Coterie Dinner at Xi Yan Singapore

collageXi Yan is a very famous "speakeasy" or private kitchen in Hong Kong. Was invited to a Coterie dinner at the Singapore "branch". The waiting list for Xi Yan in Singapore is 3 months.

It follows the same strict rules as the one in Hong Kong. Then again, it’s not your typical Chinese resturant. A la Carte does not happen here, alas.

One word to describe the dinner: Exquisite.

teapot2 placesetting_1

Also, a word about the Coterie de Dionysus. This is a group of very fun people dedicated to the appreciation of wine. It is a challenging dinner, but very educational as you leave with more knowledge of the different wines.

coldlobster coldlobster2

Appetizer was cold lobster served with 2 sauces. A mint sauce and a Thai Chilli vinegarette. I preferred the mint sauce as it heightened the taste of the cold lobster beautifully.


One of the nice things about the service at Xi Yan is that the staff would explain the dish, it’s ingredients and how it was cooked. Superior service that’s so hard to find no?


Another nice appetizer was the skinned Japanese tomatoes with mint leaves in a sauce that tasted like my favourite Japanese sesame oil vinegarette and thousand island. Very refreshing.

tofu tofu2

Another refreshing dish was the freshly made tofu in Soba sauce. The pork floss, fried shallots and salted egg yolk added a very yummy crunch to the light silky smooth tofu. The tofu is handmade everyday by the supplier. With no preservatives, it lasts for only 3 days.


The fermented beancurd fried oysters were amazing. Fried lightly, the fermented beancurd complimented the dark raw taste of the fresh oysters.


By now, you must be wondering if we would need supper after this 13-course dinner. Actually, if you look at what’s been served so far, it’s all protein. This means that we will fart a lot.

No. 😉 What it means is that you are full without feeling bloated. The bloat’s all released in the farts. Also, I’ve read on the Internet that it is a good thing.

Alright. Enough fart jokes. Sorry.


Anyway, more protein arrived in the form of Orange Beef. Immediately, you can taste the dried orange peel with the carrots and onions, sauteed in beef stock. And yes, I felt that the portions were a tad small for me because it’s that good.

salivatechick salivatechick2

Then came the apex of the meal. It’s an interestingly named dish called "Salivate Chicken". I don’t think they do it with spit (we were nice to the staff), but the taste of it will cause you to salivate for more.

At least that’s what it did to me.


Cold soba served with century eggs in a sesame paste (the kind you get at Hotpot resturants as a dip) and cold chicken. Surrounded in a soba sauce with Sichuan peppercorn powder, cilantros, fried peanuts and toasted sesames.

Dribble some chilli oil. Slurping sublimity.


After all that health food, some balance must be restored with deep fried crunchy bits.

We were not disappointed as the deep fried Groupa with prawn paste sauce was one of the best deep fried Groupa ever. This is one of the most difficult dish to control; a slight misstep in either way and you will either taste the fish or the prawn paste.


The Chef displayed excellent control of the ingredients for all the dishes. Each ingredient compliments the other without overpowering each other. Close your eyes and you can really separate the different ingredients.

Perfect balance.


Anyway, with the fish, the rest of the seafood began to arrive. I don’t eat prawns, but I did crunch on the fresh peppercorns to try out the sauce. It’s a Must-try.

crab_1 crab2

The Crab Roe Glutinous Rice was excellent. Even a non-Crab eater like me also went for this. Mix Glutinous Rice, Mud Crab, Hairy Crab roe, Yam, Waxed Meat, Dried Scallops, Preserved Radish, Dried Mushrooms, Chopped Spring Onions, Dried Shrimp, Minced Ginger, Aged Soy Sauce, Canto Rice Wine and White pepper into a bamboo basket covered with lotus leaves to retain the gravy. Face the crab shells downwards to trap the heat so that the condensation will force the "goodness" to drip back into the rice. Scoop in bowl, dribble some seafood vinegar and serve.

How complex can that be? ;P


What came next is not a common thing with Chinese dinners. A palate cleanser of Jambu, pears and apples served with a dried plum sauce.

I really hate the taste of preserved or dried plums. Even the proximity of it curls the hairs on my arms.

Sigh. It also means I am not meant to taste fine vintage wines. :/


No matter. The palate cleanser was to prepare us for the Ginseng Chicken soup. This is the traditional Chinese comfort food. The soup was clean-tasting, almost bland.

Again, the Chef’s skill in balancing the ingredients shines on this. After so many wines, I was revived by this soup.

What came next was a surprise. Sauteed Dou Miao with pickled cabbage. The dou miao had a slight burnt taste signifying the Chef’s skill with "wok hei". Again, the burnt taste was balanced by the slightly salty pickled cabbage.

domiao domiao1

Moist without being oily, crunchy and very refreshing.

Dessert arrived. It’s the traditional tang yuan in ginger broth. At first the fiery aged ginger broth put me off, but the moment I took a bite of the dumpling, all was well.

dumplings dumplings1

The combination of creamy butter, peanuts, sesame, brown sugar and egg yolk immediately tempered the ginger broth into a sweeter and smoother concoction.


To round of the meal, we were served the Xi Yan Cocktail. A combination of lime juice, whiskey, Tia Maria, Triple Sec and Honey. Wonderful!


It was a exquisite dinner for me.

This is the first Chinese dinner I’ve had in Singapore that displayed such a tight control of the ingredients such that everything balanced out and yet you can taste each ingredient individually.


The service was impeccable: Knowledgable, swift, discrete, friendly with lots of smiles.

Xi Yan Pte Ltd is at 38A Craig Road, Tel: 6220-3546, Dinner starts at 7.30pm. Closed on Mondays.

Posted on 21st Oct 2005 in Chinese, Coterie de Dionysus, Food and Drink, Fusion, Japanese


There Is Only 1 Comment So Far


[…] It all started out a month ago when an arrangement was made with Xi Yan to host the next Coterie dinner. This is because we had a pleasant experience the last time. Unfortunately, two days before the dinner, an urgent email was sent to everyone saying that Xi Yan now wanted to charge corkage unless we take their more expensive set dinner or the cheaper set dinner (with a reduced menu) and we buy a bottle from them. […]

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