This article first appeared on TheLifeFuel.com. This piece has been edited for tone and clarity.
This entry leads us to Duxton Hill, a quirky area populated with cafes and bars. Along the way, we passed by Tanjong Pagar Road, aptly named the “Little Korea of Singapore” due to the abundance of Korean restaurants and cafes such as Kko Kko Nara, Super Star K and Soju Bang.
Xiao Ya Tou (Mandarin: 小丫头, both used deprecatingly and as a term of endearment) is located just 10 minutes from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station. Sitting comfortably just further up the intersection between Duxton Hill and Duxton Road, Xiao Ya Tou is a manicured relic of the past.
Chinese lanterns and umbrellas, vintage furniture and memorabilia from our parents’ generation and beyond line the interior of this novelty cafe. It’s so intricate – the cafe almost looks like a set from a Channel 8 period drama (speaking of which, they haven’t made those in a while).
You would think that such a traditional-looking eatery would stand by decades-old menu items, unchanging in the face of mod-everything cuisine. It came as a surprise, then, when we discovered that Xiao Ya Tou actually serves Asian fusion brunch items!
We decided to start with the Unagi Eggs Benedict and the Kimchi and Eggs.
While waiting for our food, we were treated to a complimentary appetiser – a mantou and soup. We usually associate mantou with chilli crab gravy, but this was a unique pairing.
The soup was subtly sweet, similar to the taste of tau suan.
With cafes trying their hardest to outdo one another, the quintessential Eggs Benedict has gone through variations like Eggs Florentine (spinach) and Eggs Royale (salmon) but… unagi? The Unagi Eggs Benedict ($23) features slabs of unagi on top of a runny egg, nested above a fried bun served with strips of seaweed and a special sauce.
Xiao Ya Tou quells all those fears of tiny bones that are common in unagi by expertly removing all the fine cartilaginous bones. Also, a mantou took the place of the typical English muffin to infuse local flavours into this dish.
Following close behind was the Kimchi and Eggs ($23)! The dish had savoury kimchi on top of a egg omelette, served with mushroom ragout, crispy tofu, avocado salsa and a chicken cheese sausage.
The small size of the crispy tofu was a little disappointing, and our portion of scrambled eggs were served a little too well done. Nevertheless, the mushroom was well-cooked and the avocado really complemented the kimchi and eggs.
On to dessert, we decided against the Mantou French Toast Ice Cream Sandwich ($7) on account of the many pieces of mantou we’ve already had in one sitting, and went for the Ovaltine Trifle ($7) instead. A trifle is an English dessert that usually contains sponge fingers, but Xiao Ya Tou’s version had them replaced with Ovaltine Crunchy Cream and mini pretzels.
Mixing the Ovaltine cream with the milk pudding resulted in a delicate dance between the mild sweetness of the milk pudding and the malty taste of Ovaltine. The pretzel garnish also served as a welcome textural counterpoint to the smooth cream.
While dining at the cafe, we were treated to an unusual ambience and it was indeed refreshing to be tasting Modern Asian cuisine in such a setting. Xiao Ya Tou is indeed an unprecedented cafe, one that injects local flavours into traditional brunch items. Do note that brunch will only be served on weekends.
We also heard that the dinner menu was equally eye-catching with dishes such as the XYT Hokkien Mee and Red-Braised Pork Belly. We were truly impressed with the wide range of food items offered on the menu and we can’t wait to be back to try them all!
Address: 6 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089592
Hours: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Mon – Thurs) | 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. (Fri – Sat) | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sun)
Edited by Jovi Ho