9 Bishan Place #B1-07 Junction 8, Singapore 579837
Tel: 6684 0877
This is a media invite attended by the representatives of OpenRice Singapore, our hosts Joanne and her male colleague from Dian Xiao Er , as well as some of us bloggers / reviewers. We got to sample their
Chinese New Year specials this evening.
Boosting a very rustic, classic Chinese restaurant decor, Dian Xiao Er is famous for its authentic Chinese dishes. I have eaten there some years back with The Beau, and could not remember most of the food except for their very nice herbal duck - which thankfully was included in tonight's tasting menu as well.
So... we started with the Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng, a mandatory Chinese New Year dish - complete with salmon (raw in most cases, but here they use smoked salmon), crackers, slivers of carrot, veg, melon etc as well as oil, fresh lime juice and plum sauce. Each item has its own positive meaning, and eating them means blessings for the New Year ahead, such as fish meaning "nian nian you yu" (abundance every year) and crackers representing "money bags".
How one eats this dish is to slowly mix all the different ingredients together first. With each ingredient that one adds on, there is a well-wishing phrase to accompany it.
Then we would all toss it together, raising our chopsticks-clad-yusheng as high as we could (this practice is known as "lohei"). Hence, watch us get messy - with every toss and raise of the chopsticks we would shout out a blessing each.
Finally, we managed to place the well-tossed yusheng onto our plates - the fish was fresh, of course, and the crackers were very crispy. The vegetable strands were crunchy and sweet in their freshness as well.
Next, we had Shark's Fin Broth with Crabmeat and Conpoy - the broth was tasty and the shark's fin was cooked to a soft deliciousness. Conpoy (dried scallops) added a soft hint of fragrance to the broth; the broth was light and not starchy. I only needed to add a very light touch of vinegar and pepper for enhancement.
Now, comes the Signature Herbal Roast Duck. For tasting purpose, we tried 3 flavors of the sauce. The roast duck itself is stuffed with herbs when being roasted, to give it a lovely aroma; in this case the one we tried was infused with Ten Wonders Herbs. The skin was crispy and the meat was tender and juicy.
The sauces we had were (from left to right) - Ten Wonder Herbs, Angelica Herbs and Wild Ginseng, in order of lightest flavor to the strongest flavor. My personal flavor was Angelica Herb, because the Ten Wonder was too light for me, and I found the Wild Ginseng too sweet for my liking.
Following that, we had Sauteed Baby Lobsters with Pumpkin Sauce - note that this a spicy dish. The sauce comprises of chilli, salted egg, pumpkin and curry leaves, so one can imagine the wondrous burst of flavors, a connoisseur upon the tongue. The flesh was prepared in such a way that it came off easily, without being difficult to eat at all; and it was succulent.
Then we tried the Prosperous Pork Trotter - a wonderful dish if one doesnt mind eating the skin of the trotter, because that was the best part of it - soft, trembly, delicious, flanking tender flesh within. The brocooli was cooked soft and infused with the lovely sauce of the dish, enhanced by the piquant taste of dried oysters. The French beans had a strong raw-greens taste though.
Moving on, we were served the Hongkong Style Chinese Pomfret (known in Chinese as "Dou Cang", which no one knew the English term for; and is diferent from, and of better grade than the usual black or white pomfret, we were told). It was a huge fish, and served piping hot with flesh so freshly brittle, it disintegrated in the mouth along with the lovely ginger sauce it was served with.
Next, we had the Luxurious Abalone Treasure Pot - usually served in a claypot, but for our sampling / photography, it is spread out on a large plate for visual effects. Comprising of nothing but goodness all the way, this luxurious dish gave us all the goodness of abalones, fish maw, sea cucumber, mushrooms and some vegetables to balance. The tiny abalones were succulent and easy to chew; infused richly with flavor of its gravy; the shiitake mushrooms, likewise. The sea cucumber straddled the line between firmness and wobbly textures - I liked it that way, though some of the other reviewers preferred it to be a softer texture; the fish maw was sponge soft and scrumptious in its natural saccharine-savoury flavor.
Finally, to end off a lovely meal, we were served cold desserts of Double Boiled Hashima. The soup was deliciously sweet and I believe it is boiled with rock sugar. The Hashima pieces were slimy but smooth, sliding down the throat soothingly - the perfect conclusion to a rich meal.
For Dian Xiao Er's Chinese New Year Specials for 2015, please visit:
http://www.dianxiaoer.com.sg/our-menu/cny-menu-2015. There is early bird discount for take-away specials if one books before 1st February 2015.
Thank you Dian Xiao Er, especially Joanne and colleague for being wonderful hosts; and of course, a huge thanks to OpenRice SG for the invite!