Some time ago, the family and I went to Xian De Lai at Nex to try their steamboat as my dad had been wanting to try it ever since it opened at JEM. My friend said it was quite expensive and not worth the money so when deal.com.sg had Xian De Lai deals, I bought them at $18.90 each per pax.
comfortable seats and neat layout
Their service was extremely slow. When we reached the place, there was only 1 table occupied and when our soup came, the ingredients that we ordered took a long time to come even though by the time, there were only few tables occupied and we were the 2nd group of customers to arrive. I really wonder how they can cope if they are having a full house.
unique pots resembling that of the olden days
The 4 soup bases that we had were secret recipe duck soup (supposedly brewed for 6 hours), chicken pork ribs soup, tom yam soup and bak kut teh soup.
I felt that the taste of the bak kut teh soup was too overwhelming for a hotpot meal. Somehow, it didn't feel quite right eating hotpot with bak kut teh soup base.
The duck soup was the worst of the lot. It was very salty and adding in ingredients only made the soup saltier. There was some duck meat in it though and they were very tender and has absorbed the flavour of the duck soup, making it more delicious.
The best soup base was the chicken pork ribs soup. It was very light and tasted rather bland so when the ingredients were being cooked in it, it became more flavourful and was just right.
The tom yam soup faired better than the duck soup and bak kut teh soup, with the right mixture of sour and spicy flavours. It also became salty after we were halfway through our meal.
The mom could tell that the soup was mostly flavoured with m.s.g as her body did not react well to food with lots of m.s.g.
Their ingredients were very fresh though. Everything looked pleasant and there was nothing to complain about the taste except for the assorted pastes which tasted horrible.
Because only 4 pieces of crab parts were served to us at the first round, we ordered 6 portions of crabs the next time but to our disappointment, they only gave 3 pieces to us (there were 4 of us). Furthermore, the food came very slow. It gave us the impression that they were trying to save and scrimp on the food's portions. The staff even told us to jot down the amount of portions we want and they would be served to us.
One thing good about Xian De Lai is that if you are very particular about hygiene, having a personal hot pot on your own is ideal. However, it is also quite boring to eat like that since hotpot is a communal style of eating.
Their side dishes were better than expected and we had a second serving to ourselves for some of the dishes. They were all more skewed towards the salty side though. Not all of our orders came and we had to order it again. The spicy nuggets in particular, did not come at all despite us ordering at least 4 times and reminding the staffs about it.
The century egg tofu was decent however the braised beancurd was extremely salty.
The friend (in all seriousness) remarked that it was no wonder they are called 鲜(咸)得来 (xian 咸 means salty). Lol!
In total, we paid $91.35 for the meal for 4 people as service charge and GST (they sure know how to make the most out of it) were not included in the coupons. Personally, I do not find it worthwhile to make a visit if you are paying the full price. If there are deals online, it is still worth a try.
Xian De Lai
23 Serangoon Central, #B1-05/06