Friday 21 July 2023

Sichuan Alley – Comforting Sichuan Dishes [MEDIA INVITE]

Sichuan Alley is a concept by The Foreign Project Group. Sichuan Alley is the expanded version of the Sichuan Alley noodle bar and took over the space of the defunct Basdban. Sichuan Alley (“SA”) serves hearty Sichuan dishes, comforting noodle dishes, complemented with creative cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

Sichuan Alley
Outdoor Seating
We started our meal with Small Plates and Signature Dishes. Zhang Fei Beef Slice ($11). It is a traditional dish normally served during the Spring festival in Sichuan area. Known to be low in fat, this dish uses the lean part of the beef and marinated with spiced powder. In SA, the marinade beef is thinly sliced, showcasing the bright pink flesh in the middle and penetrated by the spices. Think of it like Sichuan’s version of beef jerky.

Zhang Fei Beef Slice
Zhang Fei Beef Slice
Smoked Pork Liver ($7.50). A Sichuan version of dried pork liver pate, wrapping the egg yolk in the middle. It is served in thin slices, so you can taste the slightly dried texture of the pork liver and egg yolk.

Smoked Pork Liver
Fried Pig Intestines ($7.50). Deep-fried pork intestines stuffed with leek. I like the crispy and crunchy texture of the pork intestines exterior, follow by the chewy interior. It is stuffed with leek, which introduced a sweet flavour into the dish.

Fried Pig Intestines
Fried Pig Intestines
Lalalala Fried Chicken ($22) – Chicken, Lala Clams, Fresh Sichuan Pepper, Green Chili. A popular dish retained from Basdban. This dish will not be out of place in a Fear Factor challenge, as half of the plate is filled with cut Sichuan chilli. Well, I manage to get a few bites of the chicken cubes, that are aromatic and crispy. For the lala, it is like digging into the landmines, as seeds of the chilli or peppercorn might be hidden behind it. Not the dish for me, but Sichuan or spicy food lovers will appreciate this.

Lalalala Fried Chicken 
Lalalala Fried Chicken 
Crispy Pork Dumplings ($6). Perfectly pan-fried pork dumplings, with a crispy base of the skin, bouncy upper part, filled with plump and juicy pork fillings. I ate the first one without the dipping sauce, I find it flavourful and very tasty. For the second piece, I tried with the dipping sauce, I find the spiciness level is manageable.

Crispy Pork Dumpling
The dumplings also come in a boiled version, Hot & Sour Pork Dumpling ($6). The dumplings are boiled and tossed with hot and sour sauce. The flavour is full-on sour and spicy.

Hot & Sour Dumplings
Braised Ox Tongue ($11) – Ox Tongue, Homemade Chilli Sauce. Nicely done, the texture of the ox tongue is tender with a bit of crunchiness. The homemade chilli sauce is not spicy, instead, it enhances the dish further.

Braised Ox Tongue
Next up is Guokui also known as pot helmet, a kind of flat bread originating from Shanxi cuisine. There are two versions of Guokui in SA, Guokui Liang Fei ($7) and Guokui with Braised Pork Belly ($8.50). The first is a vegetarian version, filled with liang fen (mung bean jelly noodles) and red chilli oil. I find the flavour is underwhelming. The guokui has a very dry texture, while the liang fen is silky but mushy. The red chilli oil gives a spicy flavour; however, it seems to be missing the savoury and umami flavour in this dish. I think they should add mushroom or bamboo shoots as filling to give it more bite.

Guokui Liang Fei
The Guokui with Braised Pork Belly is a different story. Filled with braised pork belly and chilli oil, it gave the dry bread the much-needed juiciness and umami flavour. I find it very comforting. Eating the Guokui, you must be ready to get your hand dirty.

Guokui with Braised Pork Belly
Guokui with Braised Pork Belly
Mini Hotpot ($14) – a medley of ingredients that contribute to the richness of texture and flavour in this dish. In the hotpot, it has Tiger Prawn, Potato, Bamboo Shoots, Black Fungus, Bean Sprout, Mushroom, Tofu and Liang Fen. It is a mini party in a bowl.

Mini Hot Pot
Mini Hot Pot
Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots ($9). The bamboo shoot is just mind-blowing. Crunchy, tasty and soaks up the gravy nicely. It is cooked with beef check, till the beef turned tender and melts in your mouth. In addition, the smoky flavour just elevates this dish further. A lovely “rice thief” dish.

Braised Ox Tongue
Braised Ox Tongue
We finally reach the noodle dishes, starting with President Rice Noodle ($24.50) - Beef Cheek, Pig Intestines, Pork Ribs, Mashed Peas, Vegetable, Coriander, spring onion, crispy chickpeas, rice noodles. This is the most luxurious noodle dish in SA. The rice noodle is smooth and silky, accompanied by three main protein dishes and topped with a lovely fried egg. The broth of the soup also comes in three options clear, red or mixed.

President Rice Noodle 
While the default is served in the soup version, I decided to make my dry version of the noodle. I took out a bit of noodle in a small bowl, then I ate it with braised beef cheek, pork ribs and braised intestines. It was packed with flavour and give a different flavour to the noodle.

The Noodle
The Noodle with the Ingredients
Mashed Peas Dan Dan Noodles ($13.50) – Mashed Peas, Minced Beef, Coriander, Thick Noodles. The noodle is thick, bouncy and crunchy. You mixed all the ingredients, it become like a version of mazesoba. Though the noodle comes with fresh chilli, I find the spiciness level is manageable.

Mashed Peas Dan Dan Noodles 
Mashed Peas Dan Dan Noodles Mixed 
Mushroom with Chicken Broth Rice Noodle ($11.50) – Clear, Chicken Broth, Mushroom, Spring Onion, Rice Noodle. A very comforting and healthy version of the noodle here. The rice noodle is silky and it soaks up the chicken broth very fast. Surprisingly, the noodle remains silky and did not become mushy. The clear broth is robust, packed with the essence of the chicken and mushroom. I also like the bamboo pith in this dish.

Mushroom with Chicken Broth Rice Noodle 
To cool down the fire at the end, I finish off with Black Plum Ice Tea ($8). It is refreshing with a combination of sweet and sour as well.

Black Plum Ice Tea
Cocktail - Bamboo Breeze
Chengdu Fizz
While there are no major changes in the furniture of Sichuan Alley, the décor has mellow. Instead of edgy and funky neon light, SA’s atmosphere is leaning towards zen, blending traditional elements such as the use of Chinese cloth fabric shade lighting and paintings of traditional costumes.

Part of the Indoor Dining Area
The Bar
The Decor
The Menu
Overall, I like the new version of Sichuan Alley. I feel the dishes served are more affordable, comforting and can be enjoyed regularly. I recommend the noodles, braised beef with bamboo shoots, mini hotpot and fried pig intestines. Cheers!!

Food & Drink: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 8/10
Budget per Person: $11 – $25;$26 - $50

Sichuan Alley
51 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 048441

T: +65 9755 1058
Mon – Fri: 10.30 – 22.00
Sat – Sun: 10.30 – 21.00
Menu available online

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