Myo Restobar sounds more like a place to go for cocktails and tapas than dimsum and claypot chicken. It looks like one too, with its spare, industrial-looking grey interiors and a wall installation of turning cogwheels.
Still, it serves Cantonese food and its signature dish is a whole chicken wrapped in cabbage leaves and braised in a claypot.
If that sounds like the dish made famous by Kia Hiang, that is because Myo is opened by the same Ng family behind that restaurant. It started in International Plaza more than 30 years ago and had outlets in Kim Tian Road, Sun Plaza and UE Square at various times.
The new restaurant is the family's attempt to reach out to younger customers and the name is a variation of the Chinese word miao, which means exquisite and wonderful.
It is an apt description for the Kia Hiang Claypot Spring Chicken ($18), a dish I first tried more than a decade ago at the UE Square outlet. With the chicken wrapped in cabbage and halfsubmerged in a dark brown gravy, the dish is a challenge to photograph but tastes wonderful.
The gravy, from a recipe that the Ngs keep secret, has a deep and robust flavour from a blend of sauces. The chicken is simmered in it till the meat is soft and comes off the bone easily.
The dish calls for a bowl of rice so that you can ladle spoonfuls of the gravy over it. Just eating the meat does not do it justice.
19-01, Lobby 1 Oxley Tower, 138 Robinson Road, tel: 6931-1247
Open: Sundays to Fridays, 11am to 9pm. Closed on Saturdays and public holidays
Price: Budget from $40 a person. Lunch sets available from $16 a person
A good gravy is also what makes the dimsum item, Braised Chicken Feet In Abalone Sauce ($4.80), a standout. Unlike the mildly sweet-spicy gravy used in other restaurants, the one here is darker, sticky with collagen and more savoury, with no hint of sugar. And the chicken feet are stewed without having been deep-fried first.
Dimsum is served at both lunch and dinner, though the selection at night may be more limited as some items could run out.
For my dinner, I also order the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($5.20) and Steamed Siu Mai With Conpoy And Black Truffle ($5.20). Both pass muster, but are not remarkable. The Flaky Black Angus Pastry ($5.80) makes a strong impression, with its delicious filling.
The other dishes I try are generally good, family-style fare. Servings are small, but prices are low, so you can try more dishes.
For example, you do not have to order a whole garoupa. Instead, the fish comes in boneless fillets to accommodate small dining groups and budgets. I order the Fried Garoupa Fillet With Garden Greens (from $14 for small) and am happy with the thick slices of fish fried with mushrooms, carrot, broccoli and pine nuts.
If you prefer meat, the Black Pepper Angus Ribeye Cubes ($18) does not disappoint. The beef is nicely undercooked and tender, and the black pepper sauce not too fiery. It's another item that goes well with rice.
One dish, however, disappoints.
The Myo Chilli Crabmeat With Buns ($14 for small) is created for diners who do not want to get their hands messy dealing with crab shells. But using frozen crabmeat in place of live crabs means the shellfish is dry, with no juices to flavour the piquant chilli sauce. So until the restaurant figures out how to fix it, I would give the dish a miss for now.
Chinese restaurants seldom boast interesting desserts, but the Young Coconut Stewed With Peach Resin ($8) here is something I will order again. The combination of egg white, coconut water and sugar steamed in a coconut shell produces a fragrance that is hard to resist. Little orange pellets of peach resin, which are like agar-agar, float on the surface. It is a little too sweet for me, but no one else at my table is complaining.
Myo is located in an office block in the Central Business District (CBD), so expect crowds during lunch on weekdays. If you are not working in the vicinity, the best time to go is in the evenings and on Sundays. That's also when parking in the CBD is cheap and plentiful.
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•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.