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Digest 5 Reasons To Visit Circa 1912

5 Reasons To Visit Circa 1912

Roast Iberico Char Siew
By Dudi Aureus
July 28, 2018
In line with a renewed interest in heritage cuisines, this rare offering revives traditional dishes from the golden age of Lingnan cuisine

1/5 Unique offering

Chef David Yip
Chef David Yip

Chef and restaurateur David Yip is back on the local scene, after a successful stint in Hong Kong, with the opening of Circa 1912, which specialises in Lingnan cuisine. “It’s the food that I grew up eating,” he shares, adding that the menu is a nod to its golden age in China, which peaked in 1912 and forms the backbone of Cantonese cuisine as we know it today.

2/5 Brains behind the restaurant

Winter melon with crab and Chinese ham
Winter melon with crab and Chinese ham

There are two chef-scholars in the team, Yip and co-owner Xu Jingye, whose responsibilities include reviving old recipes such as the winter melon with crab and Chinese ham. “We spend time researching how these dishes originated and evolved over time, so we can replicate them as close as possible,” says Yip. They work closely on the execution with Chinese-born resident chef Yuan Aifei, who runs the kitchen day to day.

3/5 Signature dishes

Golden Coin Chicken
Golden Coin Chicken

One recommendation is the Golden Coin Chicken, which Yip says is a true test of a chef’s skills. The dish resembles a stacked burger, and comprises mini patties of pork, chicken liver and cured candied lard. The chef roasts these “coins” to perfection—this means ensuring that the chicken liver doesn’t overcook before the pork and the candied lard are done. The taste is similar to bak kwa, with the sweetness of the fat complemented by the textures of the pork and liver.

4/5 Rare offerings

Steamed fish and pork ball
Steamed fish and pork ball

The deep-fried superior stock and pig’s brain, which is an almost forgotten dish, is another signature at the restaurant. “There are only a handful of chefs in Hong Kong who offer it, and we are the only ones in Singapore who serve this,” Yip says. Perhaps it is because of the complicated way the dish is made; the frozen superior stock is cut and encased in nuggets. These are fried to a crisp, resulting in a crunchy shell with a rich and melt-in-the-mouth filling.

5/5 Made from scratch

Roast Iberico Char Siew
Roast iberico char siew

The cuisine harks back to the time before modern gadgets dominated the kitchen, and when a chef’s mettle was proven in the way he wielded a knife. The majority of the sauces, condiments and stocks are made from scratch. “We make our oyster sauce from fresh oysters, while the marinade for our roast iberico pork char siew is prepared by drying and fermenting soy beans in the sun, and grinding them into a paste,” Yip confirms. Some ingredients are sourced from artisanal producers in China who he admits, do it better.

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Digest circa 1912 david yip lingnan cuisine chinese restaurant

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