Stories of ex-restaurant chefs striking it out on their own are hardly new. But, what about chefs that completely switched cuisines along the way? That is how Nian Nian You Yu – a fairly new hawker stall opened by a former chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant – came about.
Operating alongside iconic neighbours such as Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake at Maxwell Food Centre on Kadayanallur Street, one would never suspect that Nian Nian You Yu’s chef once churned out mod European at the likes of Bacchanalia and Sommer. Still, it’s not hard to miss this up-and-coming stall with its neon blue sign and its name spelled in both mandarin and pinyin.
Nian Nian You Yu offers steamed fish sets that are individually portioned. Great for solo diners craving steamed fish but don’t want to commit to portions meant for a group! There are Seabass ($7), Pomfret ($6.50), and Golden Snapper ($9) sets available, with your choice of Hong Kong Style, Thai Style Garlic & Lime ($1), or Mala ($1) sauce.
The HK-Style Pomfret ($6.50) is one of the most popular choices, with multiple customers having at least one plate of it at their table. Before you celebrate too much – each portion consists of half the farmed golden pomfret. Still, it’s a pretty generous portion, and the dressing of soy sauce, chicken stock, garlic, and ginger, is comforting and fragrant. A little plain for my liking but, it goes well with the sweet and firm pomfret.
The Thai-Style Garlic & Lime Sea Bass ($7.50) is another crowd-pleaser with a firm and succulent farmed sea bass topped with lime, garlic, and lemongrass. Judging by the plating, it appears that chef and founder Issac Lim’s restaurant days are not far behind him. This zesty dressing, which is available with a $1 top-up, will certainly lift the senses with its lemongrass notes, but not overwhelm the natural flavours of the fish.
Aside from fish, Nian Nian You Yu also dishes up a variety of sharing dishes such as prawns and vegetables. Peckish customers can also indulge in the Steamed Egg ($1) which has a comforting taste and is reasonably priced.
It’s heartening to see younger generations venture into traditional fare. There’s a lot of finesse to be seen and tasted in Nian Nian You Yu’s dishes. Considering the team’s experience and the quality of the fish, I’d say their food is well worth its price!
Address: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, 01-78, Singapore 069184
Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar EW15/ Chinatown DT19/NE4
Monday to Saturday: 11.30am – 2.30pm (lunch), 5pm – 7.30pm (dinner)
Closed on Sunday
Contact: +65 8119 9978