao shan (药膳) in the dishes, I was slightly apprehensive.

For the uninitiated, yao shan refers to a culinary approach guided by the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

For instance, cordyceps flowers helps strengthen the liver and kidneys and wolfberry helps support the immune system, according to TCM principles.

By melding herbs and ingredients with beneficial properties with Cantonese culinary techniques, Yàn aims to offer a spread of nourishing fare that can help balance the body’s vital energy.

Yàn Wellness Menu review

Yan Menu B Dishes
From top left, clockwise: Wok-Fried King Prawns in Hawthorn Sauce, Crispy Skin Roasted Duck marinated with Dried Mandarin Peel, and Steamed Chilean Cod Fillet with Cordyceps Flower.

I tried the eight-course Wellness Menu, which started with the Crispy Skin Roasted Duck marinated with Dried Mandarin Peel. This was accompanied by Chinese Pancake, Cucumber, and Spring Onions – just like how you’d consume peking duck traditionally.

I was glad this is the first dish of the menu, which gave me a good idea of what I was about to expect; nothing that was bitter or hard to swallow, definitely.

This dish replaced hoisin sauce (which is usually what’s served with peking duck) with mandarin peel sauce, giving it a sweet and refreshing touch. Of course, mandarin peel is also said to nourish the spleen and lungs.

The next dish was the Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Immunity-boosting Herbs. This was honestly the only dish on the menu that looked like it could have been recommended by a TCM practitioner.

The herbs in the soup include milkvetch root, siler root, atractylodes macrocephala, lotus seed, wolfberries, red dates, and candied dates. These are double-boiled with chicken and pork ribs for four hours, so it’s super flavourful.

A herbal soup mix curated by the physicians of Zhongjing Traditional Chinese Medicine, this soup is designed to help strengthen the spleen, reinforce and harmonise the vital energy in the body for summer.

My favourite dish in the menu had to be the Braised Slice Abalone with Eggplant in Oyster Sauce.

In this dish, the eggplant was cut into batons and par-cooked using the guo you (过油) technique, which means that it was shallow-fried over gentle heat. The Australian abalone was braised in a superior stock for three to four hours. Then, the eggplant was cooked with the abalone in the braising stock so that the flavours could amalgamate.

So which part of this dish is yao shan? Well, eggplant contains potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and antioxidants, all of which can help reduce risk of heart disease.

Another dish I enjoyed was the Steamed Chilean Cod Fillet with Cordyceps Flower.

Steamed to the perfect temperature, the cod fillet was enhanced with the subtle taste of cordycep flowers and shredded ginger (both of which were lightly seasoned with salt, soya sauce, and hua tiao wine). The light seasoning helped allow the freshness of the cod to come through.

Yan Hawthorn Prawns
Wok-Fried King Prawns in Hawthorn Sauce 

If you like to try dishes that are more unique, the Wok-Fried King Prawns in Hawthorn Sauce may be up your alley.

While Cantonese-style fried prawns are typically cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce made with light soya sauce, sugar and ketchup, this was replaced with the Housemade Hawthorn Sauce, made with dried hawthorn fruit, garlic, sugar, and vinegar.

It’s an interesting way of presenting the hawthorn berries, which are known for their cardiovascular benefits in TCM.

Yan Chilled Mao Shan Wang Durian Pudding
Chilled Mao Shan Wang Durian Pudding

The meal was rounded up with the Chilled Mao Shan Wang Durian Pudding. Durians are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, and when consumed in moderation can help fight free radicals.

This chilled pudding is topped with peanut crumble for a satisfying crunch.

To conclude, I was happy to find that the dishes were all delectable with several standout dishes that were memorable. For its quality (and quantity!), the price the menu is tagged with is really reasonable and I think it’s a menu that anyone would enjoy – not just families with elderly members.

Yàn’s Wellness Menus will be available from now till 31 August. The six-course Wellness Menu is priced at S$158++ and eight-course menu at S$108++. Yàn is located at 1 St. Andrew’s Road, #05-02, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore 178957. Make your reservation here.