December 24, 2011

X is for ...

...Xmas eve lunch @ Xi Yan.

Xi Yan is one of those places I've been meaning to try since they opened but never got down to checking them off my list, till today. I think they've been around for at least 6-7 years, first heard about them back in SingTel where one of the directors was always raving about them.

It's a private dining restaurant at Craig Road so reservations are a must, as they need advance notice to prepare your selected menu. I made the reservation only a couple of days in ahead and was given the week's menu to pre-select my mains.

I knew it being a Saturday, the place wouldn't be crowded but I didn't anticipate being the only diners! I think they cater to the business lunch and dinner crowd mainly so weekends are not profitable.

But that meant that service was attentive and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. There was a personalised menu awaiting us at the table, that was a nice touch plus the waiter would explain the dish and ingredients each time he brought a course out.

We kick-started with cherry tomatoes soaked in organic apple cider vinegar. The tomatoes were juicy and sweet but slightly tart with the cider, and they did a good job of whetting our appetites along with the sugarcane jelly accompanying the dish.

Next up was an angel hair tofu and mushroom soup. The silken tofu was hand-cut into fine shreds, they were thinner than mee-sua! The base was chicken stock and the soup was the perfect starter for a cold and rainy was pouring outside while we were snug and warm inside listening to Chinese jazz and Christmas-y tunes.

Stir-fried prawns with salted egg yolk was next, am a sucker for anything coated with salted egg yolk and the prawns didn't disappoint. They were crunchy and buttery and I licked every last drop of gravy. The prawns were served together with a black truffle and Chinese ham fried rice. The truffle taste was subtle but evident, Nick thought it was good fried rice.

Last main was an oolong tea smoked chicken with mango salsa. Another fine dish with the subtle flavours of the imparted oolong, coffee and rock sugar and I think lychee that the chicken was smoked with. The skin was crispy and the meat tender, couldn't ask for more.

For dessert, the waiter brought out a whole lychee ice cream log cake. For a moment I thought they were serving us the whole thing, but it was just for presentation and photography's sake, he noticed I had been snapping pictures and brought the whole cake out for me to take a picture before he cut us some slices. How thoughtful.

The meringue cream around the lychee ice cream was too sweet for me, so I only ate the ice cream bits but Nick ate most of his.

Overall, it was thoroughly satisfying meal, at $48++ per person, I think it was worth it based on the exclusivity and service, and the food was good too. Finally a place that Nick actually enjoyed and approved of, will regularly check their website for updated menus and go again when I see dishes I want to try!

After lunch, we popped by Alexandra car showrooms for a bit, taking a peep at Volkswagen and Peugeot. COE prices are really high but the boy is in the mood for a change, was this close to buying a Volvo S60 earlier in the week but the COE exceeded his maximum budget by a little bit and the deal fell through. But change is imminent, I will miss Pierre!

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