|The private rooftop bar at Sum Yi Tai|
It was a Friday and one of my best friends, Shaun, invited me to check out a new restaurant bar along Boon Tat Street. His main intention was to catch up over drinks however he said we could kill two birds with one stone here. Sum Yi Tai is located in the row of shophouses a few doors down from No Menu Italian restaurant. Upon entering Sum Yi Tai, I was transported back to 1980s Hong Kong. The bar has a distinct gangland vibe reminiscent of old Hong Kong gangster movies. The first thing I noticed is a black Chinese dragon hanging from the ceiling and along the wall at the entrance of the Chinese Tapas Bar is a mosaic artwork made up of hundreds of nicely lit mahjong tiles. The main dining room on the second floor is only open mid-May. We were brought up to the private rooftop bar and dining using a lift. The rooftop bar presents a different atmosphere. With rattan furniture, beautiful lamps and lovely Chinese-style screen dividers adorning the surrounding area, and an exceptional view of the urban landscape, it is an exclusive yet cosy setting that is perfect for an intimate evening with close friends. Please note that access to the private rooftop bar is by invitation or reservation only.
|salmon skin with salted egg yolk|
|Chinese mojito served in a tim sum basket|
Sum Yi Tai boasts a menu of classic Chinese dishes served as Chinese Tapas. As is the case with all tapas, the food at Sum Yi Tai is easy to eat and great for sharing. We started with the salmon skin with salted egg yolk. I love salted egg yolk but can never get enough of it when served with crab however in this case with every crispy piece of skin, you get a good mouthful of yolk. This was balanced off with some lime zest so the dish never felt too rich. I don’t normally write much about drinks however I felt it was necessary since the cocktails here are worth mentioning. I started with the Chinese mojito which was served in a tim sum basket. It was made using chrysanthemum rum and refreshingly good.
|Quail seasoned with five spices, |
chopped garlic and served with a salt,
pepper and chilli powder
The maple honey glaze char siew was served in even thick slices. The slices of pork neck were well marinated with a good sweetness and because it was sliced thick, you needed to chew a little but to me it was a good kind of bite. Next we had the signature roast duck. Unfortunately even though the duck was tender and moist, it was soaked with a sweet brown sauce that made it a little too sweet and the skin lost its crispiness. The other bird namely the quail fared better. It was seasoned with five spices, chopped garlic and served with a salt, pepper and chilli powder that gave it an extra oomph. The meat of the quail was thankfully not dry like in a lot of other restaurants and more flavourful than chicken. By this time I had moved on to the Dai Lou cocktail which is their take on old fashioned. It was sweeter than other places with elderflower liqueur being added however still strong enough to accompany the bold flavours of the duck and quail.
|Suckling pig served with |
Dijon mustard and sweet sauce
Good thing it was a Friday and good thing Shaun who has been here before knew to pre-order the suckling pig. The thin slices of pork came with a thinner slice of skin that was sufficiently crispy and it was served with Dijon mustard and a sweet sauce that was chutney like in consistency.
|Carrot cake cooked with XO sauce,|
beansprouts and dried shrimp
After having 3 courses of meat, even the butcher was happy to move on and what better way than to his favourite hawker dish, carrot cake! Many friends have asked me why of all dishes carrot cake but somehow I just enjoy the combination of radish, preserved turnip, egg and sambal chilli. The version here is different than what you normally find at hawker stalls, it is bigger pieces of radish and cooked with XO sauce, beansprout and a healthy dose of dried shrimp. The result is an explosion of bold flavours that sends your taste buds into overdrive. This dish is right up my alley.
We ended the meat with a less flavourful but equally satisfying bowl of wanton noodles in chicken consommé. The wantons were served separately with some chilli oil. Usually you would devour a whole wanton in one mouthful however these king prawn wantons were big and deserved at least two bites so that you can appreciate the gourmet filling. I finished off my meal with a date the gangster. A whisky cocktail that was sweet like the night had been.
Sum Yi Tai is an innovative idea that marries traditional Chinese food with great ambience and good drinks. With more and more Singaporeans dining and drinking at the same time, they may have just hit the nail on the head with this concept.
Sum Yi Tai
Address: 25 Boon Tat Street Singapore 069622
~ Andre Huber