SINGAPORE - Chinese restaurant Xi Yan, one of the pioneers in Singapore's private dining scene, will be closing after 13 years.
The popular restaurant, located at 38A Craig Road, will serve its last meal on Feb 23, 2019. It is owned by several partners including Hong Kong celebrity chef Jacky Yu.
Mr Thomas Choong, one of the partners of the restaurant, cited "a rental hike" as the main reason for its closure. A new space has not been found yet.
He said: "It is unfortunate that we will have to shut. We are not sure when and where we will reopen - we are looking for a space but this will take time. And it can't be just any space - it has to be a place with character."
The restaurant is known for its well-executed and innovative range of Chinese fare. Signature items over the years have included dishes such as momotaro tomatoes in a piquant sesame-wasabi sauce; Salivating Chicken - a Sichuan-style dish of poached chicken with century eggs, spicy chilli sauce and konnyaku noodles; and Dongpo pork belly served in towers shaped like pagodas, stuffed with preserved vegetables and mushrooms.
Xi Yan here is an offshoot of Xi Yan Private Dining in Wanchai, Hong Kong, which opened in 2000. The Singapore restaurant opened in 2005 to much fanfare, just when private dining was catching on here. Back then, the reservations-only restaurant had a minimum dinner party size of six people. It was one of the hottest eateries in town, with a two-week to month-long waiting list.
These days, it is still busy and has a loyal following. Reservations can now be made for just two people and prices start at $50 a person for lunch, and $88 a person for dinner.
In 2014, Xi Yan branched out with the mid-tier concept Xi Yan Casual Dining, located at Shaw Centre. There are plans to open another outlet soon.
Mr Choong adds: "Xi Yan in Craig Road is very sentimental to us. Here, we have witnessed many weddings, the blossoming of romances. There have been business deals that have been made here, friendships that have been forged. We hope to reopen sooner rather than later."