A Taste Of Home: Restaurateur Yenn Wong’s Top Spots For The Local Singaporean Fare She Loves
Restaurateur Yenn Wong might run one of Hong Kong’s most successful hospitality groups, with restaurants whose menus span the globe, from Issan and Indonesian food to Spanish and South American cuisine, but it is the fare of her homeland that is her true love. “Singaporean food is like no other cuisine,” says Wong. “What I love most about it is the authenticity and the bold flavours.”
It’s understandable, then, that Wong has been sorely missing the cuisine over the 18 months since her last trip home, particularly as she feels that Singaporean cuisine outside of the city state rarely delivers quite the same flavours and experience. Here, she shares some of her favourite spots in Singapore, and given her experience in the restaurant business at the helm of Jia Group, whose Hong Kong restaurants include star establishments such as Duddell’s, Louise, Mono, and Ando, these are destinations guaranteed to be worth a try.
What do you miss most on the food and drink front when you are away from Singapore or haven’t been back for a while?
I miss Singaporean local fare. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to find Singaporean food that tastes as good outside of Singapore. My all-time favourite dish is bak chor mee. This much-loved noodle dish is found in hawker centres all around Singapore and is a bowl of noodles served with meat, homemade sauce, soup and a whole lot of toppings––it’s delicious.
What is the first dish you eat when you return and where do you go for it?
The first place I visit when I get to Singapore is Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles at Crawford Lane. My order is always the SG$10 version with extra chilli and vinegar.
Do you have a favourite restaurant in Singapore––for fine dining or special occasions and for more casual experiences?
For special occasions, I usually choose to go to Odette by Julien Royer or Zén. For a more casual experience, I like to go to Hong Lim Market for char kway teow, Tiong Bahru Market for chwee kueh and Mr and Mrs Moghan for their famous prata.
If you have visitors or guests with you, where do you ensure you always go to give them a real taste of Singapore?
There are so many fantastic places to take visitors from out of town; however, it does depend on how adventurous they are. If they are foodies, we will go to different food markets for many different foods, which includes a lot of queuing and sweating, but satisfaction is guaranteed!
What are your favourite Singaporean heritage dishes and where are some of the places you go to find them?
My favourite Singaporean heritage dishes include: chicken rice from Kampong Chicken Eating House; curry noodles from Heng Kee Curry Noodle at Hong Lim; laksa from Sungei Road Laksa; kueh tutu from Tan’s Tutu at Havelock Road; and fried carrot cake from 21 Old Airport Road.
Where do you like to meet up with old friends for food and/or drinks?
We love to go to Dempsey Durian after dinner to hang out and catch up.
Do you have a favourite café in Singapore?
One of my favourite cafes is Creamier Ice Cream. We usually go in the afternoon as it’s near our place. The ice cream and waffles are great.
What do you always take back home with you when you leave Singapore?
I always bring popiah skin and bakkwa back from Singapore.
Where do you go to find authentic flavours of home in Hong Kong?
The most authentic Singaporean flavours and dishes can be found at Bibi & Baba and Cafe Malacca.