Xi Xiang Feng is a Cantonese restaurant on busy King Georges Road in Beverly Hills that is open until late (1.30am!). It was the perfect place for a festive season dinner. To find the best dishes you'll have to know where to look to order and once you do, you'll be rewarded with food worth making a special trip for - dishes like mud crab with sticky rice in a giant hot pot or crispy roasted pigeon!
It was a celebratory pre-Christmas dinner and a hankering for a delicious Chinese crab dish that prompted my visit with Laura to Xi Xiang Feng in Beverly Hills. When we park in the back street and get out it smells like being overseas, with aromas of different restaurants wafted past our noses and mingling together. It's unseasonably warm this evening too.
We have a booking at Xi Xiang Feng and they show us to our table at the front of the restaurant near the door. There's a main dining room and a few private rooms for large groups as well. They ask us if we want tea and hand us a menu each. We flick through it and it's full of Canto or Australian Chinese classics.
The only problem with going to restaurants based on TikTok recommendations is that the items that they try don't appear on the menu so there's a few moments of panic as we wonder if we've gone to the right place or not. Then Laura brings up the TikTok video and shows it to them and asks if they've got said item in the video and all is well. You see we've been handed the English menu while the Chinese menu has the more interesting options.
The food takes a while to arrive and I sort of wish we had ordered some dumplings as we are getting peckish. Some of the other tables also get complimentary soup which is something we only tend to be given when we're dining with my Chinese family. It's just a simple pork bone and vegetable soup but it is always tasty.
First the pigeon arrives piping hot and crispy skinned. The pigeon isn't actually on the English menu, it's on the Chinese menu. Sometime-vegetarian Laura dabbles in fowl, particularly the crispy skinned variety but the head of the pigeon needs to be covered with a huge celery leaf as it makes her squeamish. There's a salt, pepper and herb mixture on one side and a dark, sweet sauce to dip it in. I love the salt and pepper mixture with a piquancy to it (they say that it's a herb but we couldn't find out the name of the herb). There isn't a lot of meat because well, it is a pigeon so it's a bit like eating quail and involves bones but it's delicious and I love how it is served hot and so crispy skinned. It's not inexpensive for that price but it is superbly done.
The crab comes out next and they bring it out in a large black hot pot. They put the shell on top and then serve it to us on a plate. The crab was $78 per half kilo and around 800g/1.7lbs so it's good for the two of us (possibly even too big but at least it isn't one of those big 1.2kg crabs). It comes with a wonderful sticky fried rice with lots of lup cheong and vegetables in it and the crab has a delightful ginger flavour to it. The crab is also incredibly meaty and we are in heaven sucking out the meat from the claws and fat pincers although it seems like we can't make a dent in this dish there is still so much left in the pot.
We also ordered the pei pa tofu dish which is prawns and shiitake mushrooms minced with tofu and formed into balls and deep fried. This is one of my favourite dishes and I like that it's always served with broccoli. Here the sauce is served on the side whereas it's usually served blanketed over the tofu and vegetables. The sauce needs a bit of seasoning but once we add a little salt from the pigeon it really sings.
The staff are mostly super lovely (and is there a rule that one person has to throw your food on your table?) and the girl that boxes up our crab asks us if we'd like to try some sweet soup for dessert. My eyes light up. Sweet soup is the dessert of my childhood and she brings over two bowls of tong sui that has red beans, sago and tiny bits of citrus peel. It's wonderful and comforting. Even the oranges, something I usually bypass, are juicy and sweet and worth trying.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever tried pigeon? Do you like eating mud crab or seafood with your hands?
This meal was independently paid for.
Xi Xiang Feng
483-485 King Georges Rd, Beverly Hills NSW 2209
Open 7 days 5pm-1:30am