25 Boon Tat Street, Singapore 069622
Tel: 6221 3665
The sultry Oriental settings caught my eyes each time I passed them by, and upon learning of its name, "Sum Yi Tai", which translates into '3rd Mistress' in Chinese, I knew I had to visit this charming little alcove despite the mostly unfavorable reviews.
Like a miniseries, the restaurant / bar is sectionized into 3 stories, each with a different colored theme, but characterized by the 1980s Hong Kong mafia-esque seduction. Some quirky designs include mahjong tiles and a prancing dragon at main entrance, wall of Chinese Compact Discs (CDs) and rows of roast ducks. The top is a roof top bar which makes for the perfect drinking location. Menu is mainly Cantonese / Chinese dishes, signatures are tapas items.
I visited with a friend for lunch. We didn't expect much at all, but the smiles and efficiency of the service crew had us smiling back in turn, enjoying the dining experience here. Cantonese songs fron the 80s were also playing in the background, taking us back in time, to fonder memories.
Complimentary Soup of the Day was being served, and this was refillable. On a rainy day as such, the piping hot Lotus Root Soup was especially delectable and heart-warming. More, more?
We started with Salted Egg Yolk Squid Tentacles (SGD $15.00) - since we were determined to try one of their Chinese tapas, and both love salted egg stuff. The squid was chewy and firm, lightly battered with crackling flour exterior, and subtly redolent of salted egg's taste. The curry leaves flavour obliterated, giving it a nice spicy note.
Crispy Pork Belly with Rice (SGD $8.00) was a huge portion in itself. The kurobuta pork belly had crispy skin, but I thought the porky taste was rather strong, especially surprising since I usually enjoy kurobuta pork. The homemade gravy was good, flavorful.
The Maple Honey Char Siew (SGD $8.00) was a delight - thin slices of brown BBQ pork, the exact type I like in Hong Kong. When bitten into, the maple honey layer crunched ever so gently beneath the teeth, shattering its sweetness across the palate before the smokey, savoury notes of the pork pooled in. The egg noodles were fine and springy as well, making for a good dish overall.
A glass of Merlot (SGD $10.00) accompanied the meal. Even the silver coasters they use are elegant with a retro style.
In summary, we both enjoyed dining at Sum Yi Tai because of the vintage Hong Kong gangster era settings, older Cantonese tunes, courteous service and pretty good foof, really.
I read reviews, I listen to recommendations and cautions, but ultimately I always believe in trying something out for myself because:
1. The items selected might be prepared differently on different days by different chefs
2. Everyone's taste and preferences are unique
3. The restaurant might have taken previois feedback into consideration and made improvements
So, in a nutshell, would I revisit Sum Yi Tai? You bet.