Gimme a little sugar at Xi Yan Sweets 囍宴甜‧艺, Wan Chai

Having made up an excuse for another dinner out, it was time to pay another visit to one of my fave restaurants in the Star Street area, the Chinese-fusiony Xi Yan Sweets, which features lots of Shanghainese dishes.  This place is good if you want your meal to be split 50-50…

…that is, savoury and sweet. 😛  And that’s what we did, going relatively light with one savoury and one sweet dish per person (three of us).  I think it worked.

As background, this place started off as a private kitchen also in Wan Chai, and has now branched out to Singapore.  They’re also in Taikoo Shing, and the tiny cramped Xi Yan Flavours at Elements closed down a few months ago.

Going around 7:30pm on a weeknight it’s relatively painless to get seated, so no need to book!

The entrance is near the PP3 MTR. 

Art thou hungry?  Some artworks liven up the simple colour scheme.  I think the one in the right is meant to be Jacky Yu, the owner of the Xi Yan chain who used to be a graphic designer, and it shows – both in the decor and the focus on food presentation.  As he says in the interview I just linked to: “Food is more than about the taste. You need to look at the whole combination, like which plate goes with which dish, and how to build the dish so it looks prettier. These are all important.”  It’s true that it affects your perception of the taste!

秘製鎮江骨 Zhenjiang spareribs ($92).  Always one of my favs, whether here or in the former Elements branch, as they’re generous with the tender, juicy meat and the great sweetish, vinegary sauce.  Great with a bowl of rice.

One of the signature dishes at Xi Yan, the 招牌擔擔拉麵 dan dan noodles ($58), which you can have dry or in soup.  We ordered not spicy (不辣) cause we’re weak.

香酥糯米鴨 Crispy stuffed duck with glutinous rice ($88).  Not  what I imagined it’d look like – I kept thinking of something similar I had on the Peak, which was a chicken wing stuffed with glutinous rice for some reason.   It was a unique dish, but didn’t leave the strongest of impressions  and was a bit hard to the bite, which matters even more when it gets cold.

OK, time for dessert!  Literally half the menu is taken up by the sweet stuff.

My choice from their extensive list of unique ice creams – 蘋果香酥伴牛奶雪糕 apple crisp with milk ice cream ($48).  You’d think that milk flavoured ice cream is kind of redundant as ice cream is already made with dairy, but I assure you this is a great, smooth flavour.  Goes well with the apple crisp, which is sort of like the insides of a mini apple crumble.

Also try the 桂花酒釀荔枝雪糕 lychee ice cream in osmanthus wine that packs a punch!

The 金莎朱古力雪糕 “Rocker chocolate” ice cream ($42).  By Rocker they meant Ferrero Rocher, which they might just have made the sauce from (the ice cream itself is a normal choc flavour).  “Wah…gum sah!”

The Chinese desserts are equally good here.  This was the 私房手搓黃金湯圓 custard glutinous dumplings with sweet potato ginger soup ($34), and is the first recommended dish (with the restaurant logo) in the Xi Yan creative dessert series (囍宴創意甜品).  Personally I like custard buns (流沙包) and ginger already, so I’d say this was a good combo!  The other tong yuen are good too.

We also had two drinks, which are a pretty good deal at buy-one-get-one-free, and they’re usually nice and refreshing.

怡神香茅茶 Iced lemongrass tea ($32).

清熱杭菊薑蜜 Hot honey ginger chrysanthemum ($36 but free being the second drink).

Final bill was $450 for three, or $150 each.  Reasonable for a casual dinner in the Star Street area; then again we ate moderately and didn’t order any rice or veg.  Still, worthwhile if you pick a good main, dessert and drink, and can enjoy a nice relaxing chat – low table turnover means you don’t feel pressure to leave, as can be common in HK.

They also have attractively packaged take-home versions of their sauces, noodles and desserts for you to enjoy if you live in the neighbourhood.  Smart way of ensuring their taste lives on!

The space is sort of condensed so it’s relatively easy to grab a waiter if you need one, although they’re always busy.  The staff were generally helpful.

Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM NOM (out of five)

Address: 灣仔永豐街8號 Shop 1, G/F, 8 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai

Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-midnight

Tel: 2833 6299

Web: official, Openrice 中文, Openrice English, review from the food blog “faim? oui oui!!!!!!”

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