Tar Pau Nation: What to order in

Covid-19 stay-home guide: Wake up palate with Sichuan flavours

In this daily series, Senior Food Correspondent Wong Ah Yoke digs into delivery options and rates them for you

(Clockwise from right) Chong Qing Diced Chicken With Dried Chilli, Boiled Fish In Sichuan Pepper Sauce and Sichuan Noodles With Onion Sauce.
(Clockwise from right) Chong Qing Diced Chicken With Dried Chilli, Boiled Fish In Sichuan Pepper Sauce and Sichuan Noodles With Onion Sauce. ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

After a week of ordering food in, I felt I needed to spice up my meals with some tongue-numbing Sichuan dishes.

My go-to place for the cuisine is Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurant at Parkroyal on Beach Road. It is not cheap, but it is offering island-wide free delivery as long as you order at least $30 of food.

That is a big plus factor because many restaurants need a much bigger order - some as much as $80 - to waive charges. I often pay more than $10 for delivery.

Si Chuan Dou Hua also offers a 15 per cent discount with the promo code PRSIN15 if you spend at least $38.

My favourite dish from the restaurant is Chong Qing Diced Chicken With Dried Chilli ($24) or la zi ji. The small pieces of chicken, which are infused with chilli oil, are so spicy that I would end up with perspiration dripping down my forehead, but I love that burning sensation.

However, the dish took a hit from the travelling time required to reach me. The meat was not as super crispy as what I had at the restaurant. There were some pieces that still had some crunch but not others, so it was half as good at best.

However, it was fiery, even though there was more chicken than dried chillies in the box. But whenever my palate needed a respite, I would dig out the bits of sweet spring onion and garlic buried among the chillies.

Boiled Fish In Sichuan Pepper Sauce ($28) turned out to be better. It was a generous serving with the fish laid over a layer of lettuce leaves.

The fish slices had been fried to help them keep their shape and not fall apart as easily when picked up with chopsticks. They were fresh and tender, with just the right amount of heat from the sauce.

Typical of this classic Sichuan dish, the sauce might look like a soup but it was very oily and certainly not for drinking.

If you like it too much to throw it away, however, here is a tip. Boil some wontons or jiaozi, add them to the leftover sauce and you get spicy dumplings.

To go with the spicy dishes, I got a bowl of Sichuan Noodles With Onion Sauce ($8). The noodles had clumped together by the time they arrived, but kept their firm texture. And the combination of aromatic shallot oil and soya sauce was lovely.

My meal came with a $20 dine-in voucher that expires at the end of September. And there were three fortune cookies.

I opened one. It said: "Look for the silver lining in life."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2020, with the headline Tar Pau Nation: Wake up palate with Sichuan flavours. Subscribe