Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Dian Xiao Er: More than roast duck

On my recent trip to Singapore, I was astonished to find that Jurong Point shopping centre had expanded to twice its previous size with the addition of another wing. The additional space meant many more shops, and also many, MANY more restaurants and food outlets, ranging from foodcourt and cafes to food stalls, eateries and restaurants. Captivated by the very vibrant and interesting interior decor, we had a family meal at one of the new restaurants - Dian Xiao Er (店小二).

The themed decor of the restaurant recreates a rustic and old-style environment, with plenty of wood, ceramics and traditional decoration.
Dian Xiao Er

I loved the bright and colourful murals on the walls.

We have yet to see or hear anybody sounding the gong, although it must have been tempting.

A little hut contained part of the kitchen for chopping and serving their signature herbal roast duck.
The duck house

And all this beautiful decor and layout was just at the front entrance to the restaurant. Talk about enticing potential customers. We were definitely intrigued and after a glance at the menu, decided to go in and have a look and taste for ourselves.

Beautiful lanterns lit the way up a wooden ramp.
Lanterns light the way

The restaurant extended much further back than it seemed from the front. We were seated towards the back where the tables were bigger. The layout is similar to most restaurants, although the themed decor continues with more murals, exposed brick walls, bamboo partitions and lanterns.
Inner hall

Birthday celebration

But enough of the 'look' of the restaurant, let's move on to the food! We ordered a soup to start, a mixed seafood thick soup (海鲜羹), which was served very professionally.
Served up

It was one of the chunkiest seafood soup I've had in restaurants. Many places just bulk up their soups by thickening the stock with cornflour. This one was full of chicken, fish and other seafood pieces. Very satisfying.
Seafood soup 海鲜羹

There were various types of roast ducks made with different Chinese herbs. We opted for crispy duck with Dang Shen (党参). The skin was very crispy and tasty, and the flesh was tender and full of flavour, touched with Chinese medicinal herbs. This was very good.
Crispy duck with Dang Shen (党参)

House special Xiao Er tofu (小二豆腐). We ordered this without knowing what it was and it turned out quite nicely. They were pieces of tofu that had been mashed up with fish paste and shredded vegetables, reformed and cut into shape, friend and then served with a sauce.
House special Xiao Er tofu (小二豆腐)

Spinach with gold and silver eggs (菠菜金银蛋). Essentially spinach cooked in stock, with chunks of salted eggs and century eggs. The salted egg yolk gave much flavour to the stock and I love century egg. I will have to cook this dish myself at home (one more way to use up century eggs), it does not look difficult. I will be sure to post the recipe when I do. What AP and I really loved were the whole cloves of fried garlic in the dish!
Spinach (菠菜金银蛋)

Stirfried greens with crispy cuttlefish, with celery, sugar snap peas, carrots and gingko nuts. It was a simple stirfry but very nicely done. The fried cuttlefish scattered on top gave an interesting depth of flavour. I think it would work well with fried ikan bilis (anchovies) too.
Stirfried greens with crispy cuttlefish

Towards the front of the restaurant, the decor was more 'informal', imitating roadside food stalls that were prevalent on the streets of Singapore decades ago.
Not-so-mobile stalls

Old style dining


There were different card promotions for different days of the week. I paid with my UOB credit card that evening and received a 10 per cent discount. Our bill, including service charge, GST and card discount came to around SGD$95 (US$62/£44). Fairly economical for a good meal at a nice restaurant. I think we should have ordered one more dish since there were five of us (we did have plain rice), but we were nicely full, not overstuffed. The quality of food was good, the decor was outstanding. Portions were not big but certainly adequate. The food was not too oil or too salty. Their roast duck was very good indeed. I would definitely check out this restaurant, either at Jurong Point or at a location near you. The website below lists the various outlets available.

Dian Xiao Er
Jurong Point #03-26/27
Tel: (65)6792 6268
Website: http://www.dianxiaoer.net/


VeggieGirl said...

Such lovely decor!!

danny kwok said...

No long queue on that day? Jurong point is always so packed...

Nilmandra said...

Veggiegirl: Indeed, we were attracted to go in by the decor, so that marketing ploy worked!

Danny: I think it's not bad on a weekday, in terms of queueing for restaurants. But yeah, Jurong Point is always packed on weekday evenings and especially weekends, even if it is now twice the size!

Mrs Ergül said...

This restaurant has been sprouting up in many malls, even Lot 1 the mall closet to where I live. I wonder if you're still in Singapore, though chances are you're already back in Vancouver. If you are, I will love to meet you up!

Nilmandra said...

Mrs Ergul: Yes, I'm back in Vancouver now. It would have been nice to meet up, sorry I didn't think of it then :-/

Heather said...

The Xiao Er tofu is what I always want when I go out to Chinese joints in town, and now I know what to ask for. That is, if they have it.

These are excellent photos, NIlmandra.

noobcook said...

I've always heard abt Dian Xiao Er but haven't visited it b4 ... how 'suaku' I am for a Singaporean huh hehe The food looks great, I think this is just the nudge I needed to go try the place. Lovely photos.

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