Chef Tang De Hai, my favourite chef for Sichuan food, left Chengdu Sichuan Restaurant at the end of March 2012 to set up Lao Si Chuan Restaurant with his family members. My fellow Sichuan food addicts and I waited patiently for him to settle in before popping by for dinner at the end of April.
Chong Qing Kou Shui Ji 重庆口水鸡 @ S$ 9.80
Mouth-Watering / Salivating Chicken
add century eggs @ $6.80 supplement
This dish comprises of chilled chunks of poached chicken marinated in a spicy Sichuan peppercorn and chili sauce, accompanied with refreshing cucumber chunks and topped with lightly-roasted peanuts and white sesame seeds. We requested for century eggs to be added to the dish as the smooth and slightly gelatinous egg complements the spicy sauce. This is still the best we’ve had so far in Singapore and is a MUST-TRY.
Chong Qing La Zi Ji 重庆辣子鸡 @ $16.80 (small) / $32.80 (large)
Spicy Deep-Fried Diced Chicken – portion above is small
Topping the spice charts for it’s “burn factor”, is Chef Tang’s signature Chong Qing La Zi Ji. This is not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for those who are unable to withstand the burn of chili. If Chef Tang had one dish to rule them all, this would be it because he makes the BEST La Zi Ji all of us have ever had in Singapore.
Tossed in a potent mound of dried chili, Sichuan peppercorns, peanuts and young ginger slices that have been fried to enhance the flavour, one has to rake through the spicy topping to pick out bite-sized, piquantly juicy deep-fried cubes of chicken. The golden-brown, crispy chicken cubes seem innocuous when removed from the pile but when bitten into, the heat from the Sichuan peppercorns that it had been marinated with builds up on the tongue rendering it numb with swollen lips to match. Though the dish has us sniffling, sometimes even tearing and gulping down Soya Bean Milk to counter the burning sensation on our tongues, we cannot help but keep eating the spicy chicken as the tingling feeling and the flush that it brings to our faces is quite addictive. This is a dish for sado-masochists of the culinary variety and absolutely a MUST-TRY!
Gan Bian Ku Gua 干煸苦瓜 @ S$8.80 (small) / S$16.80 (large)
Sliced Bitter Gourd fried with Preserved Mustard Greens and Minced Pork
Du Zi Ji Bao 肚子鸡煲 Claypot Chicken Soup @ S$15.80 (small) / $29.80 (large)
with Pig’s Stomach, Pork Trotters, Bamboo Pith, Gingko Nuts, Red Dates & Wolfberries
Offering our embattled palates a reprieve from the escalating burn of the spices, is the slightly spicy bittergourd dish. The slight bitterness of the young bittergourd reduces the saltiness of the preserved mustard greens, allowing us to eat it on its own without needing to counter the salt with steamed rice. Yet another dish that’s a Must-Try
The only non-spicy dish that we ordered, the milky broth was very flavoursome due to the generous use of ingredients. The portion shown here is a large serving. Though I do not eat Pig’s Stomach, I enjoyed the soup immensely as the ingredient didn’t leave a strong flavour of organ meat.
Shui Zhu Yu 水煮鱼片 @ S$16.80 (small) / S$36.80 (large)
Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 @ S$8.80 (small) / S$16.80 (large)
Beancurd in Spicy Minced Meat Sauce
How can any Sichuan dinner be complete without Shui Zhu Yu (loosely translated to mean “water-cooked fish”) ? One of my favourite Sichuan dishes, the dish looks intimidating because of the thick layer of chili-infused oil speckled with copious amounts of dried chili and Sichuan peppercorns. The smooth slices of fresh fish and crunchy strands of soy bean sprouts had partially absorbed the saltiness and spiciness of the broth. For me, the best part of this dish is the potato starch noodles as it is completely infused with the flavour of the spicy sauce. 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 and avoid biting into any stray Sichuan peppercorns. This is a Must-Try
Mapo Tofu is not Chef Tang’s specialty so whilst it was tasty, there was not much Ma 麻, or tongue-numbing quality in this dish. This is a pity because the dish typically triggers a tingling sensation on the tongue. This is a tasty complement to some steamed rice and suitable for those who are just starting to eat Sichuan food and are afraid of the tongue-numbing sensation.
Sichuan Hui Guo Rou 四川回锅肉 @ S$12.80 (small) / S$24.80 (large)
Sliced Pork in Spicy Sauce a.k.a. Twice-Cooked Pork
This dish gets its name from a two-step cooking process, almost like the Chinese porky version of Mexican refried beans. The pork belly is first boiled in water, sliced thinly, then roasted over high heat in a wok to give it the sliced pork belly a smoky flavour before the spicy seasoning is added. The tender slices of pork belly glistened with fat rendered from the searing process. Coated with a fragrant and slightly spicy sauce, the succulent pork belly slices and chopped leek were good enough to eat on their own.
Ma Yi Shang Shu 蚂蚁上树 @S$ 16.80 (large)
Stewed Mung Bean Vermicelli with Minced Pork in Spicy Bean Sauce (Literal name: Ants Climbing up a Tree)
Second only to La Zi Ji, Ma Yi Shang Shu is another of Chef Tang’s most potent dishes. It is not listed on the menu but is available upon request.
Not an easy dish to find in Singapore, the literal translation for the name of this dish is “ants climbing up a tree”. The reason for the interesting name is because when some mung bean vermicelli is picked up 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.
Lao Si Chuan Restaurant 老四川饭店
249 Outram Road,
Phone: +65 6226-3658 / 6222-9489
Operating Hours: 5 pm to 5 am daily
Aug 2013 UPDATE: Chef Tang has left Lao Si Chuan and returned to China. Do keep me posted if you discover a new place with awesome Sichuan food. I need my fix soon! 🙁
The strands of mung bean vermicelli had been thoroughly infused with the rich flavour of the spicy broad bean paste. Best eaten with steamed rice, the version Chef Tang has been dishing up of late has not been as fiery as it used to be at Ba Yu Ren Jia. Nonetheless, this dish is a MUST-TRY!
Feb 2014 UPDATE: Heard that Chef Tang’s replacement is better. Will check it out and keep you posted!