Monday, August 1, 2016

Two-Michelin Star Shisen Hanten Has New Menu

With two Michelin stars, Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro is now the highest Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant island-wide. But Chef Chen Kentaro (standing, left) is not resting on his laurels but rolling out new dishes for the season already.

The restaurant at Mandarin Orchard is Shisen Hanten's debut outlet outside Japan. Kentaro's grandfather Chen Kenmin started the chain in Japan. He is regarded as Japan’s “Father of Sichuan Cuisine” while Kentaro's father is Iron Chef Chen Kenichi aka “The Sichuan Sage.”

Kentaro himself has trained in the family's business as well as in the Sichuan region itself from 2005 to 2008. He frequently goes back to Sichuan to get new ideas. This celebrity chef is also often seen on TV programs back in Japan.

The Chef's Appetiser (above, left to right) features a novel crispy sea cucumber with salt and pepper, chilled century egg and beancurd with Sichuan sauce, cold steamed chicken with sesame sauce. A pleasant opener for the intense flavours to come.

The London Roast Duck is a must-try. They use Irish birds (fattier than local ducks) and cook them with Chinese herbs. The result is an incredibly aromatic dish of juicy succulent meat topped with crispy skin.

Steamed sea perch with yuzu sauce: this was lovely. The delicate fish melts on your tongue with a heady yuzu signature. The housemade sauce is unabashedly strong but you want to slurp up every savoury drop. Meanwhile the generous yuzu zest lends a mildly bitter citrusy aftertaste.

A photo posted by Catherine Ling (@camemberu) on

Chef will surprise you with certain dishes that are not on the menu, depending on what's good in the season. Right now (July-Aug), shishito (Japanese green peppers) are at their best. So Chef has concocted this stunning dish of Green Pepper Braised East Spotted Grouper in a stunning gravy using fermented beancurd. Best dish of the night!

At first the plethora of peppers looks like chopped green onions, but it's way more delightful when you realise it's all shishito! Don't worry, it looks spicy but it's not. The crunch of the peppers and their mild peppery taste completely make this dish not only fun but moreish.

The Pan-fried Kuroge wagyu beef with Ma-la radish sauce didn't fare as well because the beef was a little too dry and overcooked. The radish sauce is a real treat even though it's really salty. It's a great dip for both the tempura and the beef.

"Chen's Mapodoufu" is a Chen family recipe of stir-fried tofu in Sichuan pepper-flavoured meat sauce. It uses a doubanjiang (chili broad bean paste) that's fermented over three years. While it looks like it packs a fiery punch, this is the mildest 麻婆豆腐 I have ever had. I guess it's suited for Japanese palates, much like their curries. It's still very rich and umami, and goes well with the steamed Hokkaido rice.

Fried noodles with abalone and seafood in superior soya sauce gravy: while I usually love crispy noodles, this one was just all right. The seafood was undoubtedly fresh though.

Desserts was a simple peach almond chilled tofu.

On the whole, the cuisine at Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro is wonderfully bold and strong in flavours. The dishes however, don't seem to be as spicy or "mala" as authentic Sichuan restaurants. Good perhaps for those who like Sichuan fare but can't take spicy food. Aside from the Sichuan specialties, they also offer Cantonese dishes in their extensive menu.

From 5-9 August, they have a National Day's set menu for min four pax. There's a weekend dim sum brunch that I am eyeing. The menus are all available online.

Level 35, Orchard Wing
Mandarin Orchard Singapore
333 Orchard Road
Singapore 238867
Phone: +65 6831-6262/ 6831-6266

Open daily
Lunch: 12noon to 3pm
(last order: 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6pm to 10pm
(last order: 9.45pm)

Many thanks to Shisen Hanten and Mandarin Orchard for the invitation


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