If you've been following this blog for awhile, you will know that I often lament at the lack of variety when it comes to cuisine along Scott Road. As much as Indian food rocks, the only other options are chain restaurants and fast food. But a small shift has started with such new spots such as Kung Fu Chef and Chongqing. Rising up from the ashes of Saffron Flavour is something of an anomaly in these parts - a Szechaun restaurant. Wait, isn't Chongqing a Szechaun restaurant too? In theory yes, but not in the traditional sense.
Freshly off the Chinese Restaurant Awards, I briefly considered the water-boiled fish, but quickly realized that I've had nearly 15 of them in the last month. Hence, I went for 3 smaller dishes instead starting with Mouth-Watering Chicken. Yes, I've had this many times lately as well, but thanks to Emily, I'm slightly addicted to it. This one was pretty solid with tender pieces of chicken that had nicely gelatinzed skin. The chicken itself wasn't inherently super flavourful, but the sauce made up for it. It wasn't really all that spicy, but there was tonnes of kick and deep flavours from the spices including hits of cumin and ginger. Next, I tried the Garlic Sliced Pork Belly. In terms of overall taste, this dish had it. There were big chunks of fresh garlic with soy and vinegar that was appetizing. However, the belly itself was too thick and the fat was not gelatized. Rather, it had a lard-like texture.
Lastly, I went for some Xiao Long Bao (despite the place not being Shanghainese). They were decent as regular dumplings, but as expected, not great XLBs. There was really no soup to be found, but the pork was flavourful and moist with a rebound texture. Although the dumpling skin wasn't overly thick, the bottom was overdone being wet and soggy. Now these 3 dishes were not even close to scratching the surface of the menu, so I returned on another day. I only went for 2 items this time around, going for the Szechaun Meat Salad to start. Consisting of tender beef, tendon and tripe, this was all meat with only some cilantro on top (the type of salad I like!). This was impactful with big hits of saltiness, a touch of sweet and definitely tongue-numbing spice.
For my main, I had the Spicy Pork with Garlic Stems. This was a fairly large portion with tender slices of somewhat fatty pork. I liked how there was plenty of meat texture left. The garlic stems were plentiful and prepared properly. They were vibrant green and crunchy while cooked all-the-way-through. The only flaw with the dish was the lack of spice as promised. In fact, the dish was bordering on bland. On my 3rd visit, I decided on their Cumin Lamb lunch special. As much as the lamb was tender and fatty, there wasn't much of it to be found. Rather, the dish was mostly onions and peppers. Now that actually made everything taste better with a sightly spicy savouriness to go with the ample cumin. In actuality, the dish tasted more like curry than cumin (although there is cumin in many curries).
I also got the Szechuan Beef Noodles which looked pretty legit when it hit the table. However, the soup base was not very spicy nor flavourful despite the dark hue. Even the hot peppers on top didn't help. The noodles themselves were greasy and a touch soft. I did like the texture of the beef as it melted in my mouth. Unfortunately, the beef was very bland. From all these dishes I tried, it clearly demonstated that Chuanyue is a legit Szechuan restaurant in a place you would least expect to find one. There are some consistency issues though as I ordered the mouth-watering chicken again and it was dry and bland. But whatever the case, at least there is an authentic Szechuan option on Scott Road.
- Authentic Szechuan cuisine
- Decent eats
- A tad pricey
- Some consistency issues