Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Xi Yan Private Kitchen (Hong Kong)

Featured as one of the best private kitchens in Hong Kong by, Xi Yan is a private kitchen that blends traditional Chinese cuisine with pan-Asian flavours. As described by cnngo, "Xi Yan is one of the first and arguably most reknowned private kitchens, Xi Yan has managed to keep its quality consistent through the years. It's Pan-Asian fusion dishes such as tea-smoked eggs topped with sea urchin, steamed glutinous rice with crab and Shanghai crab roe or lychee ice cream with osmanthus wine, are the creation of Jacky Yu, who is now one of Hong Kong's celebrity chefs with his own cooking show."

Lucky for me, a long time friend of my Dad's, Andrew, lives in Hong Kong and is a major foodie. He literally knows all the good places for food and is a regular at all the top private kitchens in Hong Kong. Needless to say, one of the first things I did when I landed in Hong Kong was to give Uncle Andrew a call :) I felt extremely lucky when Andrew took the time to take me out to Xi Yan for dinner.

I got to meet Chef Jacky Yu that night (woot! Same last name as me hehe). Uncle Andrew even got him to sign his cookbook for me ^_^

Private kitchens first started  in Hong Kong when amateur chefs decided they could give restaurants a run for their money by offering good food in the intimate settings of their own homes in the 1990s. Now, a decade later, many private kitchens have grown up become fully-licensed restaurants. But some things haven't changed; they are low-profile eating places, often in nondescript apartment blocks (and sometimes even in residential quarters) with no signage. Reservations, often a week or two in advance, are a must (no walk-ins). Menus are set. 

Our menu that night was tailored for the two of us. 

Andrew brought wine. Perfect. I looooove Gewurztraminer =D


Crispy Taro Paste with Diced Abalone

Osmanthus Smoked Duck's Egg with Marinated Termite Mushroom

Tossed Cordyceps Flowers with Spring Onion Oil


Braised Pork Belly

Note: The pork belly was sliced into one continuous long strip and assembled into a tower. The server "unraveled" it for us.

Satay Shrimps with Salted Egg Yolks and Basil

Soaked Guavas with Dried Sour Plums

Sichuan Spicy Chicken

Stewed Chicken with Ginseng

Stir Fried Spinach with Fresh Chinese Yam


Custard Glutinous Dumplings with Sweet Potato Ginger Soup

The winner that night for me was definitely the Braised Pork Belly (the presentation itself was mind-blowing) followed by the Sichuan Spicy Chicken and the Crispy Taro Paste with Diced Abalone. But wow, what an experience as I've never had such delicate and unique Cantonese dishes presented this way before!

Thank you sooooo much, Uncle Andrew! I'm definitely calling you up again the next time I'm in Hong Kong =D