Executive Chef Kwan’s latest creation of Scallops, Eggplant topped with Flying Fish Roe and ‘Gold’ Ginger Leaves
After my first experience at Xin Cuisine for Imperial Pen Cai and Towering Gold Leaf Yu Sheng, I was very keen to make a return visit to try out the various dishes on the a la carte menu. And the experience is simply described in one word. Remarkable.
Roast Duck with Tea Leaves – A startling divine experience
From my previous visit, I knew I had to let my maternal grandma try out the dishes at Xin Cuisine. Be it because of the cozy ambience of the restaurant, to the skillful creations of Executive Chef Kwan Yiu Kan, it was a night to remember. The dinner was my post birthday celebration which my grandma was unable to partake in fully as she was just discharged from hospital so I had to take this opportunity now that she is better to a very good find located in the heart of the city.
Out of the night’s dinner, 4 out of 12 dishes have been custom made off the menu by Chef Kwan. My mum requested the restaurant if it was possible to let grandma enjoy dishes that were softer in texture for her to take in, and the restaurant was happy to accommodate to our request with some of Chef Kwan’s latest creations yet to be launched and his idea of dishes my grandma would enjoy.
We started off with the Marinated Jelly Fish ($8.00) which was served up simply yet sophisticatedly in a wrapping of rice paper stuffed together with julienned cucumber, pickles and red chillies. Delightful quaint, the dish served to appease both the rumbling tummies and the hungry eyes.
Next up was one of Chef Kwan’s latest creations. Scallops, Eggplant topped with Flying Fish Roe and ‘Gold’ Ginger Leaves, this was a plethora of flavours all in a sitting. It sits nicely into a spoon and that is how I believe it should be enjoyed by going through all the layers at once in a bite. The most striking flavour would be the coat of yellow sauce that gleams quietly beneath the flying fish roe.
Its savoury slightly creamy sweet tantalizing flavour brings out the natural sea tastes of the scallop in all its meaty juicy glory. The layered dish ends off with the soft eggplant that leaves an impression to finish the dish on a nice note. And my grandma enjoyed this dish through and through.
And as a hearty creation of a vegetable dish, Chef Kwan whipped out the Stir Fried Moneyleaf with Three Kinds of Egg ($14). A combination of the traditional egg, Century Egg and Salted Egg were used all at once. It sounds wonderfully decadent but the way it was prepared was surprisingly light tasting with all flavours exuding from the eggs and vegetables themselves. Sweet, with a bit of bite in every scoop, this serving can be nicely and easily shared amongst 5-6 people.
When mum made the reservations, she requested Ivy the assistant restaurant manager of Xin Cuisine, if it was possible to have a vegetable dish created from pumpkin as it was something my grandma has taken strongly to recently. Leaving it to Chef Kwan, he whipped out this serving in a steaming hot claypot as the next course.
Pumpkins braised with Glass Noodles, Mushrooms and Broccoli in Savoury Stock, this was very well received by all. My grandma even asked her helper if it was possible for her to recreate the experience at home to much laughter. The concept of braising the ingredient and layering them before presentation made the whole dish very presentable and a feast for the eyes. The golden hues of the pumpkin made this vegetable dish into a treasure pot brimming with goodness. Softly textured throughout, the smoky savoury flavours were evenly diffused through the vegetables without masking the natural sweetness of the pumpkin itself. The tang hoon which was used as a base absorbed in the thick stock to give a gelatinous impression and a tasty bite for each serving.
As a recommendation from Chef Kwan, he requested us to try out the Roast Duck with Tea Leaves (half for $26). Upon presentation, Ivy mentioned not to be deceived by the duck’s simple appearance even though I was already impressed with the gleam and shine from the crackling skin itself.
And when it comes to texture, this is probably one of the most tender roast duck I have ever had. The meat itself is rich in tea flavour leaving a mixed smoky aroma of naturalness that seemingly brings out the sweetness from the meat. The skin is also well cracked with a very decent layer of fat dividing the outer and inner layers. I will definitely come back here for the Roast Duck again as it is a well deserved two thumbs up for me.
For a taste of the sea in crunchy portions for mum, we had the Deep Fried Salted Egg Yolk Prawns ($28) Approximately about 12 pieces, each prawn was deep fried individually before being well coated in a creamed bright yellow salted egg yolk paste. Very tasty when eaten straight from the plate hot.
Grandma had a dish which was lighter and more refined for her. The Steamed Grouper Served in Shark’s Bone Stock was specially made by Chef Kwan for her. Fresh grouper fillet was used for this dish giving it a very pleasant sweet disposition on the whole. The stock itself was slightly rich in collagen and flavours that became well infused in the fish over time. And once the top is done, a bed of gently poached baby shanghai greens is revealed. Remarkable.
I was nicely enjoying my Salted Egg Yolk Prawns when the restaurant team brought in the Beggar’s Chicken ($60 Min 1 day advance order) presented in all its finery of a baked dough sculpture. Definitely a conversation starter!
To what I understood from Chef Kwan, a lot of work goes into crafting the Beggar’s Chicken itself. There is a complex process starting from the marination, to deep frying the chicken, later steaming it with herbs and lastly by wrapping it in the foil and covered with dough before baking.
The chinese name for the Beggar’s Chicken is 富贵鸡 which translated means rich and noble chicken. A little legend goes behind the dish and its name : A beggar once stole a chicken and before cooking it, the Emperor and his guards was said to be approaching. In guilt, he covered the chicken in mud and threw it into the cooking fire. But the Emperor was attracted by the aroma of the chicken slowly being cooked, and he sat down to dine with the beggar. Well impressed by the dish’s flavour, the Emperor ordered the dish to be served in the Imperial court leading to its name as 富贵鸡 or rich and noble chicken.
Within the dough, the chicken is wrapped in layers of lotus leaves. Keeping the flavours tightly in and allowing a juicy chicken with rich flavours from the herbs to remain.
While all of us had rice to go along, Grandma had a serving of Sliced Fish Porridge with Scallops created for her by Chef Kwan. Hearty and light tasting, with the grains being well broken down into bits.
To let my grandma specially try the egg tarts from Xin Cuisine, during reservation mum requested if it was possible to create a batch for desserts. Dim Sums are served only on Sundays but the restaurant took the occasion into account and let the kitchen do its magic. The results? Very crumbly sweet tasting egg tarts topped with a good serving of bird’s nest ($2.00 per piece)
I am now very interested to try out the Dim Sum served during their Sunday lunches. Mmmm.
And from my visit the last time round, I remembered the Fried Sesame Balls with Red Bean and Chocolate Liqueur Filling ($8 for 4 pieces). Deceptively plain looking, these are balls with a chocolaty rich liqueur feelin’ explosive taste.
I guess it would be tantamount to a federal crime if I did not have my Custard Bun with Salted Egg Yolk ($4.20 for 3 pieces). Rich, oozing salted egg yolk custard makes this hot dim sum another burst in the mouth treat. A delight for all the senses!
Grandma posing for a photo with Xin Cuisine Restaurant Manager Raymond
Me, my grandma and Executive Chef Kwan after the excellent meal
The dinner itself was a beautiful affair with the serving of dishes well orchestrated. The flavours and complexities in each creation from the kitchen is well apparent of the time, effort and heart that goes into making the impression last and the guests satisfied. And though it may be a Chinese restaurant with more focus on Cantonese cuisine, Chef Kwan goes beyond the traditional in revitalizing some of the more familiar ingredients into tantalizing treats for the senses. I had a very good time there, and will definitely be back again to try out their dim sum and Eight Treasurs Duck which itself requires a two day in advance order. A very delightful evening at Xin Cuisine Holiday Inn Atrium.
Many thanks to Manager Raymond, Assistant Manager Ivy, Executive Chef Kwan and Service staff Captain Lien Yoke Khuen for the excellent service through the course of the dinner.