When done well, soup kambing, as it’s called, is a hefty flavor bomb that’s hard to forget. It comes infused with coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg and star anise (among other spices) and dotted with crispy fried shallots and soft onion chunks.
This, no doubt, is the Chanel of soups.
When to have it, however, turned out to be something to consider.
“You can’t have soup kambing now lah,” said my friend Basil, who had told me about Yassin, prompting me to immediately suggest heading there for dinner. “It’s mabuk food.”
Ahh, drunk food — the dishes that are the perfect panacea when you’re leaving a bar at 2 a.m. and looking for something to quell your hunger and sober you up. In the case of soup kambing, this heady concoction of spices does an especially efficient job of clearing your head and helping you wade out of your Chivas fog.
I didn’t want to have to get drunk in order to try Yassin’s though. So after some persuading, we were on our way.
Now, even though the place has the word “restaurant” in its name, like most fantastic eateries in Singapore, it’s a pretty bare-bones operation.
Sticky tables are set out on the grimy sidewalk; air-conditioning, of course, is non-existent.
For just Singapore $3 or U.S. $2.10, you get a pretty large bowl of soup. And what a soup it is.
For starters, it comes flecked with so many spices your tongue could explode trying to dissect all the flavors. (If you’re not generally a fan of mutton, do not be afraid — the spice combination in this soup more than stands up to the strong taste of the meat.)
At Yassin, the soup is served with so many mutton bits, onions and crispy shallots (that are particularly amazing after they’ve become sodden with soup) that each spoonful gives you added big chunks of flavor. But even without them, the broth itself is so stuffed with spices that it’s practically chewy.
Ask for the French bread (for an additional Singapore $0.50/U.S. $0.35) — you’ll want it for dipping.
It was just OK — and a little skimpy on the minced mutton. But honestly, after the soup kambing, anything else we ate at Yassin would probably have been a letdown.
Yassin does a nice job with its teh halia — you can definitely taste the fresh ginger (and sense it in your nostrils) but the overall flavor is not overpowering.
I just hope I remember how to make my way there the next time I’m mabuk.
786 Yassin Restaurant, 945 Serangoon Road, Tel. No.: