Taking over the space of K-Tower, Chengdu Restaurant at Amoy Street serves a wide repertoire of authentic Sichuan cuisine. Sichuan food – most famous for their “ma” (tongue-numbing) and “la” (spicy) flavours – can be notoriously harsh on your stomach. However for this dinner, the spice level was just right for me, someone who can tolerate spicy food. But should you be one of the few brave ones, feel free to up the notch as the spice level here is customizable.
As an appetiser, the pork belly in garlic ($12.80) is simple but with bold flavours. The combination of thinly sliced pork belly with crunchy cucumber sheets in a dip of aromatic sauce of red chilli oil and garlic makes the dish a refreshing appetizer; Sweet, sour and spicy.
The other appetiser, however, isn’t as good. The spicy beef cubes in chilli beef with sweet corn base ($24.80) are first boiled in a Sichuan-style spicy marinade, air-dried, and then simmered in a secret sauce for a few hours. The beef is too tough. The crunchy corn crisp is sweet and I enjoyed it on its own. However, we are supposed to eat the chilli beef cubes together with the fried sweet corn base so that the sweetness of the corn can ameliorate the spiciness of the beef. This combination does not work for me as both the beef and corn are dry; it’s dry-meets-dry.
The very Instagram-able spicy grilled frog skewer ($29.80) is presented on a model of a Chinese junk with a figurine that sings and dry ice vapour spewing out from the sides of the ship. Thankfully, the skewers taste as good as they are presented. The frog meat, well-seasoned with their in-house marinade and brushed with traditional Sichuan sauce, is tender and has a crisp exterior. However, this is pricey and I would suggest the restaurant to do away with the gimmicks and let the food do the talking, or singing, instead.
The beef with pickles in sour soup ($25.80): the soup broth is prepared with twelve different kinds of vegetables and copious amount of green Sichuan peppercorns, green and red chillies. The soup is tangy, tongue-numbing and satisfying. The portion of shabu-shabu like beef slices is also reasonable.
Fish with green pepper soup ($35.80 for whole fish, $26.80 for small): The green finger chillies and chilli padi swimming in the rectangular pot look menacing, but the soup is not as fiery as it appears. The use of green Sichuan peppercorns is liberal and its citrusy aroma elevates the dish. Although a special Sichuan pepper oil is added before serving, making the soup oily, the soup is still more suitable to be drunk than the traditionally very spicy, and very oily 水煮鱼.
The 12 flavours of Chengdu ($36.80) is Chengdu Restaurant’s version of the Beggar’s Chicken. The kampung chicken (yay for flavour) is marinated with Sichuan spices for several hours and stuffed with mushrooms. After which, the chicken is wrapped in lotus leaf and aluminium foil and then covered with clay and placed in an earthernware jar which stands at the door of the restaurant. (It’s not just for décor!) The chicken is baked over charcoal fire for a few hours and the end result is a moist and tender chicken. It is served with 12 different kinds of sauces, hence the name “The 12 Flavours of Chengdu.”
The giant sesame ball ($16.80), inspired by traditional sesame glutinous rice balls, is prepared by continuously rotating it in hot oil for at least 20 minutes to be cooked uniformly, until it puffs. Even though it is fried, it does not feel heavy; it is crispy and not too sweet, and it tastes like 年糕. The pumpkin pancake ($6.80) and the brown sugar glutinous rice stick ($6.80) are fried to perfection, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. However, the pancake would be better if the filling is sweeter.
On the whole, the food here is satisfactory.
74 Amoy Street, Singapore 069893
Tel: +65 6221 9928
M-Sat 11am–3pm, 5pm–10.30pm, Closed on Sun
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Written by Vanessa Khong. Vanessa is someone who enjoys checking out the local food scene. She believes the way to her heart is through her stomach.