the restaurant in singapore’s marina bay financial centre deserves a Michelin star just like its sister in Hong Kong
With the opening of Qi – House of Sichuan, Marina Bay Financial Centre is shaping up to be a foodie haven. The eatery, an offshoot of the Michelin-starred Hong Kong restaurant of the same name, is adjacent to Forbidden Duck.
Both restaurants are run by Hong Kong-based Liberty Group. The Group owns establishments like Liberty Exchange and the original Qi – House of Sichuan in the city. The latter has retained its one Michelin star rating there for the past three years running. But will it be able to pick up a star in Singapore?
After a media tasting last week, I dare say it deserves to do so. The food, prepared by chef Wuan Chun Kong – a Hong Kong native and disciple of head chef Wong Chun Fai – is authentic, thrilling, surprising and satisfying for the most part.
For the novice, the dishes are a wonderful introduction to the southwestern Chinese provincial cuisine. They showcase the region’s signature palate, made up of seven distinct flavours: aromatic, bitter, peppery, salty, sour, spicy and sweet. And because of chef Wuan’s background, there are Cantonese influences that will be familiar to local tastebuds.
For the veteran, the dishes are as authentic as they get. The restaurant imports all its spices from Sichuan, and makes its sauces and dressings in-house. Standard orders are served with a moderate amount of spice. But you can ask for more or less spice, depending on your tolerance level.
Of the eight dishes I sampled, two were passable while the other six were outstanding, warranting second helpings.
I found the Bang Bang Chicken in Spicy Peanut Sauce, a typical Sichuanese appetiser, rather unexceptional. The classic recipe calls for sesame sauce doused over tender, pulled chicken and shredded greens. But here a fragrant peanut sauce is used instead. However, it did not lend the dish as much depth as I had hoped. The Vegetarian String Beans, too, were fairly ho-hum, nothing you can’t find at a good zhi char eatery.
That being said, the Chili Oil Wontons were divine. Encased in a wonderfully thin, silky skin, the wontons were coated in a spicy, aromatic sauce concocted from chili oil, garlic and vinegar.
The complexity and aromas of the spices were also evident in the Chili Fried Sri Lanka Crab. This dish is a local speciality – in Hong Kong, Canadian crab is used instead. Fragrant too was the Slow-Cooked Black Angus Beef Short Ribs with Mala Sauce. The meat was tender, sweet and unctuous.
If you love beef – as I do – you’d do well to order the Sugar Glazed Ginger and Scallion Beef . Here was the Cantonese influence, a stir-fry done right. Glazed to perfection, yet not too sweet, the tender beef had just enough wok hei (“wok breath” or charred aroma).
The Braised Garoupa Fish Fillet in Chili Oil Soup was a fiery cauldron of goodness. This is another Singapore-exclusive: in Hong Kong, grass carp is served. Unlike typical Sichuanese soups, this one did not come with a layer of oil nor did it sport a murky brown colour. Rather, it was light on the oil with a consomme-like consistency, so flavourful that it could be guzzled on its own.
For dessert, the Red Bean Pancake doused the fire and provided the requisite (not too) sweet ending.
With reasonably-priced offerings for a hearty lunch, as well as more premium selections for entertaining clients, Qi – House of Sichuan seems poised to be a firm favourite with the office crowd. The 90-seater restaurant is also open on weekends, and is a pleasant stroll from Marina Bay Sands when the weather permits. Our advice? Make a day of it by taking a walk around The Promontory @ Marina Bay, then ending with a meal here.
Qi – House of Sichuan
8A Marina Boulevard
Marina Bay Link Mall
Tel: +65 6634 8277