Have you dined at home-grown restaurant chain Dian Xiao Er (店小二) before?
Ever wonder why their business is so good? During lunch and dinner times, there are always long queues.
I had the rare opportunity to sit through dinner with the founder of Dian Xiao Er, Samuel Yik and his wife, Eliza. Both of them are super nice folks with “no air” that people like to stereotype with Chinese towkays.
Samuel spoke with strong passion on how he started and operated Dian Xiao Er. He also shared some dining tips on their speciality dishes and enthusiastically explained to us the background of each dish.
I asked Samuel a lot of questions on his business operation. He answered everything candidly and was open to sharing just about everything (sans the recipes to his signature dishes of course). This is a hands-on boss who is on-the-ground and knows what he is doing, definitely not one shaking his legs in office.
Some people say the standards have declined in the past couple of years, but now that the founders are back in control (as of mid-2012), it is definitely worth visiting again.
Well, I am giving out 5 x S$50 Dian Xiao Er dining voucher to five lucky readers to try out the food at Dian Xiao Er!
To win the voucher, simply LIKE Dian Xiao Er on their Facebook page and leave a short message on the page stating why you like their food or would like to try their food. Print-screen the comment and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 14 Dec 2012. The best five entries will win the vouchers. To increase your chance of winning, if you are a blogger yourself and is willing to blog about your dining experience at Dian Xiao Er after winning the vouchers, please indicate this in your email.
Now, allow me to introduce to you, some of Dian Xiao Er’s signature dishes so you know what you can expect. 🙂
I am no stranger to Dian Xiao Er restaurants and am a fan of their signature Herbal Roast Duck since I first tried it at their Marina Square outlets a few years ago:
A lot of work goes into the preparation of the roast duck. Those who cook will know how tedious it is to prepare roast ducks.
The ducks at Dian Xiao Er are prepared daily for freshness. The ducks are marinated overnight to allow the herbal flavours to permeate each duck. A generous mixture of Chinese wine and herbs are sealed within the duck throughout the marinating process. The ducks are then roasted with the herbs and wine sealed inside their stomach. The roasting process releases the alcohol content of the wine while cooking with the herbs, resulting in the flavourful sauce that resides within the duck. This flavourful sauce is to be served with the portioned tender duck meat.
A lot of people has the mistaken notion that the herbal sauce is prepared separately and poured onto the duck, it is able to maintain the flavour, precisely because it is cooked INSIDE the duck.
Dian Xiao Er Herbal Roast Ducks are available in three flavours: Angelica Herb (当归), Ten Wonder Herbs (十全) and Wild Ginseng (泡参). Price for a small portion (approx. 2-3 pax servings) starts from $12.90++, a really reasonable price for a very tediously prepared dish.
Other favourites includes the following:
Dong Po Pork
This special cut of pork belly is well marinated with a concoction of spices and steamed till soft and tender. A flavourful dish with a “melt in your mouth” sensation. The skin is finished with some hot oil for better texture. Pork belly is sinful food, but I absolutely dig it.
Mongolian Spare Ribs
Another of Dian Xiao Er’s signature dish. The crispy ribs are coated in a layer of sauce with flavours of plum and black pepper, delivering a tangy, yet slightly hot taste.
Stir Fried Lotus Roots with Macadamia Nuts
This dish is one of the all-time favourite at Dian Xiao Er due to the unique blend of ingredients. The ingredients look very simple and the dish looks unassuming, but this is an area where Dian Xiao Er excels – delivering culinary delights through simple dishes. The Macadamia nuts crunch down well with the lotus roots.
Silver Cod Fish in Superior Soy Sauce
Deep fried Silver Cod served with a dash of Dian Xiao Er’s special soy sauce mix. I love cod fish, but it is difficult to cook because of it’s oily texture. I like how the cod is crispy on the outside, yet soft and smooth on the inside.
Claypot Frog & Jumbo Prawn Bee Hoon with Wine
Frog legs and jumbo prawns in a comforting stock spiked with Shaoxing wine and beehoon to soak up all the goodness. This is Dian Xiao Er’s own creation and I find the mix of frog legs with jumbo prawns rather intriguing as I do not recall these two items being cooked together in any other dishes in Singapore. The result is pretty amazing though. I slurped up every last drop of the flavourful soup.
Their full menu is accessible online, so you can take a look at in-depth descriptions, photos and prices.
There are many promotions going on at Dian Xiao Er for early birds (15% off), students and senior citizens (20% off). Visit Dian Xiao Er’s Facebook page for more information; better still, follow them on Facebook so you can get alerted on the latest promotions and deals.
If you are interested to visit Dian Xiao Er, they currently operates eight outlets in Singapore. You can visit any of them and be assured the quality is consistent. The boss, Samuel personally make surprise visits to all of them for tasting to ensure this:
1. Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard #02-203/4 | Tel: 6337 1928
2. Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk #02/137/8 | Tel: 6376 9786
3. Ang Mo Kio, 53 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 #B2-02 | Tel: 6484 2268
4. Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2 #03-26/27 | Tel: 67926268
5. Lot One, 21 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 #B1-32/33 | Tel: 6766 1776
6. Terminal 3, Changi Airport #03-42/43 | Tel: 6542 3789
7. Tampines One, 10 Tampines Central 1 #04-07/08 | Tel: 6783 6068
8. Nex Serangoon Central #02-09/10 | Tel: 6634 4828