Ex Mediacorp Actor Lin Yisheng Sells 'Hand-Torn' Mee Hoon Kueh And Set Meals From $4.50 At Home-Style Eatery In Novena - 8 Days Skip to main content

Ex Mediacorp Actor Lin Yisheng Sells 'Hand-Torn' Mee Hoon Kueh And Set Meals From $4.50 At Home-Style Eatery In Novena

His homely nosh attracts a strong office crowd looking for lunch-time options below “$7 or $8”.

If you’ve watched Mediacorp live streaming shopping series The Wonder Shop, you might have noticed a familiar face hawking skincare products – former actor Lin Yisheng, 57.

Yisheng, who starred in dramas like The Unbeatables and Legends Of The Eight Immortals, was a finalist of the inaugural Star Search in 1988, where Zoe Tay emerged the champion. He bowed out of acting in 2003 to focus on his businesses.
Yisheng in The Unbeatables and Legends Of The Eight Immortals.

In 2012, Yisheng made the news when he was embroiled in a dispute involving money meant for charity. The erstwhile actor was accused of cheating three men of donations in connection with a charity soccer match he organised. He was later cleared of the charges. 

Since then, Yisheng has remained out of the public eye until recently when he was spotted on The Wonder Shop as well as the Instagram Stories of Chen Xiuhuan and Zoe when they checked out his new eatery at Goldhill Centre in Novena.

Called Yummiz, the casual standalone eatery, which Yisheng runs with his wife Wendy Sio, 50, offers "home-style" dishes like curry chicken and mee hoon kueh. There are also hawker favourites such as lor mee and bak chor mee.

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When 8days.sg visits Yisheng at his shop, the affable towkay tells us what he’s been up to the past two decades.

“I left Mediacorp ‘cos I wanted to explore new business opportunities. Then, I was running an events management company and was going to open a club called Club Volcano at the now-defunct attraction Volcanoland in Sentosa. It was full house on our opening day, but we were forced to shut after one day ‘cos the landlord whom we sublet the space from owed Sentosa rent. Overnight, my partner and I lost our business. We invested a six-figure sum into that club,” he recalls with a laugh.

Subsequently, he ran an employment agency for three years (it shut in 2012), before starting his own health supplement brand Imperial Health in 2013. It expanded to include a skincare range this year and his new beauty spa is slated to open in a couple of months.

When we ask if he intends to follow the footsteps of some of his peers and make a showbiz comeback, Yisheng says: “I want to keep a low profile.”

“Even when I was doing events management, I did not perform on stage or host the events myself ‘cos I prefer to be behind the scenes. Same for The Wonder Shop. I didn’t want to appear onscreen, but I obliged ‘cos the producers said the programme will only be online, not TV.”

That said, he is open to taking on occasional acting gigs.

“I do miss acting. It would be interesting to go back and meet up with old friends, but not at the moment. Now, I want to focus on my businesses. Perhaps when they are doing very well, I will consider,” he adds.

Dipping his toes in F&B 

It was by pure chance that Yisheng and Wendy, formerly a manager in the marine industry, became first-time F&B towkays.  

They were running some errands in the Novena area and could not find affordable food options, so they decided to start their own eatery. They invested a six-figure sum to set up Yummiz, which opened at the end of June.

“I was looking for hawker food at a food court nearby, and the portions were so small. So my husband suggested we open an eatery serving home-style dishes that we enjoy. The dishes are not very authentic ‘cos they are done homecooked-style, like how we would prepare them at home,” shares Wendy.

Wendy, Yisheng with two of their cooks, Mdm Chua (seated left) and Ong Siew Cheng (right).

The recipes are adapted from the kitchens of their three cooks, who have been working at various hawker stalls and industrial canteens for decades. The ladies, whom Yisheng and Wendy affectionately refer to as “aunties”, do the daily cooking, while the couple take care of the orders and serving. Their four kids, aged 18 to 24, would occasionally help out at the eatery.

Interestingly, one of their cooks, Mdm Chua (seated left in pic), 69, used to run a bak chor mee stall at the NUS Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences canteen for 32 years. She had decided to retire in June and was selling her cooking equipment to Yisheng when he convinced her to work at Yummiz.

“I enjoy working for him. He is a nice man,” she tells us with a smile.

“A lot of customers ask if we are a family business ‘cos we are very close with our staff and are always joking around with them. So, I tell them that they are my aunties,” quips Yisheng.

“We run this place like a family, this is why people tell us our food has the taste of home. Sometimes our regular customers will make special requests for certain dishes and we will oblige.”

The look

Despite being situated on the perimeter of Goldhill Centre, Yummiz is not the easiest to get to, thanks to the construction work along Thomson Road for the upcoming North-South Corridor, which has left part of the building fenced up.

The eatery’s interiors is equally confusing; it’s decked with faux brick wallpaper and clashing rosewood furniture. According to Wendy, it's designed to look like a “teahouse of the olden days” with retro blue porcelain bowls and kopitiam cups to match.

“We wanted to go for the nostalgic feel,” she reasons. “My husband chose the furniture ‘cos he likes rosewood and he insisted on getting these old school cups and bowls. I am very chin chai so I let him decide. We travelled all the way to Malacca to get them ‘cos they are very expensive in Singapore.”

The space can currently seat around 50 pax but there are plans to extend the area at the back to accommodate more tables.

The menu

Since opening its doors two months ago, Yummiz has been attracting office workers in the area with its homely comfort food like sesame oil chicken, laksa, mee siam and bak chor mee. Their bestsellers are their curry chicken and hand-torn mee hoon kueh. 

“We can sell around 50 bowls of mee hoon kueh during lunch time, Sometimes, we have to stop accepting orders ‘cos the waiting time is too long. Mee hoon kueh takes a longer time to prepare ‘cos we tear each piece by hand,” shares Wendy.

Only set meals are available and they all come with your choice of coffee, tea or a canned drink. Prices range from a wallet-friendly $3.50 for a kaya toast set to $6.30 for a curry chicken rice set. When we ask if these are promotional prices, Yisheng replies: “Anything lah. Ongoing lah. Office workers don’t earn a lot, so we’ll keep the set meals at these prices. You can hardly find such affordable prices in this area. A simple meal will set you back around $7 or $8.”

This is probably why there is a mad rush during lunch but Yisheng admits that “business could be better”.

“It is very quiet here during dinner time and on Sundays, so I plan to put up some signs around the building so people know there’s an eatery here,” he says. 

They also plan to introduce new dishes like katsu don, chicken rice and curry fish head to attract the dinner crowd.

Mee Hoon Kueh, $5.80 (8 DAYS Pick!)

Yummiz’s wholesome mee hoon kueh is so, erm yummy, we can’t stop thinking about it. Instead of the usual pork-based broth, the flavourful soup is prepared with ikan billis, and the mee hoon kueh is made fresh from scratch daily. Hand-torn when ordered, the pieces are pleasantly chewy and al dente. 

“Our mee hoon kueh is slightly thicker ‘cos we don’t use the noodle maker to flatten the dough as it affects its chewiness. This is also why the mee hoon kueh takes longer to cook,” shares Wendy. You will not find other noodle options like ban mian or you mian ‘cos “auntie has no time to make them”.

Each bowl comes with seasoned pork slices, spinach, crispy ikan billis and a runny egg. If you ask, they might even give you some ikan billis to snack on the side. 

Wendy tells us that her daughters like to have their mee hoon kueh with curry chicken gravy, so they made some for Elvin Ng and Romeo Tan to try when they dropped by with Zoe and former Mediacorp actress Hong Zhaorong last week. “They both really enjoyed it. Romeo said we should make it our signature dish,” she laughs.
Lin Yisheng's famous friends came by to support and makan. Bottom row: Elvin Ng, Hong Zhaorong, Yisheng, Romeo Tan, Zoe Tay, and Wendy. Top: Yisheng’s daughters Zann, Zaine and Yummiz cook, auntie Siew Cheng.

Bak Chor Mee, $5.30

Yummiz offers both dry and soup versions of bak chor mee, topped with three small meat balls, minced pork, fish cake slices, braised mushrooms, and a serving of lard. We opt for the dry version at Yisheng’s recommendation.

Though it’s whipped up by Mdm Chua, this is not the same bak chor mee she used to serve at NUS. As Yisheng was not a fan of her ketchup-forward sauce, he R&D-ed with different ingredients to zhng her recipe. The result is an umami tossing sauce made from a blend of dark and light soy sauces, chilli and a milky “secret ingredient”. Though not as punchy and vinegary as we’d like, it is tasty nonetheless. The accompanying bowl of soup, made by simmering pork belly, is light and easy on the palate.

Mee Siam, $4.50

No-frills mee siam with the usual fixings like diced tau pok, tau kwa, and hard-boiled egg. The tangy gravy is slightly thicker than most as the couple prefer it rich. It’s not bad, but we would have liked the tau cheo (fermented soy beans) taste to be more pronounced. 

Curry Chicken Rice, $6.30 (8 DAYS Pick!)

We much prefer the Chinese-style chicken curry. Aromatic and lemak, the mildly spicy curry is familiar and comforting, like something your grandma would make. Each serving comes with your choice of a tender chicken drumstick or thigh, two chunks of potato and a generous serving of rice. Their rice is a mix of sticky Japanese pearl rice and Thai grains as the combo, according to Yisheng, offers a better mouthfeel. If you’re not a fan of rice, you can have your curry chicken with noodles ($6.30) or soon, prata.

Lor Mee, $5.80

This is also an elevated version of Mdm Chua’s lor mee recipe. “A lot of customers gave me feedback that that the lor mee was too watery, so I worked with auntie to thicken the gravy as well as enhance the taste,” says Yisheng. 

It’s actually pretty good. As soon as we took a bite of the lor mee, we were hit with the aromatic spices of the gravy. Prepared by simmering pork belly, braising liquid and aromatics like cinnamon, star anise and Chinese five-spice powder, the gravy is flavourful and thick enough to coat the flat yellow noodles easily. The dish is served with ngor hiang, fish cake slices, braised pork belly and a braised egg, while minced garlic, vinegar and chilli are available on the side.

Sesame Oil Chicken Rice, $6.30

Each set comes with five pieces of tender chicken thigh and three potatoes chunks. The gravy is a little on the thin and salty side but very moreish and aromatic. The taste of the sesame oil isn’t too strong and that is what we love about it. We tapow-ed the leftovers which taste even better the next day.

Bottom line

Simple, honest-to-goodness fare that's tasty and easy on the pocket. Zero in on the mee hoon kueh that is comforting and very satisfying — we’ll be back to try it with the curry gravy.

The details

Yummiz is at 187 Thomson Road, Goldhill Centre, S307630. Open Mon to Sat daily 8am-9pm & Sun 8am-2pm. More info at https://www.instagram.com/yummiz187.

Photos: Alvin Teo

No part of this story or photos can be reproduced without permission from 8days.sg.

Tune in to The Wonder Shop live on meWATCH every Tuesday at 9pm for more good deals. You can also catch Yisheng in the episode below:

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