Located at the Oasis Boulevard, Xia Mian Guan may be a tricky place to find. Hidden in a narrow corridor tunneling outside the mall, this Shanghainese restaurant looks inviting despite its smallish entrance.
From dividers that separate the tables in more private locations, you can see that Xia Mian Guan celebrates its love for its signature Shanghainese noodles even in its art and décor. Already, that is a hint of what is the must-haves in this restaurant and we’ve got it.
As we reclined to the comfortable ambience in Xia Mian Guan, we decided to go for a lavish meal as we simply could not decide what we should have. Let’s think of how to work the carbs off for later. As for now…
…we dug into this appetizer. As rookies to Shanghainese dishes, we weren’t so used to the combination of this dish and the fact that it was served cold as we were caught by surprise when we bit into the soft winter melon with its accompanying saltish garlic and dry scallop dressing. We have to say though it is an interesting experience.
Applaud! Xia Mian Guan excelled in its fishes. This fish is fresh and fried just nice to our taste. It is crispy and although chefs can’t go wrong with sweet and sour flavours, this restaurant has definitely set a higher bar to this dish – not only was the fish excellent to taste, the ingredients – the prawns were generous in size and the meat and sauce were in harmony.
Surprise! This fish tasted cold at first but in actual fact, it is served hot before being dribbled by cold sauce, thus, bringing down the temperature of the fish. This is, according to the chef, authentic Shanghainese style. Never mind us who are not used to slightly colder fish. The fish is brilliant anyhow – crispy, living to its name and for those of you who prefers the dish to be on a more saltish side, this would be an excellent choice. This fish is simple in its preparation but yet rich in taste and flavours. Another well done masterpiece by Xia Mian Guan.
Hmmmm… this one is not a dish for all. For those of you who aren’t used to the rough texture of innards, you may want to skip this one but for those of you who are a fan, this is a nice touch to your meal. The kidney is soft, tender and flavourful.
Each of these kai lans are carefully selected and only good quality ones are served on the platter, as you can see in the photo above. This dish is cooked just right and the mushrooms are juicy. Although the plate was dry, the sauce has already been absorbed in the veggies. Nice.
This… is… spicy! Don’t say we didn’t warn you. We thought the the dish is a bit too oily for our taste. Each bean curd is meticulously cut in bite size and we like how smooth the bean curd is, we like the kick the spicy sze chuan sauce gave… but not the oil. Well, they say, we can’t have the best of both worlds after all.
Once again, this dish may not be to everyone’s taste but even for those who only take jelly fish when attending a social dinner, you might want to give this a try. Jelly fish is cold, but soft, ermm… jelly-like, a taste to remember. Texture is nice, not too chewy. This dish is more on a slightly saltish side too but… although we ourselves are not fans of jelly fish, we probably won’t take it in big quantities therefore, but… hmm… this dish is interesting and nice.
Finally, we are going for the noodles. The aroma of the noodles is mouth-watering already. We could not wait to get our hands on them. We went for the stronger tasting noodles first – the Braised Beef Noodles Soup. The noodles are springy, perfect combination with the soup. The braised beef is soft and tender. Eat them together and voila… feel your eyes brighten with delight as you go wow.
We probably should have tried this bowl of noodles first because it has a lighter taste to it but it doesn’t matter. The noodles are just as fine and springy as the previous bowl. This is our favourite among the noodles we tried because we can taste the authenticity of the noodles and as it was served in clear soup, it highlighted the prominent texture of the noodles which have thus, won its reputation of being Xia Mian Guan’s signature dish. This explains why this bowl of noodles is combined with a simple plate of pork cubes. This is simplicity at its best.
We had another bowl of noodles, just as nice, with slightly more flavours than the Soup Noodles with Pork Cubes. Shrimps are generous in size, juicy and combined with the saltish shredded pork, the whole dish is sliding towards the more saltish side, the Shanghainese style. Some who like the noodles to be salty would like this one.
Ohhhhhh… this is our favourite as well… but this will only be a favourite too for those who love eggs. These duck eggs (yep, duck eggs) are cooked to perfection, so yes, again, it is also quite salty. We like how the softness of the liquidy yolk runs over the egg white and when we take a bite, the taste of these perfect eggs explode in our mouth. Take small bites though, you don’t want to choke. Eggs can be quite big for those with small mouths.
This duck is slightly cold to taste and saltish. Nice tender meat and crispy skin. *burp* By now, you must be wondering how we can fit so much food in our little tummies, eh?
For the next dish, we took the ball apart with our fork and spoon to have a taste of this mysterious ball and were delighted to really taste the crab meat in the ball more prominently than the accompanying taste of the meat. The chef did a good job on this one too.
This dish is cold as well, buried in sauce and spices. Crispy, yes, spicy sourish taste, yes. It comes with anything that is spelt Sze Chuan. Meat tender and absorbed the Sze Chuan flavours. Nice.
The simmering of Braised Pork Cubes and its accompanying ingredients in this pot has brought out the flavours of this dish. This is the more common and traditional dish that can be found in many other restaurants and even cooked at home. The difference between this dish and those prepared elsewhere is the quality and size of the ingredients to reflect its more premium side and the overall taste is more concentrated, meaning, it is also towards the more saltish side to emboss the Shanghainese style to this dish.
The chickens here are fried to perfection and just the right amount of heat inside and outside the chicken, crispy, golden brown and juicy. The chickens are pre-marinated, thus, with a single bite, you can taste its juiciness and how the flavours have already been absorbed in its meat. Well done, indeed.
Overall, the food is moving towards a more saltish side but we are satisfied and quite contented with the overall quality of food presented here. We preferred the simple dishes here such as the Sup Noodles with Pork Cubes in Chilli Oil and the Crispy Bloated Fish. The food is slightly more premium judging from the presentation of food and also the choice of ingredients used. This will be a good spot for corporate lunches or dinners, celebrating a special occasion with a big group of friends or even a casual meal out for foodies or for those who just want to have a good meal with loved one, family or/ and friends.
Xia Mian Guan, OB.K6
Contact: 03-5621 0040