Si Chuan Dou Hua at the PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road has always been one of my favourite Chinese restaurants to visit ever since I was introduced to it slightly over a year ago. I recall the times when they whipped out delicacies such as the Roast Suckling Pig and the Nostalgic Dim Sum Buffet Feast, each with dishes that are warm, hearty, and always a joy to partake in. With reasonable prices and a very friendly service staff, it was no wonder I celebrated my birthday there this year with the family. The restaurant at Kitchener is now back with a new promotion that rides on its theme of Nostalgia. Executive Chef Leung Wing Chung and his team is proud to present 6 varieties of charcoal-cooked claypot rice that range from salted fish, yam, waxed meat and even frog legs. Memorably, the most exciting part for the meal is when the dark soya sauce and sweet sauce is stirred into the claypot dish right before your eyes. Whiff the slightly charred rice when the lid is lifted, sniff the sweet smoky aromatics that blend in harmony with each stir. And relish in the visual harmony of beautiful brown, red and colourful greens. Talk about entertaining the senses, this is nostalgia come alive!
Stepping into the restaurant once again, I noticed the fragrant aroma of charcoal and claypot coming together. Strategically, two rows of claypots were placed at the entrance with some of them burning away to gently create an atmosphere to make you hungry.
It was a pleasure meeting Executive Chef Leung Wing Chung once again. Chef Leung hails from Guandong, and has experienced numerous kitchens from his work in Fortune Gate, Tung Lok Restaurant, Summer Places and Xin Cuisine. I’m always pleasantly surprised to find new dishes every few months. Furthermore, with each dish being generally memorable and well worth mentioning.
Coming in to the restaurant after a 40 minute taxi ride, I was first served the Double-Boiled Deer Tender with Deer Antler ($18). This soup is a must order especially during this promotion. As I understand from chef, the soup changes each season, and depending on his inspiration, something else might be served after this run ends. The double boiled venison soup was rich with hearty flavours that embodied smooth, comforting textures. The dried scallops and herbs add to the savoury venison stock, and it was sheer pleasure to indulge in the portion of deer tendon. Gelatinous, with a good bite that speaks volumes for your complexion. This bowl was a delight all on its own.
In addition to the charcoal-cooked claypot rice, the restaurant is also serving charcoal-cooked dishes in this promotion. The Stewed Fish with Bean Curd Skin and Roasted Pork ($22) was the next dish served. Umami flavours in wisps of charcoal fragrance permeate the cotton like textures of cod. Flavourful ingredients like the roast pork, beancurd skin and dried mushroom intensify the overall taste, making the stock rich and savoury. I took the first bite, was hooked, line and sinker. If I did not have the claypot rice to come, I would definitely enjoy this with steamed white rice.
For a dish that reminds you of good, sweet savoury flavours, the Braised Spare Ribs in “Wuxi” Style with Pan-fried Vegetable Bun ($26) fills that thought. The crisp vegetable bun stuffed with chives, go exceptionally well with the salty, slightly sweet red gravy. Flavours of robust savouriness from the slightly oily chives is well complemented with the thorough sweetness from the sauce. Each bite reveals a textural crispy bun with a fluffy interior. Almost perfect combinations all in one. The spare ribs is also good with a good layer of fat to melt in the mouth. The meat, falls off the bone easily, and is also very flavourful with the red gravy well permeated throughout.
The Pan-fried vegetable bun
Different stages of the Charcoal-cooked claypot rice. Assorted Wax Meat variety.
Sauce is added in. A brisk stir.
And an even more thorough stir
This was my favourite Claypot rice dish. The Claypot Rice with Assorted Waxed Meat ($18) is to my opinion the most simple of offerings, with nothing but preserved sausages and innards acting as the main ingredients complementing the fragrant toasted rice. The rice is simmered and cooked in the claypot in the kitchen, thereafter the ingredients are added onto the top before serve. This allows the rice to be lightly flavoured with charcoal fragrance and flames charring the sides here and there. At the dinner table, sauces are poured into the dish, and with a few quick stirs, the toasted fragrance coupling with the essence of sweet sauce is almost too tempting to not dig in. For the assorted wax meat dish, I noted the tender oil from the ingredients playing a key role in uplifting that scent. Once everything is ready, dig in and appreciate the graininess of each rice in wholesome sweet savoury flavours.
The Claypot Rice with Live Frog, Waxed Meat and Mushroom ($18) is another option to go for. Out of the two, my favourite is still the waxed meat variant as frog meat is for me somewhat ordinary in flavour, though not necessarily any less fragrant. For UOB Cardmembers, your 2nd dish of Claypot rice is priced at only $9 instead of the usual $18. So if you are there as a group and willing to try more, the promotion becomes even more value for money.
For a dish to share, there is the Braised Sri-Lanka Crab with Vermicelli in Spicy Chilli Sauce ($26). A whole crab, chopped into pieces, is prepared for this dish together with a good amount of tang hoon and chilli oil. The chilli is merely mildly spicy, enough to flavour the dish. The crab is good, though the real star of this dish is the tang hoon that has wonderfully soaked in all the flavours of sea sweet crab and spicy chilli oil. Great for sharing, this is best enjoyed hot and well received when you allow the dish to sit for a couple of seconds covered for it to fully soak in more smoky aromatics.
The Braised Ox-tail with White Radish and Garlic ($22) is another option to choose from. This western inspired creation is satisfying in the very first bite. Note the sweetness from the carrots well infused throughout the gravy. The flavours, compounded with essence of tomato and sweet spices dress up the stew into a beautiful, thick and heavy concoction. The choice of radish lend a subtle neutral texture to the dish, giving a peculiar and light hearted sweetness that is crystal clear and refreshing amidst the savouries. The ox-tail however is in small portions, which might not be the best for those looking for a heavy dose of meat. Appreciate the gravy, the meat though important becomes secondary.
A special dessert for the night is the Deep Fried Yam coated with Soya Bean Crisps (Made to order upon reservation). Initially, I couldn’t make head or tails towards what this dish was. It looked like something coated with cereal, yet it was not cereal. When I took the first bite, I shifted in my seat, laid back, and allowed the sweetness of yam, compounded with a caramelized coat of sugar to settle all over the tongue. The slightly dry crispiness from the outer texture was fragrant in its own right, and acted as a beautiful textural contrast to the velvety interior. And when it was revealed, that texture was made from okara (soy bean pulp). Thoroughly deceived, yet whole heartedly tasty. A must order dessert.
The restaurant’s homemade bean curd with wolfberry
Me and Executive Chef Leung
The Nostalgia Charcoal Roast Promotion is available from now till the end of 2013. In addition to the charcoal-cooked claypot rice and other delights, the restaurant is also featuring its roast suckling pig prepared by Barbecue Chef Zheng Guang Liang. The Roast Suckling Pig is available at $198. UOB Cardmembers will enjoy 50% off the second order of the suckling pig (i.e $99) and it can be taken away or consumed on the next visit. My experience for the night saw me enjoying most of the claypot dishes, with my key favourites going to the Assorted Waxed Meat Rice and the Braised Ox-tail. It is possibly one of the few restaurants in Singapore able to serve up a fine and rustic dish of charcoal-cooked claypot rice that is fragrant and delicious in the way that it is supposed to be done. The beauty of this dining affair is not just enjoying the flavours of the dish alone, but also to take in the fragrant atmosphere when each dish is served. It is a nostalgic allure that is made for the senses, reminding one of the good ol’ days where charcoal stoves lined the streets with each pot bubbling away in sweetness and a good dose of smoky flavour.
Thank you PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road for the invitation.
|Si Chuan Dou Hua
PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road
181 Kitchener Road
Reservations 6428 3170
Promotion runs till 31st December 2013
UOB Cardmembers will enjoy 50% off the next dish of charcoal-cooked claypot rice and roast suckling pig.