Brought to you by the folks behind Symmetry at Bugis, Xiao Ya Tou is a modern Asian diner situated in the enclaves of Duxton Hill. Xiao Ya Tou seeks to set themselves apart by serving “naughty Asian cuisine”. From items such as “Cock Wings” and “Unagi Eggs Benedict”, their eclectic menu offerings provide a refreshing take on fusion Asian cuisine, deviating away from the mainstream items seen at other fusion cuisine diners.
We arrived for dinner and after perusing the menu for a good twenty minutes, we ordered some favourites and new items recommended by the manager for the both of us to indulge in.
XYT Dumplings ($14) || Minced pork, shredded ginger, black vinegar, chilli oil
This was the first dish that arrived at our table. I am not usually keen on having my food doused with vinegar (is sushi counted?) but the vinegar used here is black vinegar, different from white vinegar. Black vinegar is deeply colored and tastes fruity, with a touch of umami richness. The dumpling skin was sufficiently thick, not too thick such that it is chewy but yet not too thin such that it breaks easily. The minced pork was rather fragrant with a bite to it. This dish is a good appetizer to start the meal, albeit slightly pricey.
Pork Knuckle Fritters ($18) || Cucumber som tam, sriracha kewpie mayo, fresh herbs
This dish, to say the least, did not look as welcoming as it sounded on the menu. We expected actual pork knuckles, perhaps fried since there was a mention of ‘fritters’. What we got looked like normal fried potato balls. I could not really decipher the meaning and essence of putting pork knuckle meat into a ball and frying it. Perhaps I have not been exposed to this style of making pork knuckles. Nevertheless, the star of the dish was surprisingly the Sriracha kewpie mayo. The mayo was evocative of kewpie in terms of both flavor and consistency. It possessed a depth with spicy undertones which was boosted by the Sriracha (a type of hot sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt).
Much to say the least, I enjoyed the sauce more than the actual supposed star of the dish.
XYT Lu Ru Fan ($13) || Braised Wagyu beef on rice, with poached egg, shredded seaweed, pickles and scallion
Next up, is one of XYT’s mainstay items: the Lu Rou Fan (or braised meat on rice). Unlike other braised meat rice where the meat used is pork, XYT’s rendition of the rice bowl makes wagyu beef the star of the dish. I absolutely love how fragrant the Jasmine Thai rice used is, completely absorbing the umami taste of the beef doused in the sauce. The braised wagyu beef, though chopped to smithereens, was tender and fragrant. The whole taste of the dish manages to avoid being one-dimensional, with the inclusion of the poached egg, which added depth with its runny luscious yolk.
The seaweed, pickles and scallions are necessary additions to the dish by adding another dimension to this umami packed rice bowl. I will highly recommend ordering this humble bowl of goodness whether you are a first timer or a regular here.
Drunken Flower Clams ($23) || with young ginger, garlic, sake, wolfberry & Shaoxing wine
First of all, I have to say that as a person who loves seafood but not a fan of ‘lala’, or clams, this dish took me by surprise. What struck me when I saw this in the menu is the Shaoxing wine. I love the addition of Chinese wine in my food as it gives the dish that extra kick which elevates the taste of the dish.
The portion of the flower clams was good and great for sharing among a big group. Clams were fresh and did not contain any trace of fishiness at all. The soup (or broth) on the other hand was amazing. The taste of the clams was fully accentuated with the Shaoxing wine and every bite exuded the aroma of the wine. I even commented that “I can drink the whole soup”.
Twice-cooked Angus short ribs ($36) || with smashed cucumber and sesame butter
What is Angus beef? Is it a particular cut of beef? Not true. Instead Angus beef is the meat from Angus cattle, “the most popular beef breed of cattle in the U.S” (wiki). Angus beef develops with better marbling than most cattle, which brings us to this dish right here. We were presented with a simple plating of sliced beef, with a side of cucumbers placed above creamy sesame butter. The dish looks simple but proves otherwise.
The short ribs right here has great marbling. Marbling refers to the amount of intramuscular fat the cow has. Marbling improves flavour, tenderness and keeps meat moist while cooking. I like that the meat is tender and possessed a slight char flavour, while not being gamey at all. Texture is added to the dish with the smashed cucumbers, which were delightfully crunchy, pairing well with the sesame butter which was creamy with a tinge of nuttiness. This umami-packed dish is complete.
Overall, I will definitely recommend Xiao Ya Tou to anyone who wants to taste authentic, fun , creative and even “naughty” modern Asian fusion cuisine. What really appeals and stands out to me is the creativity and execution that each of the dish we tasted here possessed. Xiao Ya Tou also doubles as a bar so do grab some grub to go along with the food and perhaps end the night with a dessert?
Lastly, don’t forget to reserve your tables via Chope!
Also, you can purchase vouchers for Xiao Ya Tou via Chope right here and enjoy 10% off!
Xiao Ya Tou
Address: 6 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089592
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday – 10.30am to 11pm, Friday – 10.30am to 12am, Saturday – 10am to 12am & Sunday – 10am to 5pm