I have lamented that Chinese restaurants are behind the times; few families could eat in groups of 8 or 10 these days, and Chinese restaurants should serve tapas-sized portions. Although Xin Divine at Duxton Hill doesn’t serve communal dishes, it serves food in individual portions, which allows small groups of friends and families to eat together. (Big groups also can lah.)
Cold amuse bouche: egg royale (Cantonese steamed egg custard with prawn head stock gelee, salmon roe, and handpicked crabmeat)
The kitchen of Xin Divine is helmed by three head chefs, Chef Peong Teck You, Chef Zhong Jian Bing, and Chef Alvin Tan, each bringing their own respective expertise in Cantonese, Szechuan, and French cuisines. A four-course set lunch starts from $38++ per pax and set dinners are at $98++ and $128++. A la carte menu is also available.
There is a private room which allows 18 people and has its own private access.
From Divine Bar on the first floor: Fantastic twice-fried Szechuan chicken karaage ($16)
In general, anything Szechuan here is superb. The Szechuan tortellini ($18, above) consists of two pieces of tortellini of minced kurobuta pork and chives in handmade gyoza skins, luxuriating in a broth of Szechuan chilli, ginger, and Zhejiang vinegar. Chilli oil foam on top. Excellent 红油抄手.
Cantonese is represented by their famous soups. Here, they boil the soups for six to eight hours. The shark bone soup ($28) can be drunk in two ways: with and without the Zhejiang Chinese wine (nu er hong). The soup comes with conpoy, abalone, and Chinese cabbage. Nice and sweet but it seems very little for $28.
The drunken chicken or poulet de bresse ($35) is done in a roulade style using foie gras and French chicken thigh in nu er hong. The roulade is first sous vide and then deep-fried in a tempura batter. It sits on a sweet corn puree which goes surprisingly well with the savoury components of the dish. On the whole, it is ok, but coming from the previous soup with nu er hong, I feel like there is a lack in variety.
Szechuan sour and spicy soup is poured over the nicely pan-fried Chilean seabass ($35) with soybean crumbs, deep-fried enoki, and Yu Xiang eggplant. It is nice but the ma-la 麻辣 (numbing spiciness) is repeated in this dish as in the Szechuan chicken and the Szechuan tortellini.
Chinese polenta ($8): Szechuan “porridge” with millet and grits in chicken stock and steamed pumpkin, with crab claw, huai shan (Chinese yam), and truffle foam
Many friends that night were fascinated with the dainty Osmanthus Sphere ($12). It’s a sphere of winter melon soup jelly with osmanthus, wolfberries, pang da hai, and gold flakes. It comes with a red date fizz, which you can drink on its own or pour it into the sphere. (Most people prefer them separately.) Visually, like my friends, I thought it is pretty, but I also thought it is gimmicky. I would really prefer a big bowl of good Chinese dessert.
Given the high prices, I don’t know if I would return, but, for sure, the food is delicious and the ambience is great.
10 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089594
tel: +65 3100 0030
M-F 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm, Sat 12pm-3pm, 5pm-11pm, closed Sun
You may be interested in…
–Taste Paradise, Ion Orchard: Popular Restaurant but Not As Good As Eight Years Ago
–Majestic Restaurant, Marina One: Excellent Contemporary Cantonese Restaurant with AMAZING Truffle Fried Rice and Durian Dessert
–Spring Court, Chinatown: Oldest Surviving Family-Run Restaurant in Singapore is 姜还是老的辣
–Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine, ION Orchard: How Did It Ever Win a Michelin Star?!
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.