Duxton Hill isn’t an area one would think to enjoy a fine dining meal at, given its reputation for bars and casual bistros.
At Xin Divine, however, you can not only treat yourself to the finer things in life, but the dishes boast a unique spin on Chinese cuisine as well.
Climb the stairs to the second level of the shophouse and you’ll find yourself in a dining area that only fits several tables, so your experience will be one of intimacy and comfort.
The menu is an eclectic medley of Chinese dishes — many originating from the Szechuan province — and classic European techniques. The results are recipes that have familiar flavours, but re-invigorated to give you novel gastronomy.
One of the starters that many will be able to resonate with is the Trio Of Dim Sum ($24) with Siew Mai With Scallop, Truffle BBQ Pork Pastry and Home-made Carrot Cake.
The pork pastry was very savoury and had an exceptionally crisp outer shell, making it a delightful appetiser.
But my personal favourite had to be the Siew Mai With Scallop, which had minced kurobuta pork, prawn paste and itty bits of ikura on top. The ikura gave a nice salty edge to the pork and the chewiness of the siew mai was very satisfying.
A classic Hot & Sour Soup ($14) is recommended should you feel like warming your belly, as it uses dried chilli for that amazingly spicy kick and incorporates flour and egg for thickening.
I especially favoured how earthy the soup was with its generous handfuls of wood ear mushrooms and could’ve easily gone for seconds.
Adapted from a common fish dish at many Chinese restaurants, the Fried Sea Bass With Chinese Cured Pancetta, Diced Shiitake And Edamame Hot Sauce ($32) is one to beat.
Flaky on the inside, the pancetta and edamame hot sauce rounded off the flavours with a salty-spicy finish that made this effortless to finish.
Chicken breast is easy to mess up, given how it can turn out dry at the hands of a novice. Here, the Half Spring Chicken Breast With Stir-fried Minced Pork, Carrot Creameux And Girolle Mushrooms ($38) was anything but.
The meat was fork-tender and the minced pork bits had a nice contrasting chew to the soft fleshy bird. What made this dish even more fulfilling was the luxurious texture of the complementary creameux.
The carb section of the meal is usually filled with pedestrian fried rice or noodles, but here, the Longevity Noodle With Seafood ($16) will make you re-think what makes a good noodle dish.
Littered with clams, prawns and pickled mustard greens, the broth was utterly umami and rich.
The noodles were cooked till bouncy and soaked up all the deep flavours of the broth, which made me wish a single portion came in twice the size. The seafood was really fresh and sweet, and there is honestly nothing negative I could possibly share about this dish.
When I saw that dessert was a simple Mini Glutinous Rice Ball With Black Sesame Filling ($12), I didn’t think much of it. Even a single glance at it didn’t inspire excitement in me, and that’s saying something, since I am totally a dessert person.
But one bite of it immediately made me change my mind. The warm gooey sesame middle was comforting and subtly sweet. There was a gratifying nutty aftertaste that made me want to gobble up the dessert, but the part of me that wanted to prolong the pleasure stopped me from wolfing it down.
The thing I always find about Asian food is that there is always an element of comfort, although I’m not sure if it’s an inherent trait or simply because it’s a cuisine that triggers familiarity and bias.
Although the food at Xin Divine is elevated and prepared using a different method, it certainly hasn’t lost any of its punchy and full-bodied flavours — and therein lies its timeless appeal.
Expected damage: $50 – $80 per pax
Xin Divine: 10 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089594 | Tel: +65 3100 0030 | Opening hours: (Mon to Fri) 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm, (Sat) 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm | Website | Facebook | Instagram