The Place Opened since November 2017, Xin Divine (馨宴) is a contemporary Chinese cuisine restaurant located at Duxton Hill (right beside Xiao Ya Tou), which took over the space of the now defunct Buyan restaurant. Occupying a three-storey shophouse, the restaurant is on level two while level one is its sister concept, Divine Bar.
The space of Xin Divine sets the tone for fine dining – white tablecloths, arched windows and cushioned seats in the main dining area, along with a huge private room characterised by its beautiful dome-like ceiling and an adjacent wine cellar to showcase its diverse wine selections.
The Food Touted as progressive Chinese cuisine, there are three main chefs who helm the kitchen with each specialising in Szechuan, Cantonese and French cuisines respectively. You can expect dishes in with traditional Chinese flavours prepared with European culinary techniques. Order from the ala carte menu or the individual sets, which range from S$38++ per person for the four-course Executive Lunch Menu, to S$128++ for a seven-course dinner.
Before our meal started, we were served the Egg Royale (海鲜冷蒸蛋), a cold amuse-bouche of silky Cantonese steamed egg custard. There is a top layer of gelée made from prawn head stock, salmon roe, and crabmeat.
We started with the Szechuan Style Tortellini (S$18 – 四川红油抄手), which is not quite like the usual we had before. Minced kurobuta Pork is wrapped in handmade wanton skins to resemble the Italian pasta, along with a broth of Szechuan chilli, ginger and Zhejiang vinegar. Topped with chilli foam, this is the most classy Szechuan dumpling I have eaten, and a very luxe version for sure. The spiciness is just right, though I find the skin a tad too thick.
The next dish I had was the Chinese Wine (Nu Er Hong) Shark Bone Soup (S$28 – 女兒紅鯊魚骨湯), prepared for over six hours. The texture of the collagen rich soup is luscious, with premium ingredients such as abalone. The Nu Er Hong is served separately in a glass, but once it is added to the rich soup, it changes the flavour profile which elevates it further for me. I enjoyed this soup.
For mains, there is a small selection of fish and meat. The Poulet de Bresse (S$35 – 法国童子鸡) is a dish which leans more towards the French cuisine. The drunken French chicken thigh here is served in roulade fashion after being drunken in Nu Er Hong, along with small portions of foie gras within. There is a slightly crisp texture of the roulade as it is thinly coated with tempura batter before being deep-fried. Other elements on the plate include sweet corn and Nu Er Hong puree, popped rice, chanterelle mushrooms and black fungus. Despite the myriad of elements here, this dish does not resonate with me.
In comparison to the chicken, I enjoyed the Chilean Seabass (S$32 – 智利鱸魚) more as the flavours are more distinct for me in this dish. The pan-seared seabass is served with soybean crumbs, deep-fried enoki and and “Yu Xiang eggplant”; an iconic Szechuan dish consisting of eggplant and shredded pork tossed with garlicky pickled red pepper sauce. This is not all, as I poured the accompanying sour and spicy soup over the fish to complete the flavours. The texture of the seabass is just right, along with crunchy bits of the enoki and soybean crumbs which add more layers to the dish. As for the presentation of this dish, it is truly fine dining fashion.
We also managed to try some bar snacks from Divine Bar. The Szechuan Chicken Karaage (S$16 – 四川辣子鸡) with cashew nuts and sesame seeds is delicious and arguably addictive but not for the faint hearted. The spiciness kicks in after about 30 seconds, and you will be reaching out for water if your threshold is not high. Suffice to say, this is not something Rantee will return for.
Alternatively, go for the XO Carrot Cake (S$12 – XO 醬炒蘿蔔糕), which is battered and fried in three types of flour. It has that nice crispy texture, garnished with shrimp, sesame seeds, scrambled egg and homemade XO sauce formulated with parma ham and conpoy. The crisp texture made this carrot cake rather delightful.
For desserts, the Osmanthus Sphere (S$12 – 桂花清汤) is more like an art piece to admire rather than a dish to consume. The glass-like dessert is prepared via spherification, and once popped, will release a liquid filling of chilled winter melon and rock sugar soup. It sounds like a fancy science experiment here. Other herbal ingredients within are sprigs of osmanthus, wolfberries, and pang da hai (malva nut). This is also accompanied by a shot of red date juice, which you can either enjoy it on its own, or as a mixture with the osmanthus sphere. We prefer the former.
Rants The setting of the main dining space at Xin Divine makes it less ideal for a boisterous big group gathering, though you have the option of booking the private room for your party size.
Will I Return Again? The prices of the dishes at Xin Divine are relatively steep due to its exquisite presentation and more refined cooking techniques. It might be more idea to impress your date or business partners, but less so for a casual dinner affair with friends.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
10 Duxton Hill
Tel: +65 3100 0030
Monday to Saturday: 12pm to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10pm
Closed on Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter