Chinese restaurant Xi Yan 囍宴 has handsome new digs at Maxwell Chambers Suites that harbours a small bar serving up Chinese bar bites, an array of wines and creative cocktails.
When Xi Yan 囍宴 – one of the pioneers in Singapore’s private dining space that specialises in modern Chinese cuisine – closed its original space along Craig Road earlier this year after 13 years, many lamented its loss. Thankfully its founders soon found a home nearby at the newly opened Maxwell Chambers Suites to carry on offering its unique take on dishes commonly found in the cuisines of the Chinese diaspora across Asia.
Xi Yan’s new space may be as cramped as its old shophouse one due to its elongated shape, but is tastefully done up in contemporary chinoiserie that’s not garish like some restaurants that may be too eager to show off their Chinese roots, and instead allows its food to show off its heritage. You can expect many of Xi Yan’s iconic dishes from its private dining days – developed by co-owner and Hong Kong celebrity chef Jacky Yu – here, some of which have received top billing from critics over the years.
But what’s particularly interesting for us is Xi Yan’s new bar space tucked in the corner of one side of the restaurant. Here’s where you get access to its bar food menu, where you can expect many of Xi Yan’s favourites reinvented into bar bites or smaller servings that are perfect for grazing.
You don’t find many places where you can get a proper Chinese style XO Radish Cake ($15++) or XO Lao Shi Fun ($14++) – complete with wok-hei – while enjoying a glass of wine or a cocktail. The Grilled Honeyed Pork Collar with Thai Sauce ($15++) is a must-order too if you like juicy slices of pork washed down with a good Chardonnay or even a Pinot Noir.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, the Stewed Beef Shin with Preserved Tangerine Peel ($15++) is meltingly-tender, and you’d be inclined to mop up as much of its rich yet tangy sauce as you can. Then there’s its signature Hakka Yunnan Ham Niang Do Fu ($18++), a comfortingly familiar dish that will conjure up memories of home and hearth.
Xi Yan’s wine menu of over 70 wines is perhaps one of the largest you’ll find in any Chinese restaurant; swinging from affordable plonk such as Allegrini Soave 2015 ($58++ per bottle) and Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne 2016 ($60++ per bottle) to the credit-stressing Château Palmer Margaux 2008 ($700++ per bottle), plus almost everything in between.
There is no method to Xi Yan’s wine madness. “The founders of Xi Yan, we all love wine,” admits co-founder Thomas Choong. “Each wine is on the menu because we love to drink it,” he laughs.
There are cocktails too, and some really creative baijiu-based ones at that. There’s the Lang 1898 Tang Yuan ($22++), which reimagines the Chinese dessert into a cocktail, and the fruit-forward Northern Wind ($22++), both made with Lang Jiu (郎酒) baijiu. If you’re not a fan of baijiu cocktails, Xi Yan’s bartender is happy to make you most classics.
Now there are painfully few places in town that happily combine great Chinese cuisine, cocktails and wine in bite-sized form; the new Xi Yan at Maxwell is now one of those.
Xi Yan 囍宴 (Maxwell)
Address #01-15/17 Maxwell Chambers Suites, 28 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069120 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 10.30pm daily