There was so much talk when Xi Yan opened its first casual dining restaurant at the Shaw Centre, Singapore. It was so popular then that queues were formed and food was sold out by 8.30pm, one-and-a-half hours before its closing time. It was not until a few days ago (nearly two months after its October 15 opening) that I managed to try this famous eatery.
I must say Xi Yan is definitely worth the wait. This is probably the only restaurant in Singapore that I went back for dinner on two consecutive nights. I’ve managed to try most of the dishes and I’m impressed with its high culinary standard.
Xi Yan Shaw (Casual Dining) at Shaw Centre
Dishes here are generally good to excellent. One of my favourites is the Deep Fried Shrimp Paste Fish Fillet with Pomelo and Water Chestnut Salad. I’m not a big fan of fish but this is very different. The fish fillet has a light yet crispy outer shell. The fish meat is flaky, soft and not oily. The tangy and sweet sauce draws flavour from the pomelo and it pairs perfectly with the crispy fish meat. The crunchy water chestnut also gives the dish more bite.
Deep Fried Shrimp Paste Fish Fillet with Pomelo and Water Chestnut Salad
The other dish that stood out is the Fried XO Chai Po Radish Cake. Unlike the softer radish cake that is commonly found in the hawker centres, Xi Yan’s version has a firmer texture. It comes with a generous amount of eggs and bean sprouts. But it was the well-balanced flavour from the XO sauce and chai po that made the radish cake a must try at Xi Yan.
Fried XO Chai Po Radish Cake
If you have stomach for more, the Salivating Spicy Chicken is another must-have dish. The poached chicken meat is extremely tender. I love the unusual use of century eggs, peanuts and thick glass noodles with the tender chicken meat. The crunchy peanuts and delicate century eggs provided an additional dimension to an otherwise ordinary dish. But beware, this dish is slightly spicy because of the use of chilli oil in its sauce.
Salivating Spicy Chicken
As for the Yunnan Ham Niang Dou Fu in Special Broth, it is delectable although I wouldn’t say I went crazy over it. The broth is flavourful and has a slight peppery taste. The meat filling in the niang dou fu is quite substantial and delicious. The good thing about the broth is that there is no MSG in it.
Yunnan Ham Niang Dou Fu in Special Broth
If you like fried chicken wings, then you might want to order the Fried Bean Curd Cheese Chicken Wings. Me, being a chicken-wing lover, could easily wipe out a plate of these succulent chicken wings. The wings are well flavoured and it’s not overly seasoned that you find it hard to swallow after a piece or two. The fact that it’s not oily helps to reduce the guilty feeling.
However, I was not impressed with the Pork Patties with Salted Fish and Water Chestnut. I find the meat patties a tad too tough. The flavour of the salted fish was too mild and it was somehow lost in the abundance of water chestnut.
Fried Bean Curd Cheese Chicken Wings
Among the two fried rice dishes which I’ve tried, it was the Black Truffle Yunnan Ham Fried Rice that impressed me the most. The fragrance of the black truffle oil brought this ordinary fried rice dish to the next level. Of course, I love the generous use of Yunnan ham and each individual grain of rice was evenly coated, a mark of great fried rice. On the other hand, the “Pregnant Woman” Fried Rice didn’t really suit my taste bud. It was probably due to the black olives.
Black Truffle Yunnan Ham Fried Rice
A meal is never complete without dessert. The Lychee Ice Cream in Osmanthus wine is heavenly. And I would strongly recommend it.
Xi Yan has proven that it can do both high-browed and casual dining equally well. If it is not because its isolated location, the place would have garnered even more crowd.
Xi Yan Shaw (Casual Dining)
1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre,
#03-12/13, Singapore 228208
Tel: +65 6733 3476