Yet Con Hainanese Chicken Rice
by Jackson Sim
@ 30 Jun 2017
As you venture down Purvis Street, the first thing that catches your attention is the first stretch of the street which is home to Hainanese eateries that dot both sides of the street.
One of the many is old school favourite, Yet Con. From the exterior, Yet con still looks like it belongs to the war era - the dilapidated signage of its name in Chinese characters hangs gloriously just above its entrance. To the right, one will find a rusty metal sheet depicting an alcohol license from yesteryears. Marble top tables are accompanied by old school wooden chairs as furniture, bottles of home made chilli sauce, blended garlic and ginger and soy sauce act as ornaments.
Having been around since the 1940s, Yet Con is famous not only for its comforting selections of Hainanese dishes but also its chicken rice.
Unlike most chicken rice, Yet Con does not soak their chickens in cold water. Instead, it ensures that the chickens are cooked through and through some people find it too dry, this essentially enhances the flavours. Ask for thigh meats and you will enjoy its juciness tremendously. For those who prefer a healthier alternative, the breast meats are just as good. Accompanied by fluffy rice which is lovingly cooked in a bath of ginger juice and reduced chicken fats, the grains are still whole with a good bite.
Aside from chicken rice, three Hainanese favourites stand out as crowd pleasers at Yet Con. One is the classic wok-fried bean thread noodles with pork, prawns, squid and spring onion stalks. Generously infused with dried shrimps which have been lightly toasted and slathered with fragrant soy sauce, the dish is good for one as a main plate or shared amongst a group.
Another dish worth sharing is the wok-braised fish maw, Chinese white cabbage, whole prawns and sliced pork. For the Chinese of the olden days, this platter is usually considered a luxury, often only served during festivities. But today, it becomes food harking back to days gone by. The fish maw which is dried and deep-fried is quickly blanched in hot water before it is wok-braised with toehr ingredients. It remains its signature texture with a crunch.
Visiting Yet Con for a meal and not ordering its Hainanese pork chop is almost a crime. The succulent pork loin is first breaded thinly with crushed cream crackers before it is deep-fried until golden brown. The gravy that coats the pork chop is always a family secret - each Hainanese family has its own version. At Yet Con, onion strips, deep-fried potato cubes and tomatoes are abundantly found swimming in the gravy. Have the gravy with a fragrant bowl of chicken rice and you may just ask for another bowl! JS