I tend to visit Yet Con Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant if I am in the Bugis vicinity. It is always a tassle between Yet Con and its equally-popular neighbour directly opposite them, Chin Chin Eating House. Both specialise in Hainanese chicken rice and pork chops. On a hot day, Yet Con is always my choice because they are air-conditioned.
Air-conditioning apart, stepping into Yet Con, one feels you are back in the 1940s. Its spartan, ancient looking decor from its tables and chairs to chinese white mosaic tiles on the walls, brings back childhood memories of my great grandmother's kopitiam Tze Char restaurant in Hougang.
At one corner manning the counter is an old man, presumably the boss. His little antique cupboard is rather interesting looking and I always notice his age-old abacus on the counter top. And he scribbles indecipherable items you order on a small piece of white paper and which you pay on your way out. It is ironical and amazing they never seem to have any screw-ups with the bills compared to the rest of the other modern restaurants which print out computerised receipts!
On this visit, I was there with my parents on a weekend for lunch. As expected there was a crowd but we found a table easily as there were only 3 of us. Our table is number 8.
Hainanese White Chicken 白斩鸡. One very obvious thing about Yet Con chicken compared to other chicken rice joints, is their chicken is served dry. They do away with all the sesame sauce, soya sauce and whatever sauces that we are so familiar with. Instead, Yet Con chicken is served dry and the meat is robust almost fat-free, with the skin (very little skin) a tinge of yellow. To me, chicken rice is not chicken rice without dipping into a mix of chilli, ginger and dark soya sauce. The chilli sauce in Yet Con is not spicy, and a little to the sweet side.
Hainanese Pork Chops. I like to order pork chops whenever I visit a Hainanese restaurant, plus my father likes pork chop or sweet and sour pork ribs. Yet Con's pork chops are tender and juicy even though its exterior has been deep fried to a dark brown hue. The sweet and sour gravy is just right with the right mix of potatoes, tomatoes, peas and onions. Even though their potato strips are soft and limpy, I wish they were more generous with more potatoes in my Pork Chops.
Pork Liver Stir Fried With Spring Onions. I really like the taste of this dish with a 'wok hei', because I usually like pork liver. The unusually dark gravy was so delicious I can eat it with rice alone. However my mom did not like it. She says her own version of stir fry pork liver is better as she includes additions of ginger strips, sesame oil and wine, which makes the dish even more fragrant. This I have to agree with her.
Someone introduced me to try the Stir Fried Kailan. I need my veggies in a meal with so much meat. It was so crunchy and wet and well done, simply stir fry with chopped garlic. You can choose to have Kailan with fish slices or mixed with seafood too.
Fish Maw Soup. I think it is also one of their signature dish. They are quite generous with their fish maw, prawns, squids, tofu, veggies and pork slices. Very homely feel kind of soup, very light and refreshing. I feel the taste was a little bland but my parents like it, as they do not like salty soup.
See the chunks of fish maw in the soup. I remember I had their steamboat the last time, with the normal chicken soup base and the usual ingredients of seafood, veggies and meat to cook and DIY. It is one of the standard item patrons usually order in Yet Con but I find it pretty normal, not outstanding.
I love their Chicken Rice. I can eat it alone on its own. It is so fragrant and fluffy, infused with the taste of chicken stock, ginger and pandan flavours.
The exterior of the restaurant is classic and rustic looking. I hope they do not disappear into history. I hope they remain for a long time to come so that the younger generations can savour and experience what they have to offer, as well as to witness a piece of the history of Singapore.
Yet Con Chicken Rice & Restaurant
25 Purvis Street, Singapore.
Opening hours: 11am to 9.30pm
Opening hours: 11am to 9.30pm