Sichuan Restaurant, New Bridge Road
This place probably didn't win any awards for creative names, but I noticed this while passing through Singapore's Chinatown the other day. We thus came by tonight to check it out (199 New Bridge Road, 6225-2578). True to its name, this place serves Sichuan food, so we grabbed a couple of our favorites, including red oil wontons, which turned out to be surprisingly sour but were still pleasantly spicy enough to be consumed in seconds.
Perhaps more interesting were a couple new things that we tried, one of which was called laohucai, or "tiger vegetable" from northern China. What is this, you ask? Imagine that you were in the kitchen, getting ready to stir fry some beef or something, and on the side you have all of your fresh spices ready to go into the hot wok to help season the beef. But now remove the beef from the picture, as well as the hot wok, and what's remaining is "tiger vegetable."
Yup, that means a cold plate of nothing but sliced chili peppers, scallions, cilantro, sesame oil, vinegar, and salt. Sounds nasty? Far from it. This thing was so fragrantly spicy that I still salivate just thinking of it. Yes, it was a bit weird just eating a bunch of uncooked spices without any actual "food" to go with it, but I guess one can just think of it as a salad...or a Chinese version of salsa except that you have to eat it straight without any chips (something that I will half-embarrasingly admit to have done before).
Finally, we got something that looked so odd on the menu that we just had to try it. This "beer duck" dish literally came with an inverted glass of beer sitting in the middle of the plate. The idea was that the beer would slowly seep out from underneath the glass to help provide a bit more flavor to the duck. I was a bit skeptical at first, so I was rather surprised to find the added taste of the alcohol not only rather pronounced but also rather agreeable (did they marinate the duck, by chance?).
Unfortunately, this thing was so loaded with bones that hardly any edible meat was to be found...perhaps it's meant to be more of a bar snack where you slowly suck out the flavor rather than actually trying to get full. Well, despite the gimmicks (and a disappointingly gooey stewed eggplant that we got), we'll be coming back to try out more, especially since they are conveniently open until 3 AM. Hometown just may have some new competition if some of the other dishes here turn out OK.