Qi – House of Sichuan, which is based in Hong Kong, has a new outpost at MBFC. The restaurant Qi is named after a pivotal ingredient in Sichuan cuisine, the star anise, in hopes that it will shine bright like a star or that Rihanna’s song. The Hong Kong restaurant opened in 2013, and is helmed by Head Chef Wong Chun Fai who led his team to clinch one Michelin star for three consecutive years since 2016.
The menus in Singapore and Hong Kong are almost exactly the same except for some minor changes like the crab (they use Sri Lankan crabs here because Singaporeans prefer it, but they use Canadian crabs in Hong Kong). For both places, they import the 6 types of chillis and other spices from Sichuan. The menu isn’t the traditional Sichuan food; there are some innovations which, to me, are interesting.
As you may know, Sichuan food is really spicy. In Singapore, the new restaurant is finding their feet and seeking feedback so that they can adjust their “new normal” of spice level. But for this dinner, the spice level was just right for me; I mean, there was a little pain and sweat, but that can be exciting.
Instead of dousing it sesame sauce, the appetiser bang bang chicken ($13) comes with a spicy peanut sauce on a bed of crunchy cool cucumber. It’s nice but nothing spectacular.
Their chilli wontons 红油抄手 ($12) is really on point, and is one of the better, if not best, versions I have in Singapore. The skin is thin and silky, and the sauce is extremely aromatic. Order this.
Sugar-glazed ginger and scallion beef ($25) is one of the few non-spicy mains on their menu, and it’s super great. It’s quite sweet, and the sugar has caused the skin to granulate, giving it rough and wonderful texture, contrasting with the tenderness of the meat.
Chongqing style chicken ($38), or better known to Sichuan food lovers as 辣子鸡, is the cornerstone of Sichuan cusine, consisting of cubes of fried chicken with lots of chilli. This one lacks the fragrance and flavour. And it’s quite expensive. Skip this.
First time eating a Sichuan style of fried chilli crab. Singapore usually serves crab by market price, but they fix their prices at $115 for about a kg. Not a bad price. I just had a 1.3kg crab at a cze char shop for about the same price.
In any case, this dish is excellent. The chilli batter has enveloped the crabs, sealing in the freshness and juices, so it isn’t very spicy; the spice brings out the delicate sweetness of the seafood. Very fresh too. Get the crab.
We also had the slow-cooked beef short rib in mala ($75), marinated overnight and stewed for 2-3 hours. It is just ok and too expensive although I like the mala acidity that can be felt at the sides of the tongue. At this price, I’d say skip it.
The braised Garoupa fish fillet in chili oil soup ($40/$50), or 水煮鱼, is made with chicken broth. It differs from the traditional 水煮鱼 because you can drink the soup here. (The traditional version is much too spicy and too oily to be drunk, and most people usually don’t drink it.) It’s rather exciting, almost masochistic, to drink the soup, and I could only finish half a bowl before I gave up. Someone at the table finished it all, but two persons took a sip and pushed it away.
Redbean pancake ($9)
Compared to Shisen Hanten, a Sichuan restaurant which also received a star in Japan and Singapore, Qi isn’t as refined or as subtle. But on the whole, the food here is satisfactory and tasty. I like the modern twists they give to the traditional food, making it anew, although sticklers may not appreciate it. If you want to impress your mother-in-law, bring her to Shisen Hanten, but if you’re meeting friends and family for a casual dinner, Qi is great.
Qi – House of Sichuan
Marina Bay Link Mall #02-01, 8A Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018984
tel: +65 6634 8277
You may be interested in…
–Chong Qing Grilled Fish 重庆烤鱼, Chinatown: Sichuan Fiery Dishes So Delicious We Come Twice a Week
–Birds of a Feather, Amoy St: Modern Sichuan Food in Paradise
–Silk Road, Amara Hotel, Tanjong Pagar: Inner Mongolian Chef Presents Provincial Homemade Wheat Noodles and Dumplings From $8 to $14!
–Old Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Restaurant, Chinatown
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.