A year after closing down his buffet-style restaurant, 1 Market at Plaza Singapura, Chef Wan has made a bolder comeback with a restaurant that doles out authentic heritage-rich dishes that are dear to his heart. Located on the second level of Esplanade Mall, the newly established Chef Wan’s Kitchen sets itself apart from its predecessor by dishing out a menu that’s fully à la carte. If you’re looking for reasons to miss out on a regular bowl of Mee Rebus, Laksa or Lontong at a hawker centre for a cozier and more atas experience, here are 9 facts you should know about Chef Wan’s latest pride and joy!
1. Expect a menu filled with homemade recipes that were passed down from generation to generation.
Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus with Prawn Fritters ($15.90)
Given its heritage concept, there’s no question why Chef Wan wouldn’t include the dish that his mother, Cik Aini, had painstakingly cooked and sold for 31 years to bring her children up. Patrons would get a glimpse into his childhood with Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus, which is served with crunchy prawn fritters on the side.
2. The Creamy Bibik Neo’s Laksa is Chef Wan’s favourite dish as a child.
Bibik Neo’s Laksa (S$15.90)
Another dish that’s featured on the menu as a tribute to his elders is the Bibik Neo’s Laksa, which happens to be Chef Wan’s favourite dish growing up, and according to him, one that was cooked only on special occasions back in the days. Made with fresh grinded prawns and coconut milk, our team could only find one Malay phrase to describe the creamy and light gravy – “lemak berkrim” (read: creamy, fatty goodness)
3. It’s a great option to have a romantic dinner date or a quality meal with the family.
Located in the heart of the city, which overlooks the Singapore River and the Marina bay Sands landscape, Chef Wan’s chosen a place which is central in location with a nice ambience. You can feel like you are treating yourself here and it’s very suitable to bring foreign friends or clients whom you want to show Malay food to. With a capacity of 100-200, the restaurant’s setting is perfect for a family get-together too.
While the place may not be the most pocket-friendly for an average consumer, you’d be delighted to know that the portion of the dishes for were meant sharing (so have the option of splitting the bill!). But you feel free to indulge on the food all by yourself too if you like!
4. The Oxtail Soup was served to the Sultan of Brunei and it instantly became his favourite.
Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup ($17.90)
It’s no rumour that the Sultan of Brunei had personally touted Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup as his favourite dish and we clearly understand why! Atypical from the regular Sup Buntut you’ll find at the hawker’s here, the spices that were infused in the soup give it a unique taste that’s reminiscent of Mee Kuah or Mee Bandung. If those dishes are up your alley, this oxtail soup might just make it to your favourite’s list!
5. Chef Wan’s Selangor Beef Rendang will serve you some of the most tender beef chunks you’ve ever had.
Chef Wan’s Selangor Beef Rendang ($22.90)
It’s not easy to claim a dish to be better than our mother’s cooking, but that’s exactly what one of our crew, Shamsydar Ani, exclaimed when she had a taste of the tantalising Beef Rendang! Dip your forks into the beef, and you can instantly tell it’s been simmered for hours to achieve a texture that allows it to effortlessly tear apart. That tenderness, paired with flavours that pack a punch – we won’t be judging our team member for thinking this rendang beats all!
6. Be pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the prawn curry with pineapple.
Prawn Curry with Pineapple ($21.90)
We were told that Chef Wan took the time to ensure that every ingredient, down to its garnish, are fresh and well-presented. Cooked with prawns from the morning’s catch and chunks of zesty pineapples, be prepared to taste a lemak dish that’s unlike any other. The savoury and sour Prawn Curry with Pineapple (which was also passed down from Chef Wan’s grandmother), along with the Lawar Salad, represent Peranakan flavours originating from Malacca. The curry’s said to be a crowd’s favourite!
Lawar Salad ($17.90)
7. Take our word, don’t share the Chicken dishes with your friends. You’ll want more of it.
Ayam Percik ($18.90)
We told you earlier the dishes were made for sharing. But we have to admit, the chicken dishes (plus the added fact of our extreme undying love for chicken) were hard not to have it for ourselves! The Ayam Percik and Ayam Goreng Java are so tender that the meat rips right off the bone. Consider our warning if you do plan on having these finger-lickin’ goodness!
Ayam Goreng Java Chef Wan ($18.90)
8. Chef Wan translates his travels onto the plate with flavours from Asia and Europe.
Moroccan Harira Lam Meatball Soup ($17.90)
Being a huge name in the culinary industry, Chef Wan has travelled across the globe enough to include internationally influenced delicacies in his menu. Learning to put together traditional dishes straight from the Moroccan kitchen, Chef Wan’s ready to present his artistry from abroad onto our plates with the Moroccan Harira Lam Meatball Soup and Chicken Tajine, which is served in well, a Tajine, which is a traditional earthenware pot used to whip up the dish! Moroccan Chicken Tajine ($19.90).
9. Your tradtional malay kuihs are transformed into world-class deserts.
Chilled Coconut Custard $5.90
“Behind every successful restaurant, is a humble and hardworking chef,” we say. That was the impression we got when Head Chef Ungku Jaffar sat down with us to eagerly share his experience and secrets of creating original desserts that don’t stray far from tastes that we locals love. The man with years of professional experience under his belt told us his Chilled Coconut Custard was a hit in Japan, at one of the hotels he used to work at. Along with the Steamed Jackfruit Custard, the two desserts are light and have just about the right level of sweetness to end a hearty meal with!
Steamed Jackfruit Custard $5.90
At just $5.90, we have to say that these desserts definitely take the cake for us!
The Churros Cheese Tart is also one of Chef Jaffar’s creations, combining two things that are enjoyed universally – churros and cheese! Give the crust a tap and you’re welcomed with a generous flow of cream cheese. If that doesn’t make you drool, we don’t know what will!
Churros Cheese Tart $5.90
Chef Wan’s Kitchen is located at 8 Raffles Avenue, #02-14 Esplanade Mall, Singapore 039802.
Prayer space is available at Esplanade’s nursing room at the Mezzanine Level, located near the Information Counter.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Chef Wan’s Kitchen is pending a halal-certification from MUIS. Refer to halalfoodhunt.com for when we can verify their halal certification in the coming days, and for their FRIENDS with Halalfoodhunt.com deal coming up!
In her spare time, Maisurah engages herself in volunteer work and is a proud co-founder of Gift-A-Kurung, which aims to promote the spirit of giving within our community. She also maintains her own blog at http://www.maisurahmokhsin.com/