Ignore the decidedly non-serious name. This stylishly appointed restaurant in the heart of New Friends Colony Market has a first to it: the cuisine is Singaporean Chinese, one of the few types of Chinese food that is consonant with our palate, yet one that frequently gets overlooked in favour of classical Cantonese. One of the hallmarks of Singaporean food is that frontiers must be constantly pushed. Never heard of spare ribs with coffee sauce or prawns rolled in oatmeal? Visit a Singaporean restaurant and you’ll be able to taste them.
This airy restaurant with sophisticated but not fussy interiors has an excellently planned menu, and if you don’t find something you like here, you probably hate Chinese food anyway! For starters, I tried Crunchy Prawns with Oat Flakes (Rs 450) which was a slight departure from the Singaporean version because of the addition of fried mint and coriander leaves and tiny diced spring onions and peppers that added to the taste. Wok Seared Fish with Fresh Red Chillies and Hoisin (Rs 300) turned out to be a slightly sweet yet spicy dish with an infinitesimal amount of sauce to contrast with the completely dry prawns.
For the main course, Tenderloin Pepper Steak with Black Fungus and Vinegar was a regular, western-style steak topped with good quality Chinese vinegar and juliennes of black fungus, though to be chopstick-friendly, the steak was cut into bite sized pieces: typically Singaporean. Yum Yum Tree cannot be thought of as a fusion restaurant because for the most part the dishes are traditional Singaporean Chinese – it is only a small percentage that juxtaposes surprising ingredients together.
The problem with not having an expatriate Chinese chef in the kitchen for such a menu is that most of the food is liable to be Indianized, however it was only one dish that was so poorly executed that I had to send it back: Fiery Hunan Chicken (Rs 350) was as chalu as anything you’d get at a roadside van. In spite of being Indian, the chef is on sure ground for authentic dishes. Where he falters is for the couple of entry-level offerings that every restaurant is constrained to keep in the interests of satisfying all palates. Most Indian chefs would have turned out an interesting version of Hunan Chicken but floundered on Winter Chicken with Snow Peas and Corn (Rs 400), an intensely flavourful dish of sliced chicken breasts with oyster sauce. Yet in this classy restaurant that is sure to be a hit, this dish is a subtle masterpiece.
First floor, Community Centre, New Friends Colony
Open from 12 noon to 11.30 pm
Alcohol licence expected shortly; credit cards accepted
Average cost of a meal for two: Rs 1,500