“Appreciating Szechuan cuisine with a Japanese palate”
Established in 1958 by the ‘Father of Szechuan cuisine’ late Chen Kenmin, Shisen Hanten has been Japan’s best loved Szechuan restaurant. The family business expanded throughout Japan under the lead of ‘Iron Chef’ Chen Kenichi. Passing on the family legacy to Chen Kentaro, Shisen Hanten’s first venture out of Japan is located at Mandarin Orchard Singapore.
With the high ceilings, velvet curtains and elegant chandeliers, the restaurant exudes grandeur and glamor. Experienced staff and managers that delivered great service to the guests. The restaurant is very popular with Japanese businessmen and families.
The red baccarat crystal is representative of Shisen Hanten’s signature decor. You’ll see it in various fixtures around the restaurant.
Sesame Cold Steamed Chicken ($20, small). Shredded chicken meat coated with gravy full of sesame oil and chive fragrance. A little heavy for an appetizer, delicious nonetheless.
Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup ($28). Chef Chen Kentaro Specialties which change every month. Available only in the month of June. When I saw the menu ‘Foie Gras Chawanmushi’, I kind of expected a piece of Foie gras on top of chawanmushi, which turned out completely different from the image in my mind. Foie Gras is blended into the egg custard so that every mouth has a distinct umami foie gras taste, an intriguing combination with the crab roe and shredded crab meat.
Sauteed Chilli Pepper and Chicken ($33, medium). As someone with a low tolerance for spice, this dish is moderately spicy and peppery. Coated with Hokkaido potato flour and deep fried, these bite-sized treats are strangely addictive.
Stewed Fish Fillet in Super-hot Szechuan Pepper Sauce ($26, small). It looks extremely spicy from the dried red chilli. Surprisingly it is not as spicy as the chicken earlier.
The Szechuan pepper (huajiao) is intensely fragrant, the soup is not overwhelming peppery leaving only slight tingling sensation on the tongue. Unlike traditional mala fish soup that is too spicy and greasy to drink, I was able to enjoy it as a soup. The use of sea perch fillet, mung beansprout and Japanese cucumber makes the dish pleasantly delightful. Biting into the Szechuan pepper will give your tongue a sour, numbing sensation, so do take caution. I obviously share from first-hand experience.
Browned String Beans and Ground Pork ($18). Flavorful minced meat but otherwise a rather ordinary dish.
Stir-fried Prawn with Chilli Sauce ($30). A spinoff of chilli crab to appeal to our local palate, the sauce is nothing spectacular but the prawns were huge and gives ample satisfaction with every bite. The fried buns were really well done with the right crisp outside and fluffy interior.
Chen’s Mapo Doufu ($20, small). Stir-fried tofu in hot Szechuan pepper-flavored meat sauce served with Hokkaido rice. It is really not as spicy as it looks, the aroma is very tantalizing probably from the broad bean chilli paste (doubanjiang) that has been fermented for three years. The Japanese clean cooking method has managed to make this dish a lot less oily than the traditional Sze Chuan version, yet still retain it’s full spicy flavour. One of the must-try signatures dishes at Shisen Hanten.
Cold Almond Pudding ($8). I really enjoyed this almond pudding, it has that extra tinge of creamy and luxurious taste as compared to typical almond jelly served in Chinese restaurants.
Aloe Vera and Lemongrass Jelly with Calamansi Sherbet ($6). A refreshing palate cleanser after all the overwhelming flavors Szechuan cuisine provides. Like other restaurants at Mandarin Orchard, Shinsen Hanten creates dishes using quality ingredients and takes pride in providing the best experience for its guest. Shisen Hanten triumphs in integrating the bold flavors of Szechuan cuisine with ingenious refinement, appealing to a global palate.
Many of the dishes can have their spice levels adjusted, so tweak it according to your spice tolerance.
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