This is one of my favourite Cantonese restaurants, and one of the popular choices for extended family gatherings. One of the most memorable times was when we snuck my Mom out of the hospital, breathing tubes and all, for dinner with the extended family as a special birthday treat.
Zi Yean occupies the whole ground floor of the HDB block, half of it more casual, non-airconditioned, with no service charge but payment terms only in cash. The other half is a little more upmarket, air-conditioned, with service charge, private rooms with karaoke facilities and credit cards are accepted.
Today, we double dated with Beeps and her hubs for dinner. I love going out with them, they're always a hoot and a barrel of laughs. Our dinners always last till the wee hours of the night, or closing time, whichever is the earlier because we just lose track of time yakking away.
We got Zi Yean's signature dish, the Empire Whole Chicken Stuffed with Preserved Vegetable ($20). This is always a crowd-pleaser. The chicken is succulent, fragrant and fall-off-the-bone tender. The preserved vegetable (mei cai) lent a zesty savoury flavour to the chicken meat, and the gravy is decadently luscious.
Zi Yean was out of our favourite vegetable dish, the sauteed French beans, so we got the Braised Chinese Spinach in Broth ($12). This classic dish was delicate in flavour, lifted by the sweet pungency of the golden fried garlic and creamy century egg and topped with crisp whitebait.
We also got the Beancurd with Diced Chicken and Salted Fish in Casserole ($12). This was robust and indulgently rich, great with steaming hot white rice.
We also got a carb dish, the Braised Vegetarian E-fu Noodles ($10), this was perfectly al dente and satisfying.
A special mention must be given to Zi Yean's chili. This is the chicken rice type of chili, piquant, zesty and spicy. It goes with everything, the chicken, the tofu, the spinach and the noodles, and adds an extra kick to the dish.
Zi Yean Restaurant Pte Ltd
Blk 56 Lengkok Bahru
Tel: 6474 0911 (aircon), 6471 0253 (non-aircon)
Opendaily from 11am to 10.30pm