29 Nov 2018
Customers are greeted with a caricature of Wendy at the entrance of the restaurant
Taiwanese cuisine has been a mainstay in Singapore’s food paradise. While many restaurants serve traditional Taiwanese cuisine with a modern twist, Xiang Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Since 1916 focuses on reviving old Taiwanese favourites such as Braised Minced Pork Rice and Mee Sua.
The restaurant, located at Bedok Point, attracts locals and a fair share of Taiwanese customers from all parts of Singapore. They come to savour the authentic dishes prepared using recipes passed down from over a 100 years ago.
We sat down with Wendy Hsu, owner and founder of Xiang Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Since 1916, to find out more about what sets it apart from other Taiwanese restaurants in Singapore!
1. Tell us more about Xiang Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Since 1916
My husband and I opened Xiang Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Since 1916 at Bedok Point in July 2018. This is our first foray into the F&B business. Prior to this, we were living in China for seven and a half years before returning to Singapore last year.
The restaurant was named after my Chinese nickname, “Xiang Xiang”, because we felt that it has a ring to it and would help with customers’ recall.
Our recipes are over 100 years old and have been handed down through the generations. They came from my late father’s best friend who ran a restaurant for three generations. My father loved the food at the restaurant. Unfortunately, the fourth-generation owners decided to not continue the business.
The interior of the casual restaurant, detailing how the recipe was passed down
We were neighbours with the third-generation owners of the restaurant. With a stroke of luck, or some may say coincidence, they were looking to pass down the family legacy and my husband was interested in cooking and learning the trade. The family decided to share with us their recipes on the condition that we would continue to serve these dishes somewhere.
When we returned to Singapore last year, we decided to open a restaurant to share the authentic taste of Taiwanese food as we know it, and to help preserve the family’s recipe!
2. What makes Xiang Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Since 1916 different from other Taiwanese restaurants?
All our dishes are made from scratch. This includes the preparation of even the most basic ingredients such as fried shallots. We also don’t use food additives such as MSG as they were not used in the original recipes. We pour our heart and soul into every dish and you can be sure that our dishes are prepared with the freshest ingredients.
Before we add any new dish to our menu, we are grateful to have our neighbours, local celebrity couple Darren Lim and Evelyn Tan, to test our dishes and provide their feedback. They even held their son’s birthday party at our restaurant!
3. What is your most popular dish on the menu?
The Braised Minced Pork Rice recipe was passed down three generations
Our most popular dish is the Braised Minced Pork Rice made with fresh pork and homemade shallot oil. To attest to the quality ingredients, we are proud to share that we use the same type of rice found at the Michelin Star restaurant, Din Tai Fung.
Xiang Xiang’s version of the iconic Taiwanese street food, the Mee Sua
Another sought after dish is our Crispy Chicken Strip Mee Sua. This dish is commonly prepared with oysters but we found that it is difficult to get fresh oysters in Singapore. Instead, we decided to swap oysters with our specially marinated chicken for this dish.
4. Who are your regular customers?
Since our opening, we have seen many regular customers patronising our store – some even coming all the way from Woodlands. In the first few months of our operations, we had two Taiwanese girls who came to visit after their friend’s recommendation. They found our food to be authentic and have helped to spread the word to their Taiwanese friends.
We’ve also had a Taiwanese customer sharing his dining experience on Facebook. He mentioned in a post that this was the first time he has had a Taiwanese meal in Singapore that tasted so much like home. Another customer teared after eating our Braised Minced Pork Rice and said that he has been looking for an authentic version of this dish for over 10 years.
We’re extremely heartened by such feedback from our customers. Bringing joy to them through our cooking is what motivates us to maintain our high standards!
5. How do you reach out to your customers?
As former radio DJ, I love talking! I always try to strike a conversation with my customers to make them feel comfortable and get their feedback. I want my restaurant to feel like home for everyone who comes to visit.
We use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to market ourselves, but ultimately, I feel that we have received a strong following via word of mouth.
6. Are there any expansion plans in the near future?
We are still focused on growing our customer base at the moment, but we are open to exploring opportunities to expand. At the end of the day, the most important thing for us is to continue the restaurant’s legacy in Singapore.
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