Weets Eats: Seductive Sichuan spice at Chuan Hung
Sichuan food is seductive, especially the spicy, numbing elements of the cuisine.
You approach the food with trepidation and anticipation, and after some sweat and sometimes tears, you end up buzzed.
I think of it as 50 shades of Chuan.
The latest seductress is Chuan Hung, tucked away in a corner along Amoy Street. It is a pretty but simple space, neither the tables, chairs or space around you invite you to linger.
However, the food will lure you back.
I ate there once at the restaurant's invitation and returned on my own almost immediately.
One draw is the Australian Ox Tongue with Vine Pepper Soup ($14.90).
It was love at first sip. The pleasurable numbing sensation was addictive, and I liked that it was not too spicy. That gives you a chance to fully appreciate the flavours of the ingredients and the soup, before numbness takes over.
The ox tongue was tender and buttery the first time I tried it. Although it was not as tender when I returned, it was still good.
But, for me, the soup is the reason why this is a favourite. It is made with chicken bones and infused with Sichuan vine peppers and chilli padi, but the heat is just simmering as a tantalising undertone.
At $13.50, the Signature Braised Beef Noodles is a steal.
The pieces of Australian beef cheeks are chunky and flavourful, in an aromatic soup made out of doubanjiang, chillies and peppercorns. There is a hint of bitter and a touch of herbal but mostly spicy.
There is an option for a clear broth, and the both times I tried it, I was bored. The base is pork bones with lard, which I could not detect. You can add spices to it to ramp it up though.
And there is an option for noodles or rice noodles that comes from an artisan in Sichuan. It sounds too hipster to be taken seriously but the firm texture worked for me.
Be sure to try the sides.
I ate the Fried Crispy Pig Intestines ($5.50) twice and both times I was happy.
When I returned, the portion seemed to have shrunk a little and it was not as pretty, but the crisp is still there, with the crunch of leeks.
When I saw the Liang Fen (or Cold Bean Jelly, $3.50), I was expecting a topokki-like texture, which I do not like. But this worked for me because it was the soft, pillowy texture of cheong fun instead.
The sauce is addictive. It is made out of doubanjiang and fermented black beans, which is then combined with different Sichuan peppers.
It has enough spice for you to take it seriously but not too much of a burn that you will not be able to enjoy the rest of your meal.
One side dish I did not like was the Braised Eggplant ($4.50).
The steamed eggplant was basic, while the bell pepper sauce added nothing. It reminded me of convalescence food and not in a comforting way either.
51 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01
Open weekdays 10am to 3pm, 5pm to 9pm; weekends 10am to 9pm