WE TRY: SI CHUAN DOU HUA RESTAURANT’S NEW HERITAGE DISHES

It’s as if we’ve wandered right into a traditional Chinese shan shui (landscape) painting—timbre panels mimic the soft gradients of mountains, framing a full moon in which a flock of birds and a passing boat are backdropped by tall peaks. Marking its first refurbishment since opening in 2011, Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant at Parkroyal on Kitchener Road has unveiled a new grand entrance, matched by vermillion “brushstrokes” on the carpet and bold hues on the wall, along with fresh menu items.

The grand entrance.

Created by executive Cantonese master chef Leung Wing Chung, who brings with him more than 40 years of culinary experience, the new a la carte dishes showcase heritage flavours in an innovative light. Launched in time for the Lunar New Year festivities and available all year round, the Exotic Garden with black truffle in osmanthus sauce is the restaurant’s yusheng creation.

Exotic Garden yusheng.

Presented in a spinning ice bowl for extra theatrics, the refreshing dish comes with crunchy vegetables like white radish, beetroot, cucumber, and salad greens, tossed in a decadent mix of truffle oil, black truffle sauce, osmanthus sauce, brown and white rice puffs, freeze dried pineapple, and homemade crispy soybean crumbs.

Steamed eel.

While it’s uncommon to see eel on the menu at Cantonese restaurants, chef Leung’s rendition was excellent. The steamed eel, mildly sweet and soft, was served atop a steamed pumpkin that resembled a baked tart shell. Topped with homemade soya bean crumb, dried scallop, sakura shrimps and prawn roe sauce, it was both comforting and deeply savoury. To impress your guests, make room for the crispy brown rice with two-head abalone in superior stock. Cooked on the spot by the table side, the dish is packed with textures from the use of brown, pearl and white rice puffs, as well as rich flavours courtesy of ingredients like scallops, prawns, sakura ebi, conpoy, and preserved vegetables.

Crispy brown rice with two-head abalone.

My personal favourite was the duo of traditional crispy chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, goose liver, and waxed meat—a Cantonese classic. We were told that each “roulade” takes a whooping two hours to prepare, with the chef having to debone a chicken, flatten it to leave only the skin and a paper-thin layer of meat, before layering core ingredients like glutinous rice, brown rice, pearl white rice, peanut and sweet corn. With each bite, the thin layer of crispy chicken skin enveloping each morsel gives way to the softness of glutinous rice, followed by sweet and salty flavours from the fillings. What a treat.

Desserts were a simple affair, but I particularly enjoyed the homemade purple rice bean curd with red bean, which cleansed my palette with its lightly sweet flavours.

More information here.

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