great chinese food – almost surprisingly so – hidden away in the gallery wing of the hotel rendezvous. this place has been featured in a couple articles here and there, but never seemed to hold onto the limelight – which truly is a pity, as the food here is great; chinese food with a focus on healthy and nourishing ingredients, tasty and very creative to boot.
the restaurant promotes itself on the health-giving aspects of its offerings, and even has a menu catered to pregnant women (or women going through the confinement period), which I think might scare some diners off – an uncomfortable result of the general perception that healthy means bland – but the food truly is well-seasoned and appealing, and hearty enough to appeal to all you adverse to healthy(-labelled) food.
the menu includes descriptions of how each dish is good for you – with its promises of detoxing and rebalancing the energies – but let’s focus on the taste. we started off with their marinated jellyfish – served differently as it included a clear crunchy coral seaweed that provided extra texture, as well as yellow frisée – a good clean start to the meal.
our other starter was truly impressive: a much-recommended plate of minced pork balls wrapped in purple glutinous rice, served with puffed rice on the side. the pork was well-seasoned, and the purple and white puffed rice had textural contrast – this went down quickly.
the other dishes soon followed – silky braised loofah with mushrooms that was pretty light on the palate, a terrifically gorgeous whole fish stuffed with minced meat and stewed in a beer broth, crispy ribs that weren’t particularly crispy but very tender – tendons completely broken down with yielding meat – that went down especially well with the men at the table, and a rather addictive but light dish of lotus root slices stir-fried with lily bulb segments.
we also had baby abalone braised with sea cucumber that came in a very savoury sauce over baby greens – great with rice, as well as an off-the-menu charcoal tofu that was very silky and one of our favourite dishes all around.
we finished with two desserts – double boiled papaya and hasma for dad, and purple yam paste with mango wrapped up in pancakes. both were good, the first of which especially because it’s not easy to find in singapore, even less so a good rendition.
the restaurant is admittedly a little garish – with far too much opulence splashed across its furnishing and blinged up velvet chairs – but service is earnest, and the place filled up with customers (regulars, from the sound of their conversations). I’m still thinking about that fish dish – never seen before and very much lapped up even though I really dislike the taste of beer! – and it’s reasonably priced for what was a great family dinner.
Hao Yun Lai Restaurant
#02-01 Rendezvous Gallery (attached to the Hotel Rendezvous)
9 Bras Basah Rd
tel +65 6333 9846
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