Hao Yun Lai
Restaurant setting: Rendezvous Gallery is becoming quite the new dining spot with various restaurants and cafes opening here in recent months. Chinese herbal restaurant Hao Yun Lai is the latest to join the cluster and promises to stand out by offering something quite unique — a pre- and post-natal menu, on top of its regular menu.
The interior of the restaurant though is nothing special, being a pleasant but standard Chinese restaurant. What will catch your eye though is the beautifully presented food by head chef Chai, who takes pains to ensure every grain, leaf or drizzle of sauce is in place and who uses unusual ingredients, like charcoal tofu and lily bulbs, that in themselves are visually interesting.
What to eat: While the pregnancy and post-partum dishes are the specialty here, the dishes on the regular menu are well thought through too.
Traditional Chinese Medicine principles are applied to dishes on both menus, and we’re told that every dish was put together in consultation with a Tradition Chinese Medicine physician. Chef Chai himself keeps a medicine cabinet full of herbs in carefully labelled drawers and jars. The medicinal properties and health benefits of each dish are also explained in detail in the menus, which are rather hefty as a result.
We’d highly recommend their soups—boiled to infinity, they are thick with nutrients and goodness, and you feel healthy just drinking them.
Try the double-boiled pigeon soup ($22.80) which is thought to be many times more fortifying than chicken soup, and whose health benefits span everything from regenerating Qi to promoting longevity. Also try the duck soup ($16.80) which is strong, potent—and delicious.
For mains, the pan-fried cod with celery sauce ($12.80) is light and tasty, while the claypot chicken ($14.80) is interesting in that it uses chickens raised not on grain but on sakura blossoms. We’d definitely order the charcoal beancurd with bamboo fungus and pine mushrooms ($14.80), which is tofu made with, as its name implies, charcoal. Overlook the greyness of the tofu, and you have a lovely, smooth curd that is very nutritious too.
If you want rice, the spinach fried rice with goose ($14.80) is fluffy, not at all greasy and is made with two types of grain—rice and amaranth—that make for an interesting mix of textures.
To accompany your meal, choose one of their health juices that contain such a high concentration of nutrients they are like vitamin supplements, only better tasting. The grape with honey and ginger juice ($4.90) is very nice and easy to drink, while the purple cabbage juice ($4.90) tastes nicer than it sounds.
Hao Yun Lai /Address: #02-01 Rendezvous Gallery, 9 Bras Basah Road / Tel: 63339846 / Opening hours: Daily 11am–3pm, 6–11pm
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