Tian Bao Szechuan Kitchen – Taste of Sichuan at Ngee Ann City
At Tian Bao Szechuan Kitchen, a new restaurant on the fifth-storey of Ngee Ann City, the heat is almost always on, and it comes at you in different ways. Sometimes, it hits you with full blast on first bite. Sometimes, you feel it’s okay initially but the heat slowly builds up.
Upon entering the restaurant, look up the ceiling and you will be greeted with beautiful stacks of steamer baskets. The tables are nicely spaced so it’s good for private conversation with friends while having a meal.
Working hand in hand with many renowned food and beverage groups in China, Tian Bao is the grand F&B venture in Singapore by its Chinese parent company. That is why they are more than confident to call their food unparalleled in taste and style.
What Tian Bao offers, is the most authentic way of cooking Szechuan food, yet they will certainly surprise you in their wonderful tastes and flavours. The menu sprawls to more than 50 selections, and focuses on Sichuan, with some nods to other Chinese traditions as well. A cold appetizer of Tender Chicken Slices with Noodles ($9.80) logs in a smooth chilli oil was refreshing and the hit of the meal.
I’ve been having a run of disappointing spicy wonton dishes, but I actually enjoyed the ones here. Wanton in Chili Sauce ($8.60/6pcs) is slippery smooth. You won’t easily feel enough because the well-balanced chilli sauce helps cut through the meat wrapped in dumplings. Mind you that it might get you hooked.
The classics are honored: Tian Bao Szechuan Dan Dan Noodle (Dry, $8.80) arrives in layers, pale and pristine noodles beneath a rubble of ground pork, with that immortal sauce of chilli oil and ground roasted Sichuan pepper, waiting to be churned together. The first taste is shockingly light, as if there were no chilli oil at all, and still it explodes.
Don’t be intimidated by Vermcelli with Braised Beef and Bamboo Shoots ($13.60). It wasn’t as spicy as it looks. The chunks of beef brisket were tender and the bamboo shoots were more crunchy than tender.
Sichuan’s inimitable heat is a big part — for me, the main part — of what makes this cuisine such a riveting adventure. My favourite dish for the meal was Boiled Deep Sea Fish Fillet in Spicy Sauce ($22.80). There were generous silvers of fillet. The stock is spiced with fresh red chilli, dried chilli and peppercorns. It’s fickle, tricky, fierce. It can light a match to your tongue, numb your lips, snap you to attention and do a job on your stomach that lasts a good long while. Brace yourself for some serious heartburn!
For less daring eaters, the more familiar Chinese fare is also quite good. Tian Bao Steamed Small Pau with Pork ($9.80/6 pcs). The delicate dumplings are comfortingly warm and filled with well-marinated minced pork and a rich stock. When popped whole, the xiao long bao brings a full burst of flavours and you don’t even need the vinegar or ginger.
It is easy to make a fetish of Sichuan cuisine’s numbing heat, but balanced meal requires soothing desserts, like the beautiful Pearly & Purple Sweet Potato Ball with Peanut Filling ($6.80/4 pcs), Glutinous Rice Cake with Cream Filling ($6 / 4 pcs) and Premium Black Sugar Ice Jelly with Osmanthus ($3.80).
Tian Bao Szechuan Kitchen
Address: 391 Orchard Road, #05-06/07 Ngee Ann City Podium Block,
Singapore 238872 (beside Best Denki at Level 5)
Tel: 6734 4216
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