Yat Ka Yan Dessert, Bencoolen: “Traditional desserts reminiscent of sweet childhood nostalgia, but also way better”

Singaporeans are huge fans of the nostalgic—we can’t help but fall head over heels for returning trends that throwback to the past, from ice gem cookies to bowls of silky orh nee—you name it. One of the places that have gotten many rave reviews from old souls in the foodie community is Yat Ka Yan Dessert, a place that serves up the most comforting bowls of traditional desserts.

Some of you discerning foodies might have noticed a rather curious resurgence in the popularity of orh nee and orh nee-related pastries, but that’s not all. Spots like Ah Chew Desserts at the bustling Liang Seah Street are now drawing more fervorous crowds than ever—it’s obvious we love our old-school treats.

Yat Ka Yan Dessert storefront

If you’re looking for a place that gives you that nostalgic satisfaction without the tormentous waits that popular old-school classics like Ah Chew ask of you, look no further than Yat Ka Yan Dessert. This quaint dessert stall hidden on the second floor of Fortune Centre is not as widely-known but it has its legion of diehard regulars.

It’s no wonder because as the name ‘Yat Ka Yan’ (Cantonese for ‘one family’) suggests, the dessert stall treats all its customers as one family and prepares the most satisfying bowls of homemade desserts that will promptly remind you of the warmth of home.

Yat Ka Yan Dessert

With just a simple getup boasting of plain white walls and some endearing traditional touches that you won’t find amiss if you spot them in your grandparent’s house, this is a cosy and intimate space for anyone to head over to curb their post-dinner sweets cravings.

What I tried

Yat Ka Yan Dessert has an impressively wide plethora of traditional sweet treats for every different kind of palate out there. If you need a refreshing bowl of Cheng T’ng (S$3) for the hot weather, you got it. Crave a gratifying post-dinner dessert to fill up your dessert stomach? They also have desserts such as Chendol (S$3.20) ready to go.

Yat Ka Yan Dessert

And if you’re a chendol fan then you shouldn’t miss out on their Chendol. Having heard many rave reviews of their rendition of the local favourite as well as their yam-based desserts, I decided to compromise and get a luxurious bowl of Yammy Chendol (S$5.50) that includes a creamy pile of yam to go with the shaved ice.

As far as chendol in Singapore goes, I contend that Yat Ka Yan Dessert’s rendition is one of the top-tier ones. For me, it beats out certain favourites such as Nyonya chendol and falls in the bracket right below my favourite Old Amoy Chendol—and that is a mighty high bar in my book.

Yat Ka Yan Dessert chendol

Even with the robust presence of gula melaka, Yat Ka Yan Dessert’s Chendol is immaculately balanced and avoids any of the traps of being too saccharine or cloying that some chendol places unwittingly fall into. It’s fragrant but controlled and the components were all very well executed too, from the thinness of the shaved iced to the soft texture of the pandan jelly. 

Alas, the yam didn’t really fit into the dish coherently—while the yam was rather smooth and enjoyable by itself, the pale-purple puree just didn’t mesh well with the heady aroma of the gula melaka. I suggest going for the plain Chendol as is.

Walnut sesame paste

Another thing I had to beeline for Ya Kat Yan Dessert’s Walnut Sesame Paste (S$4), having grown up on a motley of smooth, hearty pastes made by my grandma and the ones my parents store-bought, it’s not a tongshui experience without some pasty indulgences.

This was a velvety treat with enough viscosity to coat the entire palate without a hitch and more importantly, it retains a lot of those punchy flavours of walnut and sesame without everything getting muddled into an overly-sweet mess. As with the Chendol, the sweetness was controlled with plenty of expert finesse.

Black glutinous rice with ice cream

Digging deeper into the pit of nostalgia, it was a no-brainer to order the Black Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream (S$4.50)—it’s got both ice cream and black glutinous rice, two of my ultimate childhood guilty pleasures. I wasn’t expecting much but this was a runaway hit.

Yat Ka Yan Dessert somehow managed to concoct the smoothest, sexiest pool of black glutinous rice that slid down the spoon with a seductive slickness while not being too watery. Packed with an intoxicating black glutinous rice aroma and then accentuated with silky ice cream, this was a true textural treat.

Final thoughts

This is the perfect place to head to if you’re looking for supremely heart-warming treats to spur up your reserves of nostalgia-related dopamine. While I want to say their traditional desserts are homely throwbacks to my childhood favourites but, in reality, they are actually comfortably better.

My grandma probably never would have made anything as smooth and deftly balanced as them, truth be told. And that’s the beauty of this tongshui stall at Fortune Centre—Yat Ka Yan Dessert does traditional desserts reminiscent of childhood nostalgia but also way, way better.

Expected damage: S$4 – S$6 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Yat Ka Yan Dessert

190 Middle Road, Fortune Centre, #02-08 , Singapore 188979

Our Rating 5/5

Yat Ka Yan Dessert

190 Middle Road, Fortune Centre, #02-08 , Singapore 188979

Operating Hours: 1.30pm - 10pm (Mon, Wed & Thu), 1.30pm - 11pm (Fri to Sun), Closed on Tue

Operating Hours: 1.30pm - 10pm (Mon, Wed & Thu), 1.30pm - 11pm (Fri to Sun), Closed on Tue
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