Jin Huang Sze Chuan Restaurant
This was a completely random find and a nice surprise. We spotted the restaurant's big green signboard from the street that suggested that it was serving Sichuan food. With the recent demise of Chuan (what a shame - I guess my prediction unfortunately came true), the thought of finding another Sichuan place sounded pretty good. When we finally arrived (100 Jalan Sultan Road #01-09, 6299-1228), we were a bit discouraged to find that it was actually a hotpot place (yet another one!) instead of actual served dishes (and the hotpot spread wasn't looking like anything great either). But we still went ahead and sat down, grabbing a bowl with the spiciest broth as well as the milder pork rib soup on the other side.
What emerged from all of this was much better than we expected. The red broth was spicy enough that it really got the adrenaline going, no doubt assisted tremendously by a very mainland-ish peppercorn accent...but not so heavy so as to be annoying. The quality of the ingredients, while certainly not spectacular (hey - it was only S$13 or US$7.70 after all), were good enough. And the service was energetic and prompt (the gas-fuelled burner also helped to get the broth boiling quickly). No, they didn't have any sa cha sauce, but the concoction that I made with sesame oil, cilantro, and egg still worked for me.
Now, my preference is still for the Whispering Man here, in part because of his better ingredients, but more importantly because his broth uses fewer Chinese herbs (the pork rib broth here was very, very herbal...apparently the chicken broth would have been the preferred choice for me). But I can understand why people would prefer this place instead, particularly since it is probably more true to form (then again, the presence of a tom yum broth on the menu here would fuel a debate on that assertation). The place has only been open for two months, and is open late too, so I am earmarking this one for the future (noting of course too that eating all of this oil is not the healthiest thing either). Either way, this was a pleasant find, and totally unexpected.