Chiobu and Yandao like Chongqing Grilled Fish so much they can come here twice a week. Sometimes, they even eat here for consecutive days. Very gian after seeing her instagram photos, I gathered my friends. Chiobu warned, “There are two outlets. Don’t go to the Bugis one. The service there is terrible.”
When we arrived at the Chinatown outlet, we were sian half. We made a reservation at 7pm, we arrived on time, but clearly they didn’t keep a table for us. I don’t like restaurants like this. What is the point of making reservation if you’re not going to keep a table for the customers? (To be fair, after we were seated, the service was ok.)
Their speciality is grilled fish under hot charcoal in a hotpot of Sichuan spice. You may choose the fish: seabass 金目鲈 ($32/$38), golden snapper 红曹 ($32/$38), patin fish 水果鱼 ($38), and grass carp 草鱼 ($48).
After you choose the fish, you choose the hotpot broth. Their signature sauce is spicy numbing 麻辣, which we got, but Chiobu recommends spicy fragrance 香辣. Other flavors include mushroom herbs, fermented black bean, pickled cabbage, hot and sour, and fresh chilli. You can also customize the spiciness. We got the least spicy 小辣 but Chiobu can take most spicy 大辣.
After the fish and the hotpot, you pick the ingredients that go into the hotpot. I suggest ordering some ingredients that soak up the hotpot, such as fried potato ($3.80), black fungus ($3.80), and thick vermicelli ($3.80), and some ingredients that can remain crispy in the hotpot like lotus root ($3.80), to give a variation of textures.
How is it? It’s not life-changing but it is moreish. Quite good value for fish. And I understand Chiobu’s and Yandao’s addiction. As I am typing this, I want to return to eat it.
Mouthwatering chicken 口水鸡 ($6.80), another signature of Sichuan cuisine, is ok.
Drypot bullfrog 干锅牛蛙 ($24) is similar to ma la xiang guo ubiquitous in food courts and hawker centres. It uses frog’s legs. Quite good.
The best dish, I thought, is the chicken cubes 辣子鸡 ($15). Although there is more chilli than chicken and you have to dig for chicken, the fried cubes are fragrant.
“No, no,” Ms Atas said, “the best dish is sweet and sour pork ($14) because it’s the non-spicy dish that relieves all the heat.”
Actually, if you want a non-spicy dish, I highly recommend the Chinese spinach with century egg and salted egg yolk sauce ($11). It is not the usual tri-egg spinach in stock that is usually at Chinese restaurants. This one is ladened with salted egg broth
Including beer which is cheaper than water, we paid $210 for 7 persons. No one LS after the meal, so that means our stomachs could handle the spice level. If you don’t LS after eating Sichuan, you ain’t eating it right. Haha. Will return for the grilled fish and the chicken cubes and maybe the salted egg spinach.
Price/Value: 7/10 (the grilled fish is affordable but the other cooked dishes are expensive)
Overall rating: 3.25/5
You may be interested in…
–Wan He Lou 萬合樓, Jalan Besar: Famous Lobster Porridge
–Lokkee: American Chinese Food With Sichuan Flavors
–Shisen Hanten: Two Michelin-Starred Sichuan-Japanese Restaurant
–Oriental Chinese Restaurant (东方美食)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.