YUN NANS introduces Singaporeans to the culinary magic of Yun Hai Yao 云海肴 , the world’s largest Yunnan restaurant chain.

First opened at Jewel Changi Airport and subsequently at Westgate, NEX and now at ION Orchard, what I liked about YUN NANS are its range of quality Chinese dishes good for family meals, yet there is always something new to look forward to.

And, not the usual Chinese dishes.

If you have yet to try this restaurant, it promises authentic gao yuan liao li (highland cuisine), famous for its full-bodied provincial flavours.

Talk about its Steamed Pot Chicken Soup and Braised Wild Porcini Mushrooms, and you get that warm, fuzzy feeling in the belly.

As for YUN NANS’ new outpost in the heart of town at ION Orchard, this has a garden-within-a-restaurant concept, inviting diners to a serene ambience with a relaxing effect.

There’s more to the interiors than just ‘pretty’: it pays homage to the Kunming Stone Forest, a part of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, with its dominant green theme.

Diners can expect vibrant backdrops, potted plants, and the use of natural materials in the restaurant’s furnishings. Similarly, the food has a modern-rustic appeal, wherein chefs use traditional ingredients and cooking styles to create dishes with a contemporary attitude.

Here are 10 of YUN NANS’ new menu highlights:

Steam Pot Chicken Soup with Lily Bulb ($32.90)
The Steam Pot Chicken Soup is one of YUN NANS’ signature dishes cooked using a particular breed of black feet chicken and fresh lily bulbs from Yunnan.

Besides using specially imported ingredients, the novelty of the dish lies in its cookery, which does not include using even a single drop of water.

Instead, the chefs pressure-steam the chicken for over three hours, collecting the transparent and healthful soup that lacks any greasiness. Further giving the soup some earthiness is its preparation in a hand-made Jianshui clay pot.

This version with lily bulb is a new inclusion. Adding a hint of sustenance to the dish are Lanzhou lily bulbs that also provide it with some textural volume and a tempting aroma.

Pomelo Salad with Osmanthus Dressing ($10.90)
YUN NANS may be a casual restaurant, but its delicate presentations can give any fine dining establishment a run for its money.

The colourful and fruity Pomelo Salad is a beautiful and revitalising dish, both in its look and taste.

The salad primarily consists of lily bulb petals mixed with shredded pomelo. Furthermore, blanching the petals in ice water first helps keep their natural sweetness and crunchiness intact.

Adding some complexity to the salad is the house-made osmanthus honey sauce with its bitter-sweet flavour (the taste may remind you a little of yusheng).

Hotplate Milky Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce ($16.80)
If you love your soft tofu and hotplates, then you must add this to your order.

It may seem like your average crispy tofu dish at first, but the preparation of Yunnan’s milky tofu is such that only the outer layer receives a crisp brown consistency.

This Milky Tofu recipe has its origin dating back 400 years to the Qing Dynasty.

The inside is in complete contrast and maintains a spongy softness. This is apparently because the tofu is made using Shiping’s spring water. At YUNNANS, it is served with a generous amount of specially prepared spicy garlic seafood sauce in a sizzling hotplate.

Lychee Prawn Ball ($20.80)
The Lychee Prawn Balls are quite a pleasant surprise, both in the looks and taste departments.

Resembling the juicy fruit in appearance, the dish, in reality, comprises prawns, hand-beaten till tender, shaped into small balls, and then fried with crispy bits till the exterior has a golden-brown crunch.

Pop one in your mouth after it has cooled down a little, and you would find the inside to be soft and a little chewy, with a hint of sweetness from the prawns.

The tricky part, before you take a bite, is convincing your brain that this is not lychee but a savoury treat.

Braised Fish Maw with Wild Porcini Mushroom ($42.80 for small, $52.80 for big)
The dish pairs rather well with rice and promises comforting meets savoury flavours with a slightly spicy aftertaste.

A lot of it is due to the ingredients.

This Braised Fish Maw with Wild Porcini Mushrooms, has an abundance of naturalness that comes from using region-specific produce such as Yunnan Qiubei Chillies, Chinese yam, Yunnan solo clove garlic, and porcini mushrooms from the highlands. (The yam had this surprising texture that was so close to potatoes.)

And if you have never eaten fresh fish maw (this could very well be my first as well), you get that and mushrooms slowly braised till soft, to give the fish maw an appetising, easy-to-chew texture.

Steamed Cod with “Mei Cai” ($31.90)
Made by the Hakka people from Dabu County, only a few limited merchants have access to this mei cai (preserved Chinese mustard and cabbage), adding to its individuality.

Undergoing a fermentation process that lasts over a year, this specially sourced mei cai has a deep, unique flavour that is neither too salty, as one would expect, nor sweet.

The mei cai paste is slathered over the cod’s mid-section and steamed, allowing the fish to cook in its natural oils till it has a soft, moist texture.

Sauteed Cabbage with Dried Chillies ($13.80)
The chefs here have the skills to transform the most average ingredients into something special.

The Sauteed Cabbage with Dried Chillies is a classic example where we see a simple combination produces a tasty dish that goes well as a side with heavier mains.

For me, though, the flavours imparted by the wok hei cooking method made the dish rise above its simplicity.

Grilled Skewers (from $2.80 per skewer, min 2 pcs)
Experience Yunnan-style barbecue with items including Grilled Pig Trotters with Spices, Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings, and Charcoal Grilled Chicken Skin or Gizzard.

The well-seasoned meats are grilled over charcoal up to the right degree of doneness and that smoky finish. Served with a generous dash of their in-house chilli seasoning mix that adds some tanginess to the mix.

Claypot Rice with Minced Beef and Crispy Rice ($24.90)
The Claypot Rice with Minced Beef and Crispy Rice is an example of taking regional cuisine and uplifting it to modern-day culinary expectations.

The rice preparation includes mixing it with pieces of Yunnan’s premium ham and a special house-made sauce. It then uses the Japanese donabe technique of placing the clay pot directly on the flame for cooking.

The ‘fun’ part about the dish is that all the extra ingredients come as sides. So, you can mix them as per your preference.

While you can enjoy the rice in its original form, it is possible to top it with stir-fried minced beef, salted vegetables, and crispy red beans. If that isn’t enough, there’s also crisp-fried pork lard and spring onions.

My recommendation, add a little bit of everything together for a tasteful aromatic dish with a classic homely appeal. For non-beef eaters, a pork version is also available.

YUN NANS – Orchard
ION Orchard #B3-17, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 6513 0828
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat, Sun, PH)

Jewel Changi Airport #02-217, Singapore 819666
Tel: +65 6908 3677
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat, Sun, PH)

Westgate #03-07, 3 Gateway Drive Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6970 9891
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat, Sun, PH)

NEX #B1-15, 23 Serangoon Central Singapore 556083
Tel: +65 6970 7883
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)

* This entry is brought to you in partnership with YUN NANS.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here