The Place I first tried Xi Yan Private Dining at Craig Road few years ago, and found the dishes to be quite unique in terms of flavours. It opened its first casual dining concept Xi Yan Shaw back in 2014, and it is long overdue for the group to finally open its second casual dining space Xi Yan Katong at I12 Katong in the east of Singapore.
The space of Xi Yan Katong at level two of the mall is pretty open concept, though one element which retained its character is the selection of contemporary paintings. The most private space of this outlet is at the end of the restaurant, made up of two big round tables with natural light where this section could potentially pass off as a semi-private dining space for bigger groups or celebratory occasions.
The Food In terms of menu, it is a widespread of dishes at Xi Yan Katong, similar to Xi Yan Shaw. There are 10 appetizers, 44 main dishes and 7 dessert of 5 homemade ice cream and its signature tang yuan. That said, some of the dishes at Katong are new signatures such as the Japanese tofu in century egg sauce, sakura ebi and pickled ginger, chips and lemon grass chicken wings; fried Yunnan ham niang tofu in special sauce; sea food white beehoon; and the big prawns rice noodles in special spicy broth.
I started with the Japanese Tofu in Century Egg Sauce, Sakuri Ebi and Pickled Ginger (S$10.80). The silky texture of the tofu here contrasts strongly with the rich and dark century egg sauce, while the sakura ebi adds some colour and crunch to the dish. It is quite a unique combination of ingredients.
You can’t go very wrong with the Basil Satay Sauce and Salted Yolk Prawns (S$17/small). The salted egg favour is rich and the prawns come in a good portion size as well.
I wanted to try this dish the moment I spotted it on the menu, the Chef King Prawns Rice Noodles in Special Spicy Broth (S$12/small). It is neither a local or Penang version of prawn noodles, so this version is really how the team at Xi Yan like their noodles to be. The broth is slightly spicy, but very good. Other than being cooked with the usual prawn shells and head, the broth is also added with Chinese wine, ‘Hua Diao Jiu’ to be specific. For the price, it is very good value as the portion is relatively big.
If you love pork ribs, go for the Okinawa Black Sugar & Zheng Jiang Vinegar Spare Ribs (S$13.80/small). The pork meat is quite tender and is coated with a distinctly black layer of the Japanese black sugar for its sweetness.
I also managed to try two Hakka inspired dishes, the Fried Hakka Ham Niang Tofu in Special Sauce (S$18/6 pcs) and the Hakka Abacus with Mushroom & Fried Shrimps & Minced Pork (S$14.50).
Both dishes are hard to come by in most Chinese restaurants in Singapore these days, and I count the Hakka abacus as a pretty good version. It is not too greasy, and the simple flavours of the abacus along with the accompanying mushroom and fried shrimp render the dish a comforting one.
Rants The overly open concept space doesn’t resonate well with me, though it is also a function of how the building and space is being managed by the landlord.
Will I Return Again? The dishes at Xi Yan are still very distinctive in flavours, while maintaining a fairly reasonable price point. I like that there is a modern twist to most dishes here, and it remains one of the few Chinese restaurants in Singapore where you can spot a myriad of influences on the menu from the likes of Hakka, Teochew, Sichuan and Cantonese. Xi Yan Katong should be a popular spot in Katong for many going forward, I believe.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Xi Yan Katong
112 East Coast Road, #02-06
Tel: +65 6244 3326
Daily 11am to 10:30pm
Ranted by The Ranter