Chengdu Sichuan Restaurant at Outram Road - Gastronomic Ruminations
Since the closure of Ba Yu Ren Jia Restaurant, my parents, friends and I have been seeking alternatives but none came close to the food we used to enjoy. At long last, Poppies from Makansutra's Forum found Chef Tang De Hai's new restaurant, Chengdu Sichuan Restaurant, along Outram Road.Chong Qing Kou Shui Ji 重庆口水鸡 @ S$13.40 Mouth Watering / Salivating Chicken with an additional century egg
After the hiatus, how is the food? Chef Tang still serves up my favourite Kou Shui Ji in Singapore! Essentially chilled chunks of poached chicken marinated in a spicy Sichuan peppercorn and chili sauce, accompanied with fresh cucumber chunks and topped with lightly roasted peanuts. This is a MUST-TRY as its the best I’ve had so far in Singapore. We like to add a century egg to this dish because the smooth and slightly gelatinous egg goes very well with the spicy sauce.Sichuan Dan Dan Mian 四川担担面 @ S$5.80
I've missed Chef Tang's Dan Dan Mian so we shared a bowl whilst waiting for the rest of the food to be served. It's a classic one-dish meal of noodles topped with a spicy Sichuan peppercorn-flavoured minced pork sauce, scallions and chili oil. He still does it as well as I remembered it. The right balance of saltiness and spiciness without being overwhelmingly spicy. This dish was edible even for my sister-in-law who has an extremely low treshold for chili.Shui Zhu Yu 水煮鱼片 @ S$36.80 (large)
One of my favourite Sichuan dishes, Shui Zhu Yu (loosely translated as “water cooked fish”) looks intimidating to the uninitiated with the copious amount of dried chili and Sichuan peppercorns floating on the surface of a thick layer of chili-infused oil. I miss the waitresses who used to work at Ba Yu Ren Jia as they used to ladle most of the chili oil, dried chili and Sichuan peppercorns into a separate bowl for us. If you’re trying this dish for the first time, drain as much oil as possible from the ingredients as the “heat” is in the chili oil. You can always add more chili oil to increase the spice factor to suit your taste and tolerance.Ma Yi Shang Shu 蚂蚁上树 @ S$8.80 Stewed Mung Bean Vermicelli with Minced Pork in Spicy Bean Sauce (Literal name: Ants Climbing up a Tree)
This is also one of my favourite dishes! It's next to impossible to find a place in Singapore that serves a decent version of it and many do not even serve it at all.
The name of this dish is intriguing as the literal translation means "ants climbing up a tree". The reason for the interesting name is because when one picks up some mung bean vermicelli with a pair of chopsticks, the minced pork that clings to the vermicelli threads resemble (with a healthy dose of imagination) ants climbing up a tree.
Chef Tang makes my favourite Ma Yi Shang Shu in all of Singapore (at least amongst all the restaurants that I've tried)! It was excellent though I felt it could do with a little more heat, like how Chef Tang used to burn our tongues! The mung bean vermicelli had been thoroughly infused with the rich flavour of the spicy bean paste. A perfect complement to a bowl of steamed rice. This dish is definitely a MUST-TRY!Du Zi Ji Bao 肚子鸡煲 Claypot Chicken Soup @ S$29.80 (large) with Pig's Stomach, Pork Trotters, Bamboo Pith, Red Dates & Wolfberries
My dad's favourite dish by Chef Tang is the Claypot Chicken Soup with Pig's Stomach, Pork Trotters, Bamboo Pith, Gingko Nuts, Red Dates and Wolfberries. As always they're very generous with the ingredients and the milky broth was flavoursome. Though I don't like Pig's Stomach, thankfully, there isn't a strong flavour in the tasty soup. This is a Must-Try!Gan Bian Si Ji Dou 干煸四季豆 @ S$16.80 (large) String Beans Fried with Preserved Mustard Greens & Minced Pork
My brother doesn't like bittergourd so we had the traditional Gan Bian Si Ji Dou. This dish should be eaten with steamed rice because the black bits of Preserved Mustard Green (aka Sichuan Ya Cai) add a salty flavour with the moist bits of minced pork fully absorbing its saltiness. The beans were well seared on the outside giving a slightly crisp bite to the juicy and sweet beans.Gan Bian Ku Gua 干煸苦瓜 Bitter Gourd fried with Preserved Mustard Greens & Minced Pork
I love bitter gourd so I was thrilled when the guys at my table during my latest visit went with my suggestion to order the bitter gourd version instead. I prefer the bitter gourd version because the slight bitterness of the vegetable mitigates the saltiness of the preserved mustard greens far better than the sweetness of the long beans making it a more palatable dish on its own.Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐
Some things don't change. The Mapo Tofu here was as unsatisfactory as it was when it was served at Ba Yu Ren Jia. A significant factor is because there is simply no Ma 麻, or tongue-numbing quality in this dish, which is a pity because the very name of the dish requires that the diner should feel some amount of tingling sensation on the tongue. To date, I have not had a Mapo Tofu in Singapore that can beat the one served at the now defunct Jin Hang, which is sad as it's one of my favourite Sichuan dishes. We found out when we were leaving that Chef Tang had not cooked this dish on our last visit. The makankakis who had tried the Mapo Tofu whilst I was away were disappointed as the version they had was much better. We resolved to give the Mapo Tofu another try on our next visit.Hui Guo Rou 回锅肉 a.k.a. Twice-Cooked Pork
My parents love this dish but we didn't try it during our previous visit because we simply had too much food. I was glad to be able to try it on my latest visit.
The dish bears this name because the pork belly is first boiled in water, sliced thinly, then roasted over high heat in a wok to give it the sliced pork belly a smoky flavour before the seasoning is added. It's fairly simple to cook this at home, the trick is to sear the sliced pork belly adequately to render a little fat without overdoing it and causing the thin slices to dry out excessively. The pork slices were a little too dry for our liking, perhaps the person preparing this dish had overcooked the pork.Chong Qing La Zi Ji 重庆辣子鸡 Spicy Deep-Fried Chicken