Each time we pass by a Dian Xiao Er restaurant, we would do a double take. Unlike your typical Chinese restaurants that tend to go for a classy or modern look these days, the decor here is decked out like a traditional Chinese inn. Even the staff are dressed in costumes from that era!
Whether it is the brick walls, the square-shaped wooden tables and chairs, or the rows of ancient Chinese wine that fill the shelves, the quaint decor makes you feel as though you are in a period drama. To match the rustic ambience, the cooking certainly does not disappoint either.
The main specialty of this mid-priced restaurant chain is the herbal roast duck. You can choose from 3 types of herbs – Angelica herbs (Dang Gui), Ten Wonder herbs or wild ginseng.
The Ten Wonder herbs are basically a combination of ten herbs that include Codonopsis root, Chinese Foxglove root and licorice root. The herbs are supposed to promote longevity and soothe the mind. Feeling stressed? You know what to eat!
Apart from the obvious health benefits of the herbs, the duck meat is tender, juicy and soaked in the most delicious sweet sauce. Even for someone that prefers chicken over duck any day, this dish remains deeply enjoyable. Bonus: The thin crispy skin!
As you can see, the braised shark’s fin broth is chock full of ingredients. Tinged with the sweetness of crab meat shreds, this easily trumps any shark’s fin soup at Chinese wedding banquets!
You would notice that many of the dishes on the menu are denoted with little red logos. These represent the Singapore Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Dining Program, which means that the dishes are cooked with less oil, salt and sugar.
One dish that I favour less is the lotus root with macadamia nut, but mostly because I am not a huge fan of the greens. The crunchy nuts are very much welcome though!
To fill the stomach, share a pot of the stewed Ee-Fu noodle. This is tossed with dried scallop and Golden mushroom. Cooked with sufficient flavour, it is one of the better renditions that we have had.
The garoupa slices with carrot sauce is rather average and unmemorable.
Love the braised mushroom, sea cucumber and abalone. The mushrooms are simply satisfying, oozing out delicious juices as you bite into each one.
Dessert lovers should leave room for the chilled Hashima. This isn’t one for the squeamish though, as Hashima is made from – gulp! – the dried fallopian tubes of true frogs! Still, when it is made into a dessert like this, you kinda forget that the jelly-like substance actually comes from a frog. Served cold in a sweet soup with ginseng and red dates, this is light and refreshing.
Here are the aforementioned ancient Chinese wine. Does anyone else just wanna drink heartily?
What is your favourite Chinese restaurant? Share with us in the comments!
1. Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard #02-203/4 | Tel: +65 6337 1928
2. VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk #02/137/8 | Tel: +65 6376 9786
3. Ang Mo Kio, 53 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 #B2-02 | Tel: +65 6484 2268
4. Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2 #03-26/27 | Tel: +65 67926268
5. Lot One, 21 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 #B1-32/33 | Tel: +65 6766 1776
6. Terminal 3, Changi Airport #03-42/43 | Tel: +65 6542 3789
7. Tampines One, 10 Tampines Central 1 #04-07/08 | Tel: +65 6783 6068
8. Nex Serangoon Central #02-09/10 | Tel: +65 6634 4828