YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish opens in VivoCity
My colleague and I have been on a Chinese cuisine roll of late—we visited Chengdu Bowl just two Fridays ago, and found ourselves at another Sichuan spot this week. Yet another new opening that’s set to launch at VivoCity on 3 August 2023 is YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish, a famous Chinese chain with more than 60 outlets in China that specialises in 酸菜鱼 (suān cài yú).
If you’re unfamiliar with suan cai yu, it reads “sour vegetable fish”, literally translated, or fish with pickled mustard greens. The story goes that a fisherman dropped his catch into a pot of pickled veg broth that his wife was cooking—accidentally of course—and suan cai yu was born.
Food at YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish
YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish is said to be one of the top 10 suan cai yu brands in China, and you can’t leave without trying their namesake dish. YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish comes in three sizes: $48++, $68++, and $88++, with the largest portion good for up to six diners to share.
Like at hotpot, the restaurant also allows you to choose a duo-pot option so you can pair your suan cai yu with one of three other dishes: Tomato Fish, Sichuan Poached Fish, and Typhoon Shelter Shrimp with Fries. Each of these YAO YAO Super Combination pots is priced at $53++, and is good for two.
I’ve never thought of trying suan cai yu at some of the other eateries in town because I’m picky with my fish. So when I heard that YAO YAO uses California White Seabass, I thought I’d give it a shot. Fresh, boneless slices of the fish are marinated each morning, and cooked to order.
It was a pleasant surprise to find the fish tender and fresh tasting, without any muddy or fishy flavour. They’re also lightly velveted so they don’t break apart in the soup.
Then, there’s the soup, which was savoury and sour from the 24-day fermented sauerkraut, or suan cai. It’s cooked in a broth that’s simmered for at least eight hours, with spices specially imported from Sichuan. I was told that some other suan cai yu restaurants serve theirs more peppery, or even sweet, so YAO YAO’s version was a more appetising broth—if that’s what you prefer.
Unlike anywhere else, you can order XXL Crispy You Tiao ($5++) to go with your poached fish.
In the same way that we dip you tiao in soy milk or bak kut teh, you can also dip pieces of this arm-long cruller into the broth. While it was truly ultra crisp, the insides were a little less light and airy than I like; the you tiao also became rather greasy, though no less crisp, at the end of our meal. Having it dunked in the suan cai soup was a pretty novel experience too, but I think I’d like the broth better with some good ol’ white rice ($0.80++/$1.50++)—YAO YAO serves award-winning Northeast Wuchang rice cooked in Nongfu Mountain spring water.
Mala fans will definitely enjoy the Sichuan Poached Fish, better known as 水煮鱼 (shuǐ zhǔ yú). The fish held up well in this, and we found ourselves asking for iced water to beat the heat of the numbing, fragrant broth, full of the requisite red-hot spicy oil and Sichuan peppercorns.
For equal parts soup and dry, the Typhoon Shelter Shrimp with Fries duo is the option to pick. Typhoon shelter seafood originated in Hong Kong, and typically features pungent flavours of black bean, chilli, and garlic—YAO YAO’s take on this has a light numbing spice too.
P.S.: the prawns are fried such that you can eat the entire thing, head, shell and all!
In the spirit of having a great meal, YAO YAO also serves Peking duck that you can have alongside your suan cai yu. Order YAO YAO Peking Duck ($45++/$90++) a la carte, or as a combo with the suan cai yu!
A $78++ set for two comes with one portion of fish with half a duck and Garlic & Sichuan Pepper Duck, fried with the odds and ends of the duck, as well as Red Bean Cold Jelly ($3++). The $98++ meal for three gets you the same fried duck and jelly, plus Poached Cai Xin w Crispy Whitebait ($11++).
Give their Peking duck a try: you get to garnish your crepe roll with slices of honeydew, and a house-made sesame mustard dip!
On the side, I enjoyed YAO YAO’s Sour & Spicy Organic White Fungus ($9++), with its light spice and aromatic sesame oil dressing.
The Chilled Lettuce w Sesame Sauce ($10++) was also a good foil to the heady spices of the main dishes.
We also tried Sichuan Spicy Poached Chicken ($12++), which I found to be a little flat in flavour.
This comes with a whole, boneless chicken drumstick, but I felt that the meat was a tad stringy, and could be more tender.
End your meal on a sweet note with some Rainbow Cold Jelly ($8++), with its base of house-made oolong tea jelly. It’s topped with raisins, red bean, crushed peanuts, dried hawthorn and more; you’ll also get cold coconut milk to drizzle over!
Ambience at YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish
YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish sits on the second floor of VivoCity, with half its dining area facing the waterfront and Sentosa. Located right above Harbourfront MRT Station, getting here is as convenient as it gets. The restaurant is well-appointed, with more than 80 seats available in its brightly lit space.
I actually enjoyed the suan cai yu at YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish and would come back to have it again. It’s a bit oily, but that’s to be expected of the dish and cuisine. It’s hearty, tangy, and would be so good on a cold, wet day with a bowl of rice—I missed out on this carb on my visit, so I’m looking forward to doing so on my next.
In conjunction with their opening, and the upcoming National Day, YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish is offering 58% off Yao Yao Sauerkraut Fish for two from 7 to 9 August 2023! That means you’ll be paying just $20.20++ for your suan cai yu instead of $48++, which is limited to one order a table.
Address: 1 HarbourFront Walk, #02-145/146, VivoCity, Singapore 098585
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5pm to 9:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am to 3:30pm, 5pm to 9:30pm
YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish is not a halal-certified eatery
Photos taken by Ke-ian J Leong.
This was a media tasting at YAO YAO Sauerkraut Fish.