One of the best things that’s happened to Singapore’s dining scene this year is the opening of Shisen Hanten at Mandarin Orchard Singapore. Shisen Hanten (or Akasaka Szechwan Restaurant) is an establishment of great esteem, started in 1958 by the late Chen Kenmin who is regarded as Japan’s “Father of Sichuan Cuisine”.
A bit of history: Born in the Sichuan province of China, Chen Kenichi perfected his craft in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China before settling in Yokohama, Japan. The legacy is passed down to his eldest son, Chen Kenichi, who is one of Japan’s most celebrated iron chefs. To date, there are a total of 14 Shisen Hanten branches in six cities across Japan. Chen Kentaro, son of Chen Kenichi, picked up the tools of the trade through observing his father in the kitchen and learning by experience. He further honed his skills by working in Sichuan restaurants around the Sichuan province in China from 2005 to 2008.
Shisen Hanten at Mandarin Orchard Singapore is its first debut outside of Japan. The extensive menu features innovative and modern Sichuan cuisine, as well as dim sum favourites, seafood and all-time favourites (such as Ma Po Dou Fu, Gong Bao Ji Ding, La Zi Ji and more).
Set lunches are priced at $42++/$50++ per person. Set diners are priced at $68++/$98++/$138++ per person.
This August, Barbecue and Roast Master Chef Nobuyuki Sato presents a special line-up of signature duck specialties, which include the Shisen Hanten Roasted Duck ($16 per portion/$32 for half/$62 for whole), Szechwan Tea-smoked Duck ($16 per portion/$32 for half/$62 for whole), Osmanthus Pipa Duck ($32 for half/$62 for whole), Whole Duck stuffed with Hokkaido Rice and Goose Liver ($78 for whole), and Duo Braised Duck, Local and Hong Kong Styles ($20 feeds 2-3 pax/$30 feeds 4-6 pax/$60 feeds 7-10 pax).
Chef Kentaro travels to Singapore frequently to oversee the restaurant to ensure that quality remains at the high standards they’ve set. So fortunate to be able to meet him in person!
Osmanthus Pi-Pa Duck ($32 for half, $62 for whole)
Shisen Hanten serves Pi-Pa duck at its best. Coated in a sweet savoury glaze, the Osmanthus Pi-Pa Duck is roasted together with osmanthus flowers with aroma that seeps into the meat during the roasting process. The result is tender succulent meat with a floral hint. The accompanying osmanthus sauce may come across as overwhelming to some with its excessive sweetness and overly generous osmanthus specks. The meat itself needs no sauce –it’s perfect on its own.
Cold sliced jellyfish with sweet & sour sauce
While you’re there for the glorious roasted duck, don’t forget to check out the rest of dishes on the menu, which are equally impressive.
Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup ($28)
The Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup is a must-try. Multiple hidden layers include foie gras at the bottom followed by smooth silky chawanmushi, topped with a thick and chunky crab roe soup. Amazing.
Stewed fish fillet in super-spicy Szechwan pepper sauce ($26/$39/$52)
The stewed fish fillet in super-spicy Szechwan pepper sauce is another dish ubiquitous on any Sichuan restaurant menu. Tender succulent and thick slices of fish are served in a broth laced with spices. Here, the spice level is slightly toned down to cater to the constant stream of Japanese clientele.
Chen’s Mapodoufu “Stir-fried tofu in hot Szechwan pepper-flavour meat sauce served in Claypot ($20/$30/$40) is expertly done. One would usually consume Ma Po Dou Fu with plain rice. Here, rice is served in a stone bowl that’s topped with some vegetables and beansprouts. Chen’s Mapodoufu “Stir-fried tofu in hot Szechwan pepper-flavour meat sauce is poured over the rice and mixed up like a “bibimbap” (Korean mixed rice).
This ingenious way of eating Ma Po Dou Fu is oddly delicious and comforting.
Chen’s original spicy dry noodle ($12)
Another staple on the menu would be Chen’s original spicy dry noodle, tossed in an assertive sauce with bits of well-marinated minced meat.
Shisen Hanten truly impresses, with Sichuan cuisine executed with the finesse of Japanese cooking. Singaporeans are in for a treat.
The Roasted Duck Specialties menu by Master Chef Nobuyuki Sato is available for a limited time only from 12 August 2014 till the end of the month. For reservations, call 6831 6262/6266 or email email@example.com