Thursday, October 26, 2006

Szechuan Court, Raffles the Plaza

Szechuan Court is located on the 3rd floor of Raffles the Plaza. The placement of the restaurant entrance isn't very visible to pedestrians, it can be found in one of the passageways in the middle of the mall which also leads to Inagiku. It was unfortunate that I didn't get the red curtained dining booths from my reservations, but if I do ever re-visit, I'll remember to specifically request for those which look to provide a pleasant semi-private ambience.

This restaurant offers a decent selection of chinese cuisine. I'm not sure if these are specifically Szechuan, but I did note some signs of fusion like the use of edamame, Boston Lobsters and red wine. So I guess it's not a totally traditional place here. Service here is just acceptable. It also sees the common problem of having servers that purposely avert their eyes from customers as they brisk past in the pretentiously busy pace. I noted that the captains avoided this behavior and appeared to be more observant, though cooly polite. Also they serve a wild chrysanthemum tea in this place that taste distinctively different from the normal ones. Comes with flower buds in the tea.

The below dishes were dinner for 4 tonight.

Thick soup of pumpkin with prawn and water chestnut served in pumpkin

I don't know what's with the last part of the name of this dish, but you can see that it certainly is not served in a pumpkin. In any case, the soup is pretty decent with a hint of the pumpkin flavor. The 'thick' from the name of the soup comes from starch added into the soup making it viscous. There are some small chunks of prawn and chestnut in the soup. For $15, I think I'm not being unreasonable to expect more prawns in soup. And it arrived lukewarm. Would have been great piping hot. Yes, I'm complaining.

Spinach with 3 eggs

This dish is not available on the menu. It's basically stewed spinach with egg, century egg and salted duck egg. It tastes pretty much the same as the ones available in everywhere else. This place has larger cut up pieces of the eggs. The broth in the dish is a little saltish and rich tasting.

Spicey pine seed fried rice with minced mushrooms, asparagus, bamboo shoots and raisins

This fried rice does come a little spicy which helps in rousing the taste buds. It comes from the vegetarian section of the menu. At $16 dollars, this is actually the small portion recommended for about 4 persons. The rice is a little greasy and apart from the ingredients which are not so generally used in "regular" fried rice, there isn't really much to mention of it. I generally like fried rice so I think it was pretty decent on the whole. I managed to get 2 helpings of it so I guess it isn't too bad.

Szechuan smoked duck with camphor wood and fragrant tea leaves

I was told that this place has one of the better Szechuan smoked ducks locally. So that kinda establishes for me that smoked duck around here isn't of any particular difference from roasted ones. For one, this tastes like regular roasted duck with difference only in the texture and crisp of the skin. There is no taste of tea leaves (let alone fragrance) nor was it camphor ish in any manner, whatever it may mean. So what you get is fairly tasty smoked duck that is accompanied by rather cute looking clam shaped buns (akin to those used for kong ba pau), which really cannot be used to wrap any of the duck meat effectively. Look at how it works out if you try. The meat of the duck retained enough moisture and wasn't too dry and is actually fairly tender too. Otherwise, it isn't remarkable and a bit pricey at $28 for half a duck.

Deep fried cod with superior sauce

This cod is actually one of the more memorable dish, unanimously agreed to be one of the highlight of the night. The skin of the fish was crispy and fragrant. The exterior of the fried fish possesses the same level of crispiness with the insides retaining the moisture and tenderness which is not the norm of my experience with deep fried fishes that tend to have dry meat. It however is also quite expensive. The picture above features a double portion and single portions cost $18 a piece. It was however, a very good piece of fried cod. The only complain I have about this dish is the described superior sauce which really taste like regular soy sauce to me.

Edamame stir fried with prawn, scallop and sweet turnip

I was thinking of whole prawns and scallops stir fried with this, but I guess it was not to be. The ingredients are diced and stir fried together with water chestnut, chilli slices and mushroom. The dish is slightly greasy mildly spicy. Despite that, it has a very light touch to it and was on the whole quite good. The portions were also dainty for 4 persons.

Red bean pancake

And here's the red bean pancak, a rather common dessert in Chinese restaurants. This one comes very densely packed with sesame seeds on the very light pastry top layer of skin which breaks apart quite easily. There is a secondary layer which is softer and oilier wrapping hot fillings of red bean paste. Apart from the more generous amount of sesame seeds on the crust, this is quite the normal red bean pancake.

The bill for dinner for 4. One can conceivably order something else different from the menu and have the bill easily doubled or even tripled. And UOB cards get you 15% off the bill so arm yourself.

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