I am not really a big fan of brunch since most of what is on offer often revolves around a few permutations, preferring to go to the Hawker Centre for my Char Bee Hoon or any local artisan bakery for my weekly croissant. But if I were to have brunch, ideally, then either the main dishes must be interesting or there are decent desserts to match if not a good coffee. It was my first time brunch at Xiao Ya Tou since I only had dinner and drinks on my previous trips. Although I had a great experience, I was a bit apprehensive about their new brunch menu.
I kicked off with my daily fix of coffee. The Iced Latte ($6.50) was on point, fresh, fragrant and fatty. The beans used here are roasted and blended at their sister cafe Symmetry so rest assure the quality of the coffee here and the due credit which goes to their barista.
Seated next to the semi open kitchen, I could smell what was simmering. The Seafood Mee Sua ($19) would evoke a sense of familiarity with a gentle seafood dashi broth, made sprightly with gingered Shao Xing wine. Brown clams, prawns, tofu cubes, spring onions and succulent Shiitakes complete the dish.
I was told the Unagi Benedict ($16) is a 2.0 version- an improvised version that was a reduction in size from its predecessor and toned down it’s heavy sauce, replaced by a refreshing petit shrimp and tobiko caviar salad. The mushroom duxelles, yuzukosho Hollandaise and that (Egg) formed a pretty harmony. I have yet to tried 1.0 so a comparison cannot be made. Regardless this was an enjoyable treat.
Almost every other table had an order of the Chee Cheong Fun ($16). I can see why. Sous-vide 54 hours, the beef Dong Po meat slices felt like slabs of butter, accented with caramelised Soya tendons waiting to melt on your tongue.
Both the Chee Cheong Fun rolls and Hoisin sauce were also handmade onsite from scratch. Some might quipped the portion to be a little tiny, but for the quality you are getting I don’t think anyone should cherry pick.
The Twice-Cooked Spiced Duck Confit ($19) is essentially a modern rendition of the Bak Chor Mee. I left the duck to my dining partner and went straight for the egg noodles. It was al-dente, pretty good on its own with any kind of oil. The minced duck meat while a little distracting with its canard game did add some interesting element to the dish. I must acknowledge minced duck is rather tough to work with, so kudos to that. The pickled green chilli retains the dish’s unique local flavours.
Both the desserts available are pretty similar. Both use coconut cream and also comes with a scoop of honey ice cream. So I suggest you can do either with one. The Black Rice Porridge ($8) was not bad but I was more delighted with The Coconut Tau Hway ($6). This dessert bowl comes with tapioca pearls and cookie crumble placed on top of the coconut panna cotta. The East-West combination sounded odd, but it worked!
Post dinner drinks were not shabby either, and that is what differentiates XYT from the rest. I preferred something non alcoholic, so we were recommended the Chrysanthemum & Wolfberry ($10) and Longan & Red Dates ($10) to share. Both were excellently brewed. I haven’t had a good Chrysanthemum tea for a while even with my recent visits to all these Cantonese restaurants. This one was balanced, with sweet notes well represented by the flora, the honey and the wolfberries.
The latter was comparable. It was filled generously with white fungus, dried dates and dried mini longans. As a modern interpretation with some tweaks and replacement of ingredients, it hit all the right spots even my fussy Ah Mah would have approved.
I remember I also had an amazing roasted Pu-Er shot in a previous visit which tasted similar to Houjicha except the Pu-Er had a more robust body from the oxidisation process.
For one final challenge, I had a cup of Matcha Latte ($6.50) pulled. Thick Thick Tsujiri style. Unsweeted. Tea Magic. It was perfect.
Xiao Ya Tou seems like an unlikely location for the tea lover. But you cannot beat their coffee and food either.
You can now reserve your table at Xiao Ya Tou via Chope.
The above article is written by @ramenking2017. You can find him on instagram where he shares his love for food and travel.