Monday, July 4, 2011

Good Eats in CBD: Xiao Bar Wang

Taiwan...another food haven...but one I have yet to travel to and sample its delights. In all the years of corporate travel, I only had Taiwan as part of my portfolio once, but that was all too brief, and before I went to visit, it was amalgated under Greater China, and split off from my charge of Asia Pacific. I must make a trip there one day...

But I have tried Taiwanese cuisine here in Singapore...mainly porridge, and perhaps the snacks...most famous of them being the crispy XL deep fried chicken.

An of Xiao Bar Wang invited me to a tasting of their new branch in the CBD...right at the former OUB Centre...occupying where The Standing Sushi Bar once was. I passed by during lunch last week (before the invited tasting), and the place is packed!

An explained the cuisine tries to bring the street food from Taiwan. One of the owners is Mediacorp's Jeff Wang, who hails from Taiwan, and wanted to share the culinary delights with us. So off I went...

We started with cold noodles...



Interesting, methot...cold noodles...reminds me of soba. But the noodles looked like regular local yellow noodles and tasted mildly of kee. The toppings are shreded carrot, and chicken. The sauces - meant to trigger the 4 main tastes; sour, sweet, bitter, spicy. The brown mustardy sauce on the left, is made with Century Egg with other added secret ingredients to make its texture mustardy, this is savoury with a hint of bitterness. The dark one on the right is yuzu+soya sauce, that is to bring out the sweet and sour tastes. Lastly, chilli oil (this is afterall Singapore, so centerstage for chilli!) for the spiciness. All ingredients and sauced are prepared on location...the taste? The cold noodles were a bit unusual, as we don't really have local cold noodles...but rather tasty. With the 3 sauces mixed in, the noodles have a tangy, creamy coating. Reminded me a bit of the breakfast beehoon/mee Singaporeans like to have...but chilled. Refreshing.

I also sampled their famous mee suah..



Mee suah, cooked in a thick, savoury soup. Apparently this is very popular in Taiwan.



Very nice indeed. The soup is made from pork and pork bones, probably for a long time, and was thick, and clings, smothers the strands of light, mee suah. The meat balls which accompany were very similar to home made...reminds me of the meat balls in bakwan kepiting...and reminiscent of the mee suah my mom used to make when we were young...though mom's concoction had clear soup.

I also tried the popular braised pork rice:



Again, the home cooked feel! Tasty without being spectacular...rather, dependable, home cooked. The pork, which was fairly lean, was thinly sliced and nicely braised, and sits on top the piping hot rice, with half a hard boiled egg and some stir fried vegetables. Good choice for quick lunch for office workers.

But the piece de resistance is the XL Crispy Chicken:



They were not kidding about the XL...the above is half a portion. The full portion is shown below...two slices, each the palm of a large man's hand in one serving:



The chicken is coated with a crispy, spicy, salty, aromatic crust...more like herbal crust than batter. Interestingly, though deep fried, I did not see, feel that it was greasy at all...indeed, if you look at the inside of the paper used to serve the chicken, it is hardly stained by oil. Only the chicken breast is used...flattened...encrusted, and deep fried. The taste is very good. The chicken is moist, and tender inside. The herb crust, wonderfully fragrant and crispy. Probably the best I have eaten. Shiok.

Before I left, I had the opportunity to meet with the chef Serena Wang, she helms the kitchens at all their 3 outlets...who happened to be on the stall that morning...here she is with An on the right:



Chef told me she makes everything on premises as they don't have a central kitchen. And they try to be as authentic as possible.



The restaurant is more like a fast food joint than a restaurant, but just the kind for the office folks in Raffles Place...in for a quick bite, out just as quick.

Great, home cooked style Taiwanese food in the middle of the CBD.


Xiao Bar Wang
#B1-02B , One Raffles Place
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