After the great meal at Spring Court, my mum was craving for dim sum at an old traditional Chinese restaurant and we decided to visit Yan Palace which is really the popular restaurant for both weddings and celebrations in those days. The restaurant has been in business for at least more than 40 years and I remember celebrating my grandmother’s birthday there when I was just a kid.
Located under a block of old flats, Yan Palace has been in the Hong Lim location for many years and it is quite the popular venue for many families bringing their elderly to enjoy an authentic Cantonese meal. Do not expect the top class service here but instead immerse in the traditional curt Cantonese service standards which is non offending and somewhat familiar to a Cantonese.
The restaurant décor bear high resemblance to a bustling Hong Kong restaurant with their typical bright coloured carpeting and table cloths. Occupying a large space, the restaurant can seat close to 50 to 70 tables and there are also around VIP rooms with karaoke functions for private gathering.
We visited on a Sat afternoon mainly for their dim sum and their dim sum menu had a huge variety. For those who prefers proper dishes, they also serve them at lunch time. A must at all dim sum sessions will be the pork porridge and the ones served at Yan Palace was pretty generous in serving and surprising very delicious. The consistency of the porridge was thick and sooth with bits of century egg and sliced pork. The highlight was the fried dough which was extremely crispy and the porridge reminded me of the ones served at Crystal Jade but at half the price.
Another must order number is the char siew buns and traditional Cantonese dim sum versions have their tops open up like flowers. I do have pretty high standards for char siew buns and sadly, this version did not make it to pass my standards. The flour of the bun was actually quite ok but the char siew flavour was missing that sweet charred char siew flavour. It tasted alot like just marinated meat buns
This was unexpectedly nice as a fried wrapped banana roll. The outer skin was very crispy and the warm and soft banana had a nice sweet and caramelised taste.
The chee cheong fun was neither bad or extremely good and I found the serving of prawns quite pathetic. The rice roll itself is pretty smooth and silky and the soy sauce was a great complement to the rice roll as it was not too salty.
One of the highlight was the paper wrapped chicken which you can find at every table. The dish was served to our table piping hot and we had to cool it before proceeding to unwrap the chicken to dig in.
The chicken was extremely flavourful and the meat was very succulent and juicy. The marinate of pepper and oyster sauce was nicely absorbed into the meat and the dry frying of the paper gave the chicken a nice oven baked charred flavour but retaining the natural juice in the chicken. The only thing was the taste was slightly on the salty side.
This fried prawn ball fried and coated with sliced almonds had a nice bouncy bite and the almonds added a fantastic crunchy texture which makes this ball a nice dish to snack on with hot tea.
One item I need to specially mention is the mango pudding. I initially had reservations about the taste of the pudding as I had many puddings which had that fake flour chemical taste as a result of mass cheap factory production. Surprisingly when I tried the first bite, it had that natural fruit sweetness and strong and milky flavours of evaporated cream milk. This is the exact old school mango pudding flavours which I missed dearly.
Overall, we ordered a lot of more items which I would not mention item per item as I felt that the taste was just mediocre. The dishes are general ok tasting but nothing too special and the textures are generally more rough compared to top notch Hong Kong dim sum which is more refined. While the taste is general, Yan palace has a certain nostalgia that reminds me of family gatherings on yum cha days.
Address: Blk 531 Upper Cross Street #01-49 Hong Lim Complex, 050531
Operating hours: 11 am to 2.15 pm and 6.30 pm to 10 pm ( Sun opens 10 am)