Food Picks: Sichuan Alley's poached rice, Mezcla's tacos, food offerings at Teochew Festival

(Clockwise from top left) Poached rice with barramundi, assorted tacos and handrolls, soy braised pork belly, festive glutinous rice.
(Clockwise from top left) Poached rice with barramundi, assorted tacos and handrolls, soy braised pork belly, festive glutinous rice.PHOTOS: SICHUAN ALLEY, MESCLA, ERIC LOW

Sichuan Alley's Poached Rice

Poached rice (pao fan), a popular dish these days, meets grain bowls at casual restaurant Sichuan Alley (formerly known as Chuan Hung).

My top pick is the pickled vegetables soup poached rice with barramundi ($13.50), which features a spicy chicken broth instead of the usual seafood-based soup.

Each bowl comes with mixed grains - pearl rice, pearl barley, red quinoa and oats - as well as a variety of vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cherry tomatoes. The dish is topped with a generous piece of barramundi and puffed rice for added crunch.


Poached rice with barramundi. PHOTO: SICHUAN ALLEY

My tongue tingles with each spoonful, but this healthy-ish version of pao fan is something I'd be happy to eat frequently.

There is another option with clams ($11.50) and you can request mild or non-spicy versions.

The non-spicy mushroom chicken soup poached rice ($11) is also a comforting bowl of goodness featuring the same mixed grains, as well as shiitake, white button and shimeiji mushrooms.

Another new rice dish is the mapo tofu don ($9) with minced pork and firm tofu in a mildly spicy sauce, mixed with pearl rice and quinoa. I like the addition of roasted cauliflower, edamame and sweet potato, which are lightly dusted with mala spices.


Mapo tofu don. PHOTO: SICHUAN ALLEY

For a work-from-home meal, go for the bundles priced at $50 with free delivery. Each bundle is good for two people and includes two poached rice dishes, sides and drinks.

Where: 01-01, 51A Telok Ayer Street
MRT: Telok Ayer
Open: 10.30am to 3pm, 5 to 9.30pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 10.30am to 9.30pm (Fridays to Sundays)
Tel: 9755-1058
Info: sichuanalley.oddle.me


Taco Time at Mezcla

It is a fusion of Japanese and Mexican flavours at newly opened Mezcla in Craig Road, which puts a fun spin on tacos and handrolls. It is run by the folks behind Rappu Handroll Bar and The Feather Blade steakhouse, which are also in the Tanjong Pagar area.

I enjoy the handrolls at Rappu, and Mezcla's do not disappoint as well.


Japanese-style handrolls with soft shell crab (left) and uni and scallop (right). PHOTOS: MEZCLA

Options for the Japanese-style handrolls - which use crisp seaweed "tacos" as the cradle for plenty of ingredients - include unagi ($9.50), tempura soft shell crab ($11.50) and the decadent Uni & Scallop ($32).

For the Mexican tacos, which use tortillas, pick from Carnitas ($8.50) with pork jowl and chicharron (fried pork rinds); wagyu ($11.50) with wagyu brisket and guacamole; or chorizo ($8.50) with grilled chorizo, chicken and chipotle salsa.


Assorted Mexican tacos and Japanese-style handrolls. PHOTO: MEZCLA

There are small plates to share. A must-try is the Unicorn ($18 for two), a purple tortilla chip topped with elotes (grilled Mexican street corn), uni and cotija (Mexican cow's cheese) cream.

Pair the food with tequila-based cocktails ($18) and margaritas ($13). End on a sweet note with mini churros tacos ($9 for three) filled with vanilla creme and Valrhona chocolate.

Where: 43 Craig Road
MRT: Outram Park/Tanjong Pagar
Open: 6 to 10.30pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays
Info: Mezcla's website


Teochew Festival 2021

The upcoming event, which will be held virtually, showcases Teochew culture through performing arts, cuisine, history and handicraft.

Running from Nov 5 to 14, the third edition of the festival is co-organised by Teochew clan association Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and performing arts group Nam Hwa Opera.

Foodies like me will be drawn to the smorgasbord of food offerings.

Chef Eric Low, owner of Lush Epicurean Culinary Consultancy, has developed a range of limited-edition Teochew-inspired steamed buns, dim sum and other comfort dishes for the festival. These include black olive-flavoured chicken buns, preserved radish (chye por) meat buns and shallot oil-flavoured yam paste buns.


Teochew-style cabbage rice. PHOTO: ERIC LOW


 Black olive vegetable chicken bao. PHOTO: TEOCHEW FESTIVAL 2021

He is also conducting a series of webinars and online masterclasses.

The three webinars, which are free, focus on preparing masterstock for braising meats; how the humble ingredients of salt and pickles help enhance Teochew dishes; and traditional Teochew kueh and its evolution.

The masterclasses (from $20, registration is required) will feature forgotten recipes as well as popular traditional Teochew dishes such as sweet and savoury glutinous rice, Teochew steamed fish and muah chee made with modern home appliances.

Also, check out the virtual food street on the festival's portal. You can order ready-to-eat dishes and other food products from 25 Teochew hawkers and restaurants, such as Swatow Seafood, Kueh Ho Jiak and Ri Tao Fu Teochew Pig's Organ Soup.

When: Nov 5 to 14
Info: Teochew Festival's website