The new Singaporean-themed restaurant and wine bar project is opening directly underneath the award-winning Kissa Tanto at 265 East Pender Street in Chinatown.
Yesterday I took my very first look inside a new restaurant project that was held up a year by the pandemic. The delay was an especially challenging one for all involved and it changed everything, even its concept and ownership structure. But such pressure can create diamonds, which is exactly what I expect Nancy Go Yaya to be. This is due to the fact that the new spot is coming to us from two of the people behind the neighbourhood’s celebrated Bao Bei and Kissa Tanto restaurants, Tannis Ling and Alain Chow, who are joined in co-ownership this time by chef Jian Cheng.
“During the day the space will operate as a self serve café/diner, modelled off of the Singaporean kopitiam [a traditional coffee shop] with a heavy takeout focus.” Tannis explains. “At night, it will turn into a casual wine bar serving Singaporean street snacks.” Chef Jian, a Singaporean, promises his own takes on classics like laksa and nasi lemak in the day time, while at night we’ll see sharable stuff like cereal fried chicken, curry potato chips, and Peranakan spicy pickles.
To drink, I’m told we can anticipate signatures like Singaporean Sling slushies and Tiger Shandies alongside a deep selection of interesting, chosen-to-pair wines. I’ve seen working copies of all the menus, and I’m looking forward to eating my way through everything, especially the Milo Pavlovas and Pineapple Upside Down Cassava Cakes!
The 20+ seat cafe and wine bar combo (not including the temporary curbside patio) makes up only the front half of the 3,200 sqft space. The back half will be revealed in the autumn as a relaxed hang out called the Casuarina, where Tannis says “the vibe will be more moody and cozy.” They’ll be working on the 30+ seat concept and its offerings all summer long, when the Casuarina will likely also be used for special dinners and private events.
Nancy Go Yaya, as you can see from the images above and below, is still very much a work in progress that gives little in the way of hints as to what it will look like when it’s finished, Casuarina included. I’ll have more on the project as it progresses this Spring.
What’s in a name? Yaya is a Malay slang word that is used to describe someone who thinks of themselves as really fancy but others view as a little arrogant, so maybe this is where Nancy goes to be a little fancy. Casuarina is a pine-like genus of tree that includes 17 species, several of which are native to Singapore.
Take a closer look…