We’d made plans with our friend Mandy to go on a durian-eating session in Geylang (read about my Singapore durian fest) but met up for dinner first. We went to Yet Con, a coffee shop on Purvis Street that is known for its Hainanese cuisine.
An elderly uncle sits sternly at the front counter directing the traffic, overseeing the chopping of cooked chickens and taking the money. The abacus and an orange coin-operated payphone add to the coffee shop’s old-fashioned feel, but thankfully it’s an air-conditioned dining room.
On our marble top table were jars of chilli sauce and minced ginger, light and dark soy sauce and a steamboat burner, which we may have used on a different day, to sample Yet Con’s “economical steamboat”. But tonight, we were just after a quick dinner.
You can’t choose the part of the chicken you’d like, so we shared half a poached chicken. Individual bowls of fragrant chicken rice were quickly delivered to our table, followed by big bowl of soup with smaller bowls to ladle into, and the chicken. The roughly chopped chicken was piled on the plate, cucumber chunks scattered around it. The flesh was lean and almost gamey, like a kampung (village) chicken. People sensitive to a strong natural chicken flavour may find Yet Con’s chicken too ‘chickeny’. The rice was savoury and delicious. Was it as good as Tian Tian? For me it was different, rather than better (or not). They’re now both on my Singapore chicken rice shortlist.
Chop suey’s not a dish I’d usually order, but Jac liked the sound of mixed vegetables with pork, prawns and squid (I think she was just desperate to include vegetables in our meal). You can’t go wrong with chunks of meat and veggies in a garlicky sauce – it was a very home-style dish that reminded me of my late grandma’s cooking.
When I was a kid, my grandma sometimes cooked chicken chop, boneless, lightly battered chicken in a tasty sauce with sliced fried potatoes, tomatoes and onions. We ordered Yet Con’s Hainanese pork chop – a juicy crumbed pork chop with a dark crisp crust, served with sliced fried potatoes, tomatoes, peas and onions, all smothered in a tangy sweet sauce. I really enjoyed this taste of nostalgia but Jac found the sauce too sweet. Luckily I was there to help eat her share.
Our table had the only Westerner in the place. The dinner crowd appeared to be mostly locals, always a great sign when you’re after a good feed in a touristy town.
Around here, just about everyone claims their Hainanese chicken rice is ‘famous’. The trick is to eat your way to discover which ones deserve fame! Yet Con has been selling chicken rice from this very shop since 1940 – to thrive for so long in Chicken Rice City, they’re doing something right.
25 Purvis Street, Singapore
+65 6337 6819
Jac and I were in Singapore for 8 nights in July 2014. We paid for this trip ourselves and our friend Mandy was our local guide and makan kaki (eating buddy).
- Ice cream wafer
- Al Tasneem
- Forget chilli crab! Keng Eng Kee Seafood
- Chomp Chomp Food Centre
- High tea at the Raffles Hotel Singapore
- Tian Tian and Zhen Zhen, Maxwell Food Centre
- My Singapore durian fest
- Azmi Chapati
- Yet Con – this post
- LEGOLAND Malaysia
- Dong Po Colonial Cafe