Friday, June 5, 2009
Dim Sum Day 3: Si Chuan Dou Hua
It just keeps getting better and better. Or should I say crazier? Day 3 of the Dim Sum marathon by Cuisine & Wine Asia brought us to not one, but two fine restaurants - back to back. First up was Si Chuan Dou Hua perched loftily atop UOB Plaza on the 60th floor. We had the pleasure of Linda Loke, Director of F&B, hosting us with aplomb and affable charm.
We tried around 40 items from their 100 dim sum weekend brunch (S$38.80++). I really liked this one, because they offer some unusual items like Szechuan/Sichuan-style cold appetisers, in addition to regular Cantonese dim sum. In fact, a couple weeks later, I brought my whole family here, including Sichuan-phobic hubby who agreed it was good food.
These may look simple but they're all incredibly refreshing, especially the cucumbers!
Top left: Chilled Preserved Cucumber with Garlic & Peppercorn
Top right: Century Egg & Mushroom in Ginger Sauce
Bottom left: Abalone Mushroom in Sesame Oil
Bottom right: Asparagus with Sea Moss
Preserved Fungus with Chilli Padi - I absolutely love this. Black wood ear fungus served chilled, lightly spicy and tangy. Look how pretty it is. This fungus is apparently very good for health too - it helps to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Perfect when you're pigging out on dim sum!
Sliced Duck in “Teo Chew” Style. Very nicely marinated and thinly sliced duck, served chilled.
Duck Gizzard. There are certain organ meats I love and others I am squeamish of, like kidney and gizzard. But in the spirit of adventure (and much persuasion that theirs has no gamey taste), I took a bite of this. Wow, it was indeed very clean-tasting.
Sliced Beef & Tripe in Chilli Sauce. I love beef tripe, so this was a natural winner for me. Yes, they use Sichuan peppercorns here, but the fragrance is not overpowering - good for me, cos although I adore spicy food, I am not fond of the Sichuan peppercorn which oddly smells like chemical perfume to me.
Pig Kidney with Preserved Chilli. Fear factor food for me, but I also hazarded a try. Interesting bouncy texture that yielded easily. What's amazing is how they've managed to mask any foul smell completely!
And now, on to the warm dim sum items, both steamed and fried. The wonderful thing is that the portions here are all dainty and small, allowing you to sample more variety without feeling too full. In fact, they will allocate one piece per diner, even though it's more work for the kitchen. If you like a certain item, you can then request more of it.
The Crispy Chicken Puff is delightful. It's just how the whole thing is seasoned inside.
Steamed Siew Mai with Quail Egg. I really liked this one, and wished there had been more. The quail egg added richness and eggy flavour to the siew mai.
Crispy Carrot Cake. Where's the carrot cake? Wrapped inside the popiah skin! Certainly a novel presentation. They do have the regular panfried carrot cake as well.
Steamed Siew Mai with Crab Roll. Each of them bitesize, and delicious. Notice they use bouncy tobiko instead of the usual fish roe steamed opaque.
Har Gau or Shrimp Dumpling. The skin's so translucent, you can see the granular pattern on the shrimp's body within!
Braised Beef Noodle Soup. Hearty and robust, with really good noodles.
Pan-fried Fish Pancake with Parsley. Now this one made me sit up and wonder how it was made. Crispy layers that tasted savoury and umami. You can't stop at one (unfortunately we had to).
Glutinous Rice Roll with Pork Floss wrapped in Lotus Leaf. One of the restaurant's signature creations, based on an actual Sichuan snack. But it reminded me too much of Nonya kueh.
Pan-fried Shredded Yam Pancake with Waxed Meat. Absolutely hands down the tastiest fried yam patty I've had anywhere. There was enough wax meat flavour that you don't feel bogged down by the carbohydrates.
Steamed Shark’s Fin & Chicken Dumpling. If you don't take shark's fin, you can opt not to have this. But this was already cooked and served, so we didn't waste them. I have to say that for chicken-based dim sum, these are pretty good.
Pan-fried Sweet Corn Pancake. These are OK, good if you like corn.
Dumpling with Chilli Oil. I think I forgot to try these!
Sichuan Chilled Noodle. The slightly dramatic presentation elevates the dining experience.
Steamed Onion Roll with Butter. These may seem plain as buns without any filling, but I enjoy them. Besides, they're handy for mopping up whatever delicious sauce is left from other dishes.
Fried Pumpkin Pancake. On the streets of Sichuan, you will find pumpkin pancakes the size of your fist. Here, the restaurant has transformed this tasty snack into an elegant miniature too pretty to eat!
Steamed Lotus Paste Bun with Egg Yolk. Something different from the regular custard with salted egg yolk, and it works.
Crispy Fried Glutinous Rice Balls. I can't remember what was inside these. I probably forgot to taste these. There were just too many items to shoot and try!
Si Chuan Dou Hua has literally staked its name on bean curd ("dou hua"), and they do it extremely well. It's made inhouse, twice a day, for maximum freshness. They have several variations, including the unusual Savoury Bean Curd (above) and a Sour and Spicy version.
The Homemade Bean Curd with Wolfberries in lightly sweet syrup is still their best. The bean curd is divinely smooth and soft without compromising on the soybean taste. It's simply ethereal. My favourite of all the desserts there. In fact, I went back for it but unfortunately they weren't able to make any bean curd that day. Time for a third trip? :)
The yam paste (orh nee) with gingko nuts is rather nice here. Smooth without being too sweet.
Si Chuan Dou Hua has 20 desserts, the most I've seen in any Chinese restaurant! Glutinous rice with coconut milk, mango & pomelo cream, red bean paste with lotus seed, herbal jelly, almond cream with fungus, chilled strawberry jelly, chilled coconut & jackfruit cream, just to name a few.
There were some interesting lanterns in the private dining rooms. Linda tells us the The dining chairs too were specially commissioned and imported from Vietnam.
Of course, one major highlight of dining at Si Chuan Dou Hua is watching the gongfu tea masters. Hubby was completely stunned by their performance. The physics involved in swinging and balancing the kettle, and pouring a jet stream of hot water safely into a tiny teacup placed near the diner is mind-boggling. See more at the Eight Treasures Tea post.
The weekend dim sum brunch comes with one selection from six premium teas. It also boasts one of the longest hours ever (10am to 3pm) for you to enjoy your leisurely meal. After all, there's 100 dim sum to try.
100 Dim Sum Weekend Brunch
Sat, Sun and Public Holidays
Time: 10am to 3pm
Adult $38.80++, Child (below 1.2m) $26.80++
Check out Ladyironchef and Aromacookery for their take on the session. Looks like ieatishootipost has done a video log, not so much on the dim sum that day, but tea pairing at Tian Fu Teahouse (which is nestled within Si Chuan Dou Hua).
Many thanks to Linda for being such a wonderful host, and Cuisine & Wine Asia for arranging this. We learned much from Linda and were very impressed with her passion for what she does. I leave you with the million-dollar view from the 60th floor of UOB Plaza, overlooking the city.
SI CHUAN DOU HUA
TOP of UOB Plaza
80 Raffles Place, #60-01 UOB Plaza 1,
Tel: (65) 6535 6006
Parkroyal on Beach Road
7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591
Tel: (65) 6505 5722
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