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Dian Xiao Er is one of our favourite Chinese restaurants when it comes to casual dining. Like the olden days, Dian Xiao Er (which literally translates to servers at inns or taverns) symbolizes a pit-stop for travellers to rest and replenish their energy before setting off to continue hectic journeys. In the modern context, I guess we all need to take a pit-stop to load up on calories before jetting off on a hectic journey of shopping!When we first arrived at Dian Xiao Er, we were warmly greeted
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Dian Xiao Er is one of our favourite Chinese restaurants when it comes to casual dining. Like the olden days, Dian Xiao Er (which literally translates to servers at inns or taverns) symbolizes a pit-stop for travellers to rest and replenish their energy before setting off to continue hectic journeys. In the modern context, I guess we all need to take a pit-stop to load up on calories before jetting off on a hectic journey of shopping!

When we first arrived at Dian Xiao Er, we were warmly greeted by the receptionist with smiles. It warmed our hearts immediately and the vibe we received was friendly and homely. Sometimes, I feel that it is that extra effort taken by the staffs which made all the difference to a meal, be it a simple sincere greeting or a hearty smile.

Apart from the customer service which touched us, can the food at Dian Xiao Er impress us?
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The interior decorations received mixed feedback as my dining companion found it to be oriented towards a Chinese wedding theme while I actually basked in the environment as I found myself returning to the olden days. (well not that I would know how it is like but I am sure most people out there, myself inclusive, had watched enough Chinese movies and series to recognize such a backdrop)

Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng - 风生水起(三文鱼鱼生)- starting from S$22.80/++ for small portion
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Like most Yu Shengs served at Chinese restaurants during the Lunar New Year season, the server would recite and bless the diners at the table with a series of good wishes, such as prosperity and good health.

Admittedly, the Yu Sheng was not a dish that impressed. On a fairer note, it tasted pedestrian but adjusted to the liking of most Singaporeans whereby it uses sweet plum sauce as the main condiment over the sliced radish and array of other accompaniment sides.
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What made this "Lo Hei" unique and heart-warming was the auntie in the picture. She might not have given the best recital speech when it came to serving the Yu Sheng but the smiles and blessing coming from an affectionate mother-like figure was simply priceless.

Fish Maw Soup with Crab Meat & Conpoy - 四喜临门 (蟹肉干贝花胶鱼鳔羹)- starting from S$16.90/++ without crabmeat
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If you are a fan of viscous soups, this would certainly draw you in. Expect a generous serving of fish maw and shredded crab meat in each bowl of goodness. The crab meat has been specially added to the soup only for the Chinese New Year menu. Personally, I found it to be quite heavy on our palate as it was flavourful and every spoonful seemed to be filled with plenty of ingredients.

Herbal Roast Duck (药材烤鸭)- S$12.90 onwards
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This dish needs no introduction as people familiar with Dian Xiao Er would be well acquainted with the flavours and taste. The skin was thin and crisp with just a fine layer of fat underneath to add to that juiciness. The tender duck meat was beautifully complemented by the crispness and ogling at the dish was sufficient to make us salivate. We were privileged enough to have a tasting of all three sauces; angelica herb (当归), ten wonder (十全) and wild ginseng (泡参).

The angelica herb (当归) bore a slight tinge of sweetness while ten wonder (十全) is the preferred safe choice for many and is what Dian Xiao Er is famous for. It would surely appeal to those with a more savoury appetite. Conversely, the wild ginseng (泡参) would suit those with an inclination for a stronger herbal taste and opting for this sauce would come at a slight premium, in terms of pricing.

Silver Cod Fish in Superior Soy Sauce - 年年有余 (豉油皇银鳕鱼)- S$25.90/++
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This was my favourite dish for the entire meal with the presentation scoring points as soon as it was served to the table. The delicate cod fish was well-handled, being sliced uniformly and deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown colour. We loved the complementing textures with a nice friable and crumbly coating on the outside matched by a tender and soft fresh cod fish on the inside. For those who desire an extra crunch and do not mind the calories, you would relish in delight (a sinful one) as you munch through that crispy skin attached to the white protein.

The clever use of superior soy sauce subtly enhanced the flavours and allowed the natural freshness of the cod to be delivered across to the diners' palate.

Savoury Pork Roll "Firecrackers" - 鸿运当头(爆竹升升)- only available as part of CNY set menu
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I found this to be an ingenious new dish on the menu. Aesthetically presented to resemble firecrackers, the thinly sliced pork wrapping sausage and Chinese coriander was carefully rolled and deep-fried before being coated with the classic sweet and sour sauce. While I appreciated the work involved in creating this dish, I was left slightly disappointed after the first bite as it gave a "hollowed-out" effect whereby the inside of the pork-roll felt "empty". I would have preferred it more if the filling was denser with added texture.

We were asked for our feedback as the chefs behind the scenes look to improve this new dish recently introduced to the menu. I liked that the chefs were receptive to diners' feedback and moving forward, I felt that constantly changing and adapting to the customers preference is key to success within the competitive F&B scene.

Overall, it was a good dish but requires some improvement to make it a more palatable dish.

Luxurious Seafood in Claypot - 富贵荣华(江南一品锅) - only available as part of CNY set menu
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Like what the name suggested, it was a luxurious bowl of delicacies such as sea cucumber, Chinese mushroom, fish maw coupled with some greens like sweet peas and carrots. Expect a pot of savouriness though it is another dish which weighs on tastes and flavours.

Osmanthus Jelly Dessert - 桂花糕 (S$3.60/++)
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This was one of the better Osmanthus Jelly Desserts tried with a subtle sweetness that pleased our palate. It was a very light dessert that helped to balance out the savoury dishes tried.

Dishes are generally served very quickly (even when we visit on a normal occasion, i.e. not tasting session) For those new to their dishes, the mains tend to be on the savoury side and incline towards heavier flavours and tastes (重口味). It would however be suitable to enjoy the dishes with white rice.

My takeaway from visiting Dian Xiao Er over the past years had always been consistent, that warm and friendly feeling which resonates a homely meal. Customer service have always been meticulous and surely lives up to the restaurant's name of Dian Xiao Er!

P.S: The Chinese New Year set is only available from 18 January 2014 onwards till 14 February 2014. Prices of the set menu range from S$108 for 3 pax to S$598 for 10 pax.
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(The above review is the personal opinion of a user which does not represent OpenRice's point of view.)
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DETAILED RATING
Taste
Decor
Service
Hygiene
Value
Spending Per Head
$30 (Dinner)
Recommended Dishes
  • Herbal Roasted Duck
  • Silver Cod Fish in Superior Soy Sauce