Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice at Yet Con Restaurant
Yet Con Restaurant at Purvis Street
Tucked away amongst rows of colonial-era shophouses along Purvis Street is Yet Con, one of the oldest names in Singapore’s chicken rice business. We were recently informed that this is one of the few places on this little island that still serve chicken rice prepared in the traditional Hainanese way, and so that Saturday afternoon the crew visited to sample their renowned Hainanese chicken rice and some of the other highly recommended dishes on their menu.
The vintage exterior of the restaurant (above), and pillar engravings for Yet Con Chicken Rice (below)
Yet Con’s store front looked like it hasn’t changed in decades, and we were impressed at first sight. The Chinese pillar engravings in front of the shop are typical of World War II era shophouse design. The store’s sign, framed and hung above the main entrance, is badly weathered and seemed like it has been there forever. One modern detail is that the store’s entrance is covered in metal and glass, but even these must have been installed back in the 80s. Even just by admiring the store front, we can’t help but feel that this IS the real deal, the original Singapore chicken rice.
Equally old-styled restaurant interior (above, below)
Inside, we found a packed dining hall furnished with vintage tables and chairs. Despite the vintage look this place is air conditioned, and after a long walk in the hot afternoon sun, we are thankful for the cool air. According to a friend, Yet Con is the first chicken rice restaurant in Singapore to have air conditioning installed.
Yet Con’s menu cover
One of the ladies manning the restaurant showed us our seats and handed us a menu. The menu cover stated that this establishment has opened its doors for business since 1940, or slightly over 70 years ago. Strangely enough, although this restaurant is best known for its chicken rice, the menu cover has a picture of a hot pot instead of chicken or chicken rice.
Excellent rice for the chicken rice (above), and chicken rice and roast pork (below)
We ordered several dishes, starting from Yet Con’s famed Hainanese chicken rice, roast pork with sweet black sauce (listed on their menu as highly recommended), pork chop, and mixed vegetables. The dishes didn’t take long to prepare, and were served after a brief ten minutes or so. Taste wise, we must say that Yet Con’s fares do taste a little different from the usual. Bear in mind that the place is renowned for using traditional recipes, but they need not necessarily be better than the modern versions. Unlike in other restaurants, the chicken used in their chicken rice dish is leaner, and both the skin and meat feels less oily. The rice, also an important aspect of any chicken rice dish, is rich in flavour and tasted pretty good by itself. The presentation and flavours of the mixed vegetables and pork chop reminded us of home cooked food. The last dish that we ordered, roast pork with sweet black sauce, unfortunately tasted a little strange. Served at room temperature, the meat and fat layers was a little too hard, and we find the sweet black sauce a little bland.
Some of the dishes we sampled, pork chop (above), and mixed vegetables (below)
Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Yet Con. By preserving the traditional recipes that they use and the store’s physical look, younger generations are able to appreciate the tastes and sights of the past. If you are keen to learn more about the history of food in Singapore, if you are looking for a taste of old Singapore, or if you consider yourself to be a true Singapore chicken rice fan, head down to Purvis Street and enjoy a plate of authentic Hainanese chicken rice at Yet Con today.
Yet Con Restaurant
25 Purvis Street
Opening hours: 11am to 9.30pm