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A Pumpkin From Heaven

imageIt was a laid back Sunday afternoon watching a movie with friends and after being back home we all felt hungry but were too lazy to make a big effort. I then mentioned that I had some great ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ at the signature Chinese restaurant of the Park Royal Hotels and apparently that was reason enough so we located the closest Park Royal and were on our way.

Wandering around the restaurant looking for the bathroom i spotted a dish on another table that I just had to have. What caught my eye was their signature ‘Pork Belly Pumpkin‘ and since we weren’t super hungry I ordered a smaller version for S$26. When it came to our table it looked absolutely beautiful, a whole pumpkin from the oven, filled up with big glazed and braised pork belly cubes. The pork belly pieces were mega tender and soft and the fat melted between the meaty parts and fused into the magical gravy that had a sweet roasted aroma with a soya infused richness that made this the perfect sin. The pumpkin that was baked until soft soaked up the delicious sauce and made it by far the best pumpkin I have ever had.

Besides this outstanding vegetable and the noodles we also had their ‘Cucumber & Chili‘ as an appetizer which were great, steaming hot, slightly sour and fiercely spicy which i considered fun to eat.

I think I mentioned before that I am not a big fan of these nicer sit down Chinese restaurants but ‘Si Chuan Don Hua’s’ food is just so good. I really have to come back and give their ‘Dim Sum‘ and ‘High Tea‘ a  shot.

http://www.sichuandouhua.com

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
Park Royal Hotel
181 Kitchener Road
Singapore 208533
Tel: +65 6428 3170

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Shanghainese Soul Food

imageI went hiking on the “Dragon’s Back” with a friend from Australia who accidentally was in town at the same time and without breakfast and real lunch I was super hungry when it got to dinner time. We all met up at the ‘Double Happiness Cafe’ in Soho for some Shanghainese fair which was one of the places my other friend wanted to bring me the night before to try out their ‘Dan Dan Noodles‘.

And so this was one of the first dishes we ordered. The bowl arrived piping hot which unfortunately cooked the noodles a little too soft and caused me burning myself on several occasions. There was a very strong peanutty flavor to the broth emphasized by the whole peanuts swimming around in there which also added some crunchy texture. The soup was creamy but not unpleasantly thick or heavy. The meat was nice and juicy with quite a few fatty chunks that I left aside. Nevertheless a lovely dish.

imagePretending to be healthy we ordered the crunchy and refreshing ‘Spicy Garlic Cucumber‘ with vinegar and the ‘Sichuan Style Vegetables‘ that consisted of cabbage, onions, peppers and broccoli and had a nice numbing punch.

imageI hardly leave any Chinese restaurant without having some dumplings if they have some so we ordered their ‘Steamed & Panfried Shanghainese Jiao Zi‘. They had a tasty skin which was a bit thicker and instead of chives they used preserved vegetables that gave the dumplings a unique taste I never had before.

imageMy hiking friend said she had to have the ‘Stir Fried Glutinous Rice Cake‘ which I never even heard of before so I was more than up for it. When it arrived it reminded me of the haloumi from the night before. The slices of panfried rice cake had a nice charred flavor and were much harder than I anticipated, a bit similar to squid. With the sweet savory glaze and the veggies this really worked well together and creatively used something as basic and plain as rice and turned it into a tasty, tasty dish.

imageWe were slowly filling up but had the ‘Roasted Pork Shanks with Herbs‘ left to tackle. The meat was quite tough and stuck to the bone but the spice rub tasted interestingly great with a strong hint of cinnamon.

I liked this place already for it’s name but also for the Chinese interior, the free welcome walnuts and above all the great food. I’m a huge fan of ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ and this sure is one I wouldn’t mind having again. Double happiness for everyone.

Double Happiness Cafe
48 Stauton Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2549 1862

The La-Mian-Quest continues!

imageAfter not making it down to ‘Silk Road’ at the Amara Hotel during my friend’s visit I needed to come here and try their ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ myself. A workmate joined me so we could order a little bit more dishes to taste.

As it was the focus of my mission today I started up with the ‘Sichuan Dan Dan Mian‘ which oddly arrived in a flat pasta dish but nevertheless looked very promising. There was heapz of minced pork sprinkled all over and the gravy looked thick and dark red. Taste wise I must say it was all in all good but not too special, slightly spicy and with sesame of course. The noodles tough were too soft for me and I reckon not the home made kind which became more certain as other noodles on the menu were particularly declared as “handmade”.

imageAside we ordered the ‘Cucumber in Garlic Sauce‘ which I loved. The portion was huge and the cucumbers were the tasty small kind with a lovely crunch to them. All that covered in a nice garlicy chili sauce that was refreshing in between all the warm and meaty dishes. We also ordered the ‘Minced Meat Dumplings‘ and also the spicy version. Both tasted okay but I preferred the normal ones as the Sichuan version wasn’t spicy at all and a bit coldish.

image At last we had their special ‘Shenyang Snowflake Dumplings‘ that were eight tasty meat and chive dumplings united through a thin layer of crispy dough similar to a very flat pancake. Even that the taste wasn’t really knocking me off my feet, eating dumplings like that was something new that I haven’t seen before, which I appreciated.

The food here was good but since recently I have been to places like ‘Si Chuan‘ which offer really yummy ‘Dan Dan Mian’ and I wasn’t a too big fan of the atmosphere here I might return to the Amara rather to check out one of the many other restaurants here.

http://www.silkroadrestaurants.com/

Silk Road Restaurant                                                                                                                                          165 Tanjong Pagar Road                                                                                                                                 Level 2 Amara Singapore                                                                                                                        Singapore 088539

Dan Dan Sunday!

imageOne of my visitors fell in love with the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ from ‘Hong Guo‘ in Chinatown but since she had to leave on Monday night, when they are closed, and today was Sunday, when they only do dumplings, I was looking for some new alternative. On a fellow blogger’s site I found two restaurants that he or she called the best for ‘Dan Dan‘ noodles in Singapore – ‘Si Chuan Dou Hua’ in the Old Parkroyal Hotel on Beach Road and ‘Silk Road‘ at the Amara Hotel in Tanjong Pagar. Due to convenience and laziness we chose ‘Si Chuan’ simply because it was closer to home and we did right with it. The place has a tea house ambience without the fridge like coldness of many Chinese restaurants here. Our waiter was a bit reserved at first but every time she came back to our table she became visibly happier and smilier.

We ordered the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ (6$), the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (XLB) here called ‘Steamed Minced Meat Dumpling in Superior Stock‘ (4.5$) and the not steamed ‘Minced Meat Dumplings in Superior Stock‘ (6$). The noodles looked delicious and were nicely presented in a pottery bowl but unfortunately were cooked a tad over my preferred al dente. Nevertheless they tasted great, not too spicy but full of sichuan pepper flavor covered with a light chili oil and just a hint of sesame. The minced meat and mushrooms enriched the dish and made it quite filling even that the portions weren’t too overwhelmingly generous and for a texture change the baby kaylan did a great job.

imageAnother great surprise were the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ with superior stock. They come only in threes but delicious threes. For XLB they were quite big but mainly because of the huge amount of soup inside and the meat was very finely minced and tasty. Visually they were almost perfect; enough folds, transparently thin dough so the soup could shine through and on the bottom a razor blade thin slice of carrot preventing the baos to stick to the paper. Odd but something different and since it didn’t taste like anything I didn’t mind it. The stock truly tasted superior and there was plenty of it too. I later regretted not to have ordered more of those but the place, even that nearly empty, wasn’t the fasted so we refrained from any second rounds.

imageAfter all those tasty dishes the soup dumplings came across boring and bland. Presentation, quality and texture were fine but that doesn’t help if the food itself has no taste at all. On my next visit I rather have more of the XLB or try something new.

Finding new places with really great food always makes me really happy and ‘Si Chuan’ surely made my list for top ‘Dan Dan Mian’ places to go. Thanks ‘Foodie-ah’, good one.

http://www.sichuandouhua.com

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant                                                                                                                Parkroyal Hotel                                                                                                                                                  7500 Beach Road                                                                                                                                    Singapore 199591

If it’s too hot, you are too weak!

imageI first tried this awesome dish when visiting a good friend in Beijing last year where she brought us to a restaurant that fries you up any ingredient you can think of in a spicy chili gravy.

Today again I had different plans for lunch initially as I wanted to bring an old uni friend who came over for a visit for Xiao Long Bao and Sichuan Noodles but didn’t know that Chinatown Complex is currently under renovation. Thinking of a fast solution to our problem I remembered friends mentioning that they found a shop which offers the ‘Mala Hot Pot‘ in a Yong Tau Fu style at People’s Park Food Center right across the street.

We were really hungry so we went for a big bowl of the medium spicy version with lots of vegetables, glass noodles, potato, tofu and beancurd skin (10$). It came out of the kitchen piping hot and smelled wonderful. We got our grub on and it was exactly as I remembered it from China. The ingredients were all fresh and not overcooked, all covered with a glaze of their biting chili gravy with enough Sichuan peppers to numb your entire pie hole. It started quite harmless but the more we worked our way down where the ingredients soaked in the gravy it slowly started burning holes into my stomach. Let’s just say we were happy we went for medium. Oh and the noodles, loved the noodles, next time I have to ask for a double portion.

This place is great and as ‘Dry Pot‘ is not yet so commonly available in Singapore I will pay them a visit from time to time when I need to spice things up.

Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo                                                                                                                                 32 New Market Road                                                                                                                                         #01-1042 & 1053 People’s Park Food Center                                                                                   Singapore 050032