The long strip of Korean restaurants down Northern Boulevard in Murray Hill in the Flushing area has a Singaporean newcomer: Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro, a cozy yet minimalist restaurant specializing in Singaporean comfort food.
The restaurant — bedecked with lots of white, light-hued wood, brass finishes — comes from first-time restaurateur Richard Chan, who moved here from Singapore 35 years ago. It opened earlier this year at 161-16 Northern Boulevard, between 161st and 162nd streets, and has gotten attention for being one of the only Singaporean restaurants in the Flushing area, particularly one in a predominantly Korean part of the neighborhood.
The menu includes Southeast Asian comfort foods with Malaysian, Chinese, and Thai influences typically found in ethnically diverse, immigrant-heavy Singapore but also features dishes with Taiwanese, Korean, and Italian touches. “We include some fusion dishes because of our location in a Korean neighborhood, and Koreans eat pasta, too,” Chan says.
Personal touches from Chan — who worked as a travel agent for 30 years before opening Yummy Tummy but cooked for his family since age 10 — also dot the menu. Taiwanese fare such as barbecued squid tentacles is available in part because Chan’s wife is Taiwanese, and sesame oil chicken soup, an option for a seasonal hot pot menu, is based on a recipe that Chan’s mother used for post-pregnancy recovery.
But Singaporean comfort foods are the flagship. Boneless Hainanese chicken served with green and red chile sauces is a favorite, with a quarter-chicken sold for $9, half for $18.00, or whole for $36. Other dishes include otah otah, a banana leaf-wrapped parcel of minced fish and shrimp for $8; oyster omelette for $12; and bah kut teh, a pork ribs soup at $12 for a small serving or $22 for larger portion, as well as a chile crab dish ($28) that can be made with a Dungeness crab with advance notice. Take a look at the full menu below.
The seasonal winter hot pot menu, ranging from $19.95 to $22.95, also offers Thai tom yum soup and preserved vegetable tuna soup, plus that sesame oil chicken soup. “In Singapore, there’s no cold weather and [this soup] brings up the heat in your body,” he says. “But here, it will help keep you warm in the wintertime.”
While many of these dishes can be found in Singapore, Chan came up with his own recipes as well, combining flavors from a variety of cuisines that are less common to the country. Shishamo or “Willow Leaf Fish,” a Japanese smelt fish brimming with roe, is deep-fried and served in Singaporean black peppercorn sauce. In Japan, it’s often instead grilled with lemon, pepper, and salt.
The second floor of the restaurant is currently being renovated with the installation of a karaoke machine, which chef Chan plans to use for private parties and any customer spillover from the main dining room downstairs.
Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro, located at 161-16 Northern Boulevard, is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with lunch specials served from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Caroline Shin is a food and culture journalist and founder of the Cooking with Granny video and event series, where diverse immigrant grandmothers teach recipes and tell stories.