Chef Wan’s name should be no stranger to foodies in Singapore or in the region. Having been in the culinary scene for 35 years, Chef Wan is known for his repertoire of Asian cooking and recipes, and his bubbly personality. He once opened a buffet restaurant in Plaza Singapura a few years ago, but that has since closed. Now, he returns with his first-ever a la carte concept that serves authentic heritage Asian food, with a small addition of international cuisines.
The restaurant occupies a corner at the second level of Esplanade Theatres, with full-length glass windows and a simple, homely decor.
Throughout his days as a chef, Chef Wan has been served royalties, sultans and celebrities across the world. In this restaurant’s menu, some of the dishes are the very same ones that he has served the dignitaries, so you can be sure that they are of top-notch quality!
The Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup ($17.90+) is the Brunei Sultan’s favourite. Simmered and boiled for many hours, this soup is robust and uplifted by a medley of spices. The oxtail parts had layers of fat but the meat was tender.
The Prawn Curry with Pineapple ($21.90+) was something I’ve not tried before. It’s apparently a famous Malaysian-style curry, and here, I could taste the slight tinge of sweetness from the pineapple and thought it contrasted nicely with the spicy curry.
One of the signature dishes is the Chef Wan’s Selangor Beef Rendang ($22.90+). It comes with the crackers which is meant to be eaten with the beef rendang. The beef was very tender, almost reaching the melt-in-your-mouth texture! And the gravy was of a smooth consistency, enhanced with a blend of aromatic spices. It indeed got me reaching out for more!
The description for the Ayam Percik ($18.90+) was described as “grilled chicken in spicy gravy”, but I beg to disagree. I thought the gravy wasn’t spicy at all, but it was more like a peanut paste, somewhat similar to the satay kind of peanut sauce. Nevertheless, the chicken was marinated very well and grilled to perfection!
The Lawar Salad ($17.90+) is a staple in traditional Balinese cuisine. Made with a variety of ingredients, this salad contains red chillies, fried shallots, long beans, limes, fresh turmeric and many more. The main ones are the chicken breast, candlenuts and jackfruits. Together, all of the above created a sweet, savoury and spicy taste that I found was quite refreshing and delightful.
The Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus with Prawn Fritters ($15.90+) is so named because it pays tribute to Chef Wan’s mother, who supported the family by selling this same recipe of Mee Rebus for 31 years. When I tasted the Mee Rebus, I understood why this humble dish could be the source of income for a family! So delicious and flavourful! Plus it is served with premium crunchy and flavourful prawn fritters, which could have been better perhaps with a thinner exterior layer of batter.
A simple crowd pleaser would be the Ayam Goreng Java Chef Wan ($15.90+), which is Javanese fried chicken drumsticks. It was not too oily but maintained its crispiness and tender meat.
Undoubtedly, another signature dish here is Bibik Neo’s Laksa ($15.90+), which is one that is very dear to Chef Wan’s heart. His grandmother used to cook this on special occasions, and now, whenever Chef Wan himself hosts parties for international celebrities, this is definitely one of the star dishes presented. The gravy was creamy and coconutty – very lemak, yes – and made from a blend of spices and grinded fresh prawns.
Now on to the desserts, the Steamed Jackfruit Coconut ($5.90+) (left) was an interesting one. Because it’s steamed, the custard reminded me of steamed egg! I would say I’m not used to this especially for a dessert dish, but props to the unconventional rendition!
On a happier note, the Chilled Coconut Custard ($5.90+) (right) was a clear winner for all of us. The top layer is coconut custard while the green layer below is coconut pandan, doused in gula melaka sauce, and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. Both the custard layers were smooth and rich in flavour. Definitely a sweet treat for all ages!
The food here at Chef Wan’s Kitchen did live up to expectations. Although the food is considered pricey for local food, the portions are big and some dishes are even fit for 2 to share! Plus you can be assured of its quality, coming from the well-acclaimed Chef Wan himself and the recipes passed down to him from generations ago.
Chef Wan’s Kitchen
Address: Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue, #02-14, Singapore 039802
Telephone: +65 63974911
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 12pm – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm