Yes, I know, Holland Village is not in Dover.
But it made sense for this stalwart establishment which had been a fixture at Holland V for a good number of years to retain its original name, given how well known they have become.
And the long wait for the food when its full house is quite the testament to its popularity. No, I don’t think it is because they cook slowly – I’ve been there around 5 times in the last year and the usual time taken is reasonable.
To me, the food here is satisfying and tasty – the best part is the fragrant and heady smell and taste of XO filling the senses upon the first whiff and sip of the XO Fish Beehoon Soup (S$7 for 1 pax, S$16 for 2 pax, S$15 for 3pax and so on).
The large slices of fish in the soup usually look like they’ve been lightly pan-fried, which gives them a light golden colour and adds a rich tasty flavour to the soup. Some cuts were pretty smooth and tender.
And after trying versions of this at other coffee shops which just throws a shot in after cooking, this one tasted like the XO was boiled together with it, as it permeates the entire broth – but perhaps they do add some after too, for strength.
And actually, even though the eatery’s star dish is its namesake, they do fry up some other pretty good stuff too.
Like the Sweet and Sour Pork (S$10 for Small). These chunky morsels of pork had a nice crispy exterior coated with a delicious, mostly sweet tasting sauce with a bit of a sour tang – and upon biting into them, one is rewarded with a nice tender texture inside.
I thought the smaller pieces tended to be a bit dry inside and could afford to be juicier, but Z felt the opposite and preferred the little ones as they were crunchier. We keep going back for this dish as he really likes it! He even thinks it is probably the or one of the best ‘ku lou yuk’ in Singapore. Oh and it does seem to have the requisite ‘wok hei‘ essence of well loved Chinese dishes too.
Other dishes I’ve tried there include the House Special Beancurd (S$10 for Small), Prawn Paste Chicken (Har Cheong Kai), and the San Lo Hor Fun, which were all quite decent as well.
The beancurd dish comes with prawns and some mushroom and vegetables, ensconced in a tasty thick starchy sauce. I rather enjoyed this dish, and had it maybe about two or three times already.
For the prices paid, the portions were pretty good value and filled us up nicely.
I also liked their ‘Har Cheong Kai’, a local favourite found in many coffee shops and restaurants. These chicken wings were plump and juicy, covered in a mid-thick batter and fried to a nice crisp. The prawn taste wasn’t really very strong, but sufficient to enjoy without overpowering.
Overall I and also Z enjoy the food at this place and are fairly frequent patrons of it.
Though I must say if you’re really hungry on a weekend night and looking for a place to have dinner, this probably isn’t it – as the waiting time during busy periods can be quite long. I think on our latest trip there on a Sunday night, it took maybe around 45 minutes for our food to be served.
There’s not much service to speak of though and depending on his mood the somewhat eccentric boss can be very friendly or very rude. That doesn’t really bother me because I like the food, but do take note if you have issues with bad service.
It seems they have a branch in Chinatown too, which is more well received (and has air conditioning) – so perhaps I’ll try that one next time, when I’m in the area!
Holland Village XO Fish Beehoon
Jumbo Coffee Hub
Blk 19A Dover Crescent
#01-05, Singapore 131019
Tel +65 6778 3691
Open from 11.30am to 2.00pm and 5.00pm to 11.00pm.