Entering the space occupied by Yue Bai in Duxton Road, one would be forgiven for mistaking the establishment as a spa. The beautiful wooden lattices and use of neutral colors exude a calming vibe to the space.
Yue Bai opened in December 2022 offering Chinese cuisine prepared using the principles of traditional Chinese dietary therapy (shi liao) so one can expect a number of highly nourishing dishes here. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Lee Hongwei, who previously came from Telok Ayer Arts Club.
Diners can choose from a variety of seating options at Yue Bai, from booth seats near the entrance to traditional round tables or even a private room for bigger groups.
I had a quartet of light bites for appetizers. This included the Crispy Burdock, Sesame, Spice Powder (S$14), Roselle Flower-infused Winter Melon (S$12), Australian Lamb Jelly, Black Bean, Passionfruit-infused Pumpkin (S$22) and Deep-fried Organic Purple Rice Cake, XO Sauce, Rice Puff, Spring Onion (S$16). Among these starters, I found the Deep-fried Organic Purple Rice Cake and Roselle Flower-infused Winter Melon to be the most notable, the former possessing a glutinous texture not too dissimilar to mochi and the latter delightfully crunchy with a sour note.
As mentioned previously, there is no shortage of nourishing dishes at Yue Bai and one highlight is the Double-boiled Silkie Chicken Soup, Jasmine Flower, Dried Longan, Wolfberries (S$22). The chicken broth notably includes actual jasmine flower buds which gives a perceptible floral dimension to the soup.
Departing from the sequence of healthy and nourishing dishes, the Crisp-fried Pork Cartilage, Xin Hui Orange Sauce, Crispy Tofu Ring (S$38) comes with an almost glutinous textured pork cartilage coupled with smaller layers of lean meat and glazed skin. The tofu ring that it sits on can easily be mistaken for a yam ring, especially as the texture is similar to one rather than the soft and wobbly bean curd that one would come to expect.
Nestled in a ball that I mistook for a pinata, the Braised Duck, Sea Cucumber, Hawthorn, Korean Snow Pear (S$58) can easily be mistaken for braised pork once it enters the mouth. One can expect all the good stuff here, including spiky sea cucumber that’s been prepared for 3 days as well as Korean snow pear.
My favorite dish at Yue Bai has got to be the Deep-fried Granola Prawn, Beetroot (S$36). Instead of the usual cereal, the plump ball-shaped prawns were coated in granola consisting of rolled oats, pecans and wolfberries. The result was something highly crunchy and more reminiscent of a whole grain taste, reminding one of actual breakfast fare as compared to the typical cereal in the prawn.
The Herbal Poached Rice, Atlantic Cod, Black Fungus (S$38) is Yue Bai’s take on the poached rice craze sans the ubiquitous rice crisps. The soup here is more herbal than in other places that serve poached rice, as ingredients such as dang shen, angelica sinensis root and wolfberry are thrown into the mix. The highlight for me was the relatively large portion of slippery and smooth cod, a departure from the usual thinly sliced fish that comes with the poached rice.
For desserts, we had the House-made Beancurd with Hashima (S$38) and Crispy Black Sesame Mochi (S$12). While the former was notable for using diluted “pi pa gao” syrup (yes, the type used for coughs), I thought S$38 for an individual beancurd dish was extremely steep. In contrast, I found the Crispy Black more to my liking (although still quite pricey for a small piece) with its chewy texture. It is served with osmanthus syrup on the side.
With the exception of the pork cartilage and perhaps the granola prawns, most dishes I had at Yue Bai were of a lighter profile. Price-wise, it’s close to what Chinese restaurants in hotels are charging but what I like about Yue Bai is that they’re doling out Chinese food with a healthier slant while still being tasty.
33 Duxton Road
Tel: +65 9721 8055
Tuesdays to Sundays
Lunch: 11.45am to 3.00pm (last order 2.15pm)
Dinner: 5.45pm to 10.00pm (last order 9.15pm)