I am sure many of you are familar with Chef Tan Yong Hua. He has helmed the kitchens of several renowned Chinese restaurants in prominent hotels for over 20 years such as the Raffles Hotel, Raffles the Plaza, Marina Mandarin as well as the Tung Lok Group of Restaurants in Singapore. I met him in 2007 while I was still doing internship for a food magazine. He was still with Peach Blossoms at Marina Mandarin and we featured him as 南瓜王子 (pumpkin king) with many healthy pumpkin dishes.
Fast forward to 6 years later, Chef Tan Yong Hua is now writing the next chapter of his culinary career, preparing deeply personal cuisine that conveys his life experiences to his customers at Restaurant HOME.
One highlight in the menu is Chef Tan’s signature Peking Duck Barbecued with Lychee Wood (炭烧荔枝木北京烤鸭, $38 for half a duck, $68 for a whole duck). Having learnt insider roasting techniques for the dish from local chefs while on a consultancy stint in China, Chef Tan subsequently spent months refining them, adapting the dish for the Singaporean palate.
A taste of his Peking Duck, I found that Chef Tan’s version has less fat under the skin than traditional Peking Duck, but boosts equally good flavours.
Chef Tan has specially designed a customized wood-fired oven with superior heat retention, so that his Peking ducks emerge with skin that is crispy and glossy, not chewy. He also used imported lychee wood, for the more delicate aroma and flavours it imparts. The roast duck looks temptingly golden brown and the fragrance is irresistible.
At Restaurant HOME, a Peking duck feast begins with slices of skin dipped in sugar and continues with sliced meat with pancakes, leek, cucumber and a sweet sauce. For an additional $10, you can choose how you would like the rest of the duck to be prepared: duck bones simmered in soup, thigh and breast meat stir-fried with onion and ginger, or deep-fried and then stir-fried with salt and pepper.
Another signature dish reprised at Restaurant HOME is Baked Marble Goby in Claypot with Chef Tan In-house Recipe(炭烧焗鼎锅笋壳, $9 per 100g), nicknamed “Swa Teng Fish”.
Chef Tan grew up in kampong (swa teng) where electricity could only be produced by a generator, which made it very expensive. His grandmother liked to use claypot to cook, as it kept the food warm for a long time. So he used her cooking method, with premium quality fish, and a unique mix of local spices and ingredients such as blue ginger, lemongrass and spring onions to create this dish.
Homemade Egg Bean Curd with Shrimp Paste Crabmeat and Roe in Pi Pa Style (珊瑚琵琶豆腐, $18 regular) is outstanding too because he and his team make fresh bean curd daily from high quality soybeans, with a traditional and labourious method that guarantees more concentrated flavor and an exceptionally smooth texture. Outcome? Every piece of tofu is smooth and soft!
Braised Diced Chicken with Braised Fungus, Dried Lily Buds and Flower Mushrooms served in Hot Stone (古窝云耳金针焖鸡, $20 regular) is a Cantonese dish that was popular in the 1970s but is less so these days, so Chef Tan revived the dish in his restaurant.
This simple one pot recipe is one that his grandmother often cooked. Though it looked simple to prepared, but it actually requires precise seasoning and cooking technique to balance the ingredients’ flavours correctly.
Another dish which is memorable to me is the Braised Duo Rice Vermicelli with Pork Knuckles served in Oba Leaf (乌巴叶红烧猪蹄焖鸳鸯米, $20 regular) which is a twist from the local “ter kah bee hoon”. The pork knuckles are braised with a selection of Chinese herbs for five hours over low heat, and the bee hoon is mixed with tung hoon for its complementary smoother texture.
Crispy Pan-Fried Pancake Filled with Lotus Paste (莲容锅饼, $8 per order) is something light to share, with overloading of sesame seeds on the surface. It is nice, crisp light and not too sweet. Very likeable.
With freshness and natural flavours being the hallmarks of Cantonese cuisine, Chef Tan showcases his mastery and versatility in Restaurant HOME’s menu by using the freshest ingredients and marrying traditional recipes with his signature flair. They also have sumptuous lunch selections – choose 7 out of over 20 dishes, at just $28.80 per person (*min 3 persons). The menu includes barbecued duck with lychee wood!
One happy news for Chef Tan, he has been selected to represent Singapore, on behalf of the Society of Chinese Cuisine Chefs, for the Iron Chef Bangkok. And he has beat the Iron Chef Bangkok for Chinese cuisine! Congratulations Chef Tan!
Address: 392Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall
Tel: 6465 1698
Operating hours: Open Daily 12pm – 3 pm (last order, 2.15 pm), 6pm– 11pm (last order, 10.15pm)