Jia Yi Wan – Authentic Penang Flavors in the CBD!
Not all gems are hidden in a tucked away quaint neighbourhood, some can be found in the bustling CBD.
Jia Yi Wan is a restaurant serving Penang specialities in Tanjong Pagar. I have always been a fan of Penang food. The Penang renditions of classic dishes such as char kway teow and prawn mee are better than the conventional versions in my opinion.
The interior of the establishment was reminiscent of the streets of Penang. Hand-drawn street art decorated each of the walls, while wooden tables and chairs filled the place. Captivated by the decor, we expected the food to enthral us as well. We ordered a great variety of dishes in order to fully grasp the quality of the food here. We have heard a few reviews of how authentic the food here is but there is no better way to find out but to have a taste ourselves.
First up was the Penang Prawn Noodles ($6.80). The first thing that hits you is the strong prawn flavour present in the broth, followed by a mild spiciness. The combination of the two made the broth satisfyingly addictive. I then slurped up the yellow noodles and bee hoon. Mhmm, yum. Thinking back, I have actually only had this kind of prawn noodles in Penang, so I was starting to understand what people were saying when they said that the food here is authentic.
The Penang Curry Noodles ($5.80) looked really inviting. You can smell the distinctive fragrance of the coconut milk, but, surprisingly, the curry was not overly lemak or heavy. On top of the usual fish cake and prawns, the curry noodles also had tau pok and pig skin which were perfect in soaking up more curry.
The Penang Char Kway Teow ($5.80), one of Penang’s signatures, is a dish that reveals the chef’s skills. Is the wok hei sufficient? Did the chef get the doneness of all the ingredients right? The glistening Char Kway Teow looked promising. We could smell the charred fragrance before the dish even arrived at the table. The first mouthful confirmed that the char kway teow tasted as good as it looked. The smooth kway teow was smoky and spicy flavours. Every bite just made us crave another.
I did not expect to love the Claypot Mee Tai Mak ($7.80) as much as I did. I broke the yolk and mixed it into the dish until it achieved a gooey consistency. The chewiness of the noodles, the egginess of the yolk, the savoury notes of dark soya sauce, and good amount of wok hei made the dish perfect. I was pleasantly surprised that even with such intense flavours, the dish did not get jelak, and we enjoyed it immensely.
Yet another quintessential Penang speciality is the Penang Lor Mee ($5.80). The dish was topped with slices of pork. Digging my chopsticks into the viscous sauce, I caught the fragrance of 5-spice powder. The dish had deep herbal notes, with hints of dang gui coming through. This was really comforting and would be especially ideal on a cold rainy day.
The Special Homemade Prawn Balls ($6 for 6 pieces) are not to be missed. The juicy balls are made from minced pork, bits of prawns, and water chestnuts. Homemade meatballs are always a treat when made properly, and these firm and springy delights are no exception.
The dishes here are really savoury, and carry strong flavours so the Homemade Herbal Bitter Tea ($1.80) was the best drink that I could ask for. It was a real palate cleanser! The owners also run a traditional Chinese medicine business, so all herbals drinks at Jia Yi Wan are brewed in-house. The astringent herbal tea refreshed my palate, and I was ready for more food.
In addition to what we ordered, Jia Yi Wan’s extensive menu also features favourites such as Braised Pig’s Trotter ($6), Signature Pork Belly ($4), Signature Korean Toasts ($3.50 -$4.50), and fruit Juices.
We chatted with the young head chef, Ah Yuan, who is only 28 years old. He first learnt how to cook at the age of 13, while he was playing around in his grandmother’s kitchen. He went to Ireland to broaden his horizons before coming to Singapore to helm the Jia Yi Wan kitchen.
You ever get the feeling when you’re listening to someone talk about something they love and it’s just so inspiring and mesmerizing? We listened to Ah Yuan talk about the perfect Penang Char Kway Teow and how it should be perfectly smooth, without being too heavy or dry. His passion for his craft definitely shows in the quality of the food here. We’ll certainly be back to try more dishes!
Jia Yi Wan
Address: 7 Hoe Chiang Rd, Singapore 089313
Phone: 6904 2580
Opening Hours: 9am to 9pm daily.
This post is brought to you by Jia Yi Wan.
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