I had been a tourist in Singapore countless times before moving here. The unbelievably cheap yet delicious chicken rice, char kway teow and laksa noodles at hawker centres would keep me satisfied time after time. These classic local dishes served in a super casual (borderline dirty) setting is really a key part of Singapore’s charm. But when it comes to local food outside of hawker centres – a proper restaurant where you can go to in better-than-flip-flops clothing – Xiao Ya Tou comes to mind first.
Its ‘pimped up’ dishes provides an interesting twist to the classic Singaporean cuisine, without losing local flavours and maintaining good execution. The cute artsy hipster setting also makes it an appropriate spot to catch up with a group of friends, or go for a casual date.
Small dishes to start with…
We ordered a couple of small dishes to start. I loved the Brussel Sprouts (SGD14) – not only because I’m partial to brussel sprouts in general, but also because it was cooked with generous dollops of minced chicken which made these veggies extremely flavourful. The Cock Wings (SGD13) were also perfect to share and nibble on as starters. They were flavoured with fish sauce and lemongrass – tasty, plump and satisfying. But the rest of the meal was definitely much more interesting…
Roast Duck with Truffle – SGD34 *must order*
The roast duck was one of the first dishes the waitress highly recommended. It was swimming in a bold sauce and pimped up with truffle and truffle oil, which was a surprisingly natural complement to the duck meat. It was definitely a refreshing take on an otherwise typical Chinese dish, and one of my favourites of the night. One portion is half a duck, so you’ll probably want to share this with at least 3-4!
Hokkien Mee – SGD16 *must order*
I’m usually not a huge fan of Hokkien Mee, and prefer drier fried noodles like Char Kway Teow. However, this was another dish the waitress was recommending with conviction. Thankfully, we were a group of 7, so we were able to sample both. The Hokkien Mee noodles were pleasantly saucy yet not too heavy. They were also generously loaded with seafood. The clams were juicy and the prawns were plump. There were also generous chunks of pancetta weaved in, which added the ‘fusion’ element and injected an extra layer of flavours to the dish.
Char Kway Teow – SGD15 *must order*
It’s hard to go wrong with a crowd pleaser like char kway teow. But apart from being a naturally popular dish, Xiao Ya Tou’s rendition of char kway teow was also generously loaded with ingredients like oysters, Chinese sausages, eggs and more. It was executed very well, with ‘wok hay’ or ‘fire’. No wonder so many of us labelled this as the favourite of the night.
Twice Cooked Angus Short Ribs – SGD36
The sesame butter sauce was an interesting pairing for these flavourful short ribs, but not necessarily necessary either. The inherent marbly texture of the short ribs were already doing most of the work. While most of us did enjoy this dish, I would try out the other meat options (like the roast duck) first.
Laid back, fun hipster spot for good local food
Overall, I loved Xiao Ya Tou for being a hipster-friendly, laid back and fun spot for some good local food. The little twists were interesting, but most importantly, execution of the dishes were on point.
For something with similar vibes, do also check out Provisions (SG): New Restaurant for Fun Skewers and ‘KFC’, located on Dempsey Hill.
Xiao Ya Tou
6 Duxton Hill,
Phone: +65 6226 1965
Spend per person: SGD40-50