It was lyn's mum's birthday. And the filial kids decided to treat her to dinner at Xi Yan. It is a 3 months long waiting list, this proves how popular this place is. I was asked to fill up the additional seat as there was a minimum reservation requirement (for 6). I read about this place and wanted to make a tasting trip, but realize I will probably never have a chance. Boy was I glad I had to fill in, the experience was...ORGASMIC!
The day finally arrived. We punctually arrived at 38A Criag Road as requested by the restaurant. I gingerly skipped up the stairs lit with candles. My stomach was squealing in anticipation(also because I ate a light lunch). We were welcomed with a red board with the name of the place written in gold.
We stepped into a area filled with 5 tables (Each table seats 10-12 people) only. I sat down and stared at this little menu infront of me. No choices were given, the menu just plainly wrote the 12 course feast we were about to receive. The name of the dishes never gave too much information of the dish, but did not give any flowery description. The jasmine tea served was very fragant, very few places give such quality tea.
King crab & sashimi salad with 2 sauces
The appetizer was placed on the lazy suzy and before I could tuck in, the waiter went on to explain how the dish was done, highlighted the unique area of the dish and suggested how to consume our dinner. The waiter took a little time to get use to as he spoke with a little fake accent.
2 sauces, the one on the left is the mint sauce and the one on the far right is the balacan sauce. The middle is the usual wasabi. The mint sauce is THE BOMB. It went really well with the sashimi. Infact it was so good, I did not even bother with the wasabi. The balacan sauce was a little too overpowering for my liking. The sashimi was very fresh and the greens were tangy and tasty.
The executive chef (very young and down to earth guy) came out later to have a chat with us. He even told us the mint sauce was made of fish sauce, calamansi juice, sugar, a pinch of salt, some melted butter, fresh mint leaves blended together. How about that? No secret at all.
Japanese tomatoes in sesame sauce
This dish has my vote for the best dish of the night. The huge tomatoes were flown in from Japan and dressed in sesame sauce. The sauce made up of sesame oil, sesame seeds and some wasabi. The combination was perfect. Not too overpowering sesame taste yet with a refreshing feel from the tomatoes. You can taste the slight wasabi lingering in your tongue.
Cold Tofu Pork Floss
This is a simple yet delectable dish. The silky soft tofu was fl was covered with a layer of fried shallots, pork floss and topped with salted egg yolk. The sauce main ingredients were light soya sauce and sesame oil.
fermented bean curd fried oysters
The waiter informed us the use of red fermented bean curd from Hong Kong (the other kind is salty). He added that this was the last of the appetizer. That gave me a shock, I mean after 4 dish and u tell me I am still at the appetizer?!? Each one took 2-3 pieces and the dish was gone in less than 5 mins. The bean curd was wrapped around the oyster and fried, giving it the soft on the inside, crispy on the outside (which by the way is how a lot of the dishes are done here). A really interesting mixture of sweetness and oyster taste. Great way to end the starters.
Ginger balacan roasted chicken
This look like the typical dish served at a Chinese dinner. The waiter emphasised that the chicken was tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. The chicken was marinated with balacan and accompanied by a home made Thai sauce. I thought the chicken was not was juicy, but the crispy skin was done just nice. The balacan flavour was somewhat missing, got to try very hard to get the marination. But the Thai sauce was great. The chef really know his sauces!
The zhao pai cai (famous dish) comes in mild, medium or spicy. The waiter suggested medium as some people even think that is too hot to handle. I was a little surprise lyn's family followed his advice as the are a family who love their chili. True enough, it was not spicy to us.
This dish came in 3 distinct parts. Century eggs, pork boiled in ginger and Japanese yam noodles. The sauce was a mixture of chili oil, soy sauce, sesame sauce, peanuts and sesame seeds were added for texture. The sauce had a tinge of spiciness with light saltiness. It complimented well with the springy noodles and simple yet tender port. The century egg helped to neutralise the taste, such that every mouthful was a new experience. I really like that noodles, probably could eat it with the sauce only.
We are halfway done with the dinner! I am 3/4 filled. I want to add that by this point, I felt there was too much sesame in the full course of dinner. I like sesame, infact I add it to my maggi noodles. But the constant taste of it becomes a little numbing.
Fried Lemongrass shrimp paste grouper
The waiter mentioned that this is a variation of the usual shrimp paste chicken and stressed that the fish was very fresh, so fresh it came to the restaurant alive. I was flabbergasted when he mentioned that as I stared at the fish. Why did they fry a fresh fish? The reason given was 60% of the nutrients will be lost if they steam the fish.
The fish was indeed very fresh. I like the light taste of the shrimp paste and crisp skin (Yet another soft on the inside, crispy on the outside). This dish was done perfectly, you can taste the fish at its natural goodness without the fishy smell. The sides of pomelo mix with onions and tangy lime was brilliant.
Crab roe glutinous rice.
This is the last main course. I did not find anything special about the dish. The rice was tasty but the crab meat was a little too dry for my liking. But then again, it is not the crab but the crab roe. Let me tell you, the crab roe was in abundance. Thick and bright orange. This dish is good when you mix all together and eat.
Fruit intermezzon in plum sauce
This was done to clear the palates like French cusines. Really interesting idea to soak the fruits in plum sauce. It was a nice break as I was about to burst! Very refreshing dish!
Coconut Chicken Soup
The waiter served each of us a bowl of chicken soup and introduce it to us as.....
"Here is the coconut chicken soup"
The shortest introduction of the night. A little too sweet for my liking, probably because of the coconut. But still it is good, what is a meal without soup right?
For the picture.....just imagine a bowl of chicken soup.
Young and old happy news
This is probably the most cryptic dish name. We were all guessing what it will be. It turned out to be baby kailan with raddish. The simplicity of the dish probably caught us off guard. The explanation given was when the old (raddish) meets the young (baby kailan), it signifies a reunion, so its happy news.
Simple greens, stir fired and filled with the flavours. But I thought it was a little too salty.
Dragon fruit sorbet
The dessert was sorbet made of red dragon fruit sprinkled with diced white dragon fruit. I like white dragon fruit because it has a subtle sweetness to it. But the red dragon fruit is an acquired taste which even I myself have not taken to. It was still an interesting concept.
The dinner ended with the executive chef serving us a cocktail himself (pretty young). It was a shot of lime, honey and whiskey which I thought was done perfectly. A fitting way to end the exquisite dinner.
Done??? Not yet! Since it was Lyn's mum's birthday, the restaurant whipped up a special birthday cake - The Bomb of Alaska. The waiter lit the alcohol and 'bombed' the sides of the cake. A magnificent view, too bad the camera did not capture it.
The cake was simply chocolate ice cream on a crispy bottom topped with cream which is lightly burned on the outside. The texture and taste of the heated cream was exactly like marshmellow.
That truly marked the end of a 2 and a half hour, 12 course dinner. Most of the dishes were simple, prepared with innovative methods and clever use of sauces. Lovely food.
The damage....$100 nett per person