There has been so much hype about this private dining restaurant since it opened, we were glad to get a table. And in most ways, Xi Yan lived up to expectations.
It is located in a beautiful Chinese terrace house on Craig Road and marked by an inconspicuous doorway with no signboard, as is customary with private dining restaurants. Five tables make up the entire restaurant, and the menu is whatever the chef decides to prepare for the day.
An extensive wine list was placed on the table, but we were surprised to be told that only four labels were available. In spite of this hiccup, things improved significantly when the food started flowing.
Thirteen courses of consistently very good food were delivered one after another, after another, after another. First came steamed lobster, then a tomato dish, then an excellent tofu with pork floss and salted egg, then fried oysters; and by about the sixth dish we lost track. The dishes were characteristically simple but used unusual combinations of ingredients that worked amazingly well together.
Our favorites were the tofu; the chicken with soba noodles and century egg in chili oil; and a fried grouper with shrimp sauce, pomelo and water chestnuts. At about the eighth or ninth course, we started to struggle but still managed to make a good job of everything.
An arrangement that the restaurant did well, and which we must commend them for, was catering to a vegetarian in our party. Vegetarian versions of the dishes we had were prepared specially and served in synchrony with the non-vegetarian versions so everyone in our table felt included. This reflected the good service on the whole, with wait staff announcing each dish as it arrived and keeping our wine glasses filled.
We can see why the restaurant leans towards bigger groups: The sheer variety of food they serve doesn’t make it worth catering to parties of less than six. Dining here is definitely an experience worth having, and is great for a feast with a lot of friends. One dinner sitting Tue-Sat at 7:30pm.
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|Address:||Xi Yan, 38A Craig Rd., Singapore, 089676 Singapore|
|Open since:||August, 2005|
|Opening hours:||daily noon-3pm, 6:30-11pm|
|Nearest train||Outram Park|
|Reservation recommended: required, Parking available: at Craig Place, Takeaway available, Dress requirements: Smart Casual|
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