Tian Bao Szechuan Restaurant: Singapore Chinese Food Review

A wholesome, genuine taste of Szechuan culture.

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The restaurant carries an ambience that reflects very vividly, a Chinese imperial setting. The entrance of the place greets me with an antique era, of which the intricately-designed signboard and wood carvings along the sides of the doorframe indubitably portray the legitimacy of genuine, traditional Chinese imperial palace setting.

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A more out of sight, unique adornment of the interior of the restaurant is the arrangement of Dim Sum baskets to fill up the centre-space of the ceiling, of which patrons dine under the cosy, homely atmosphere likened to that of a Chinese parlour.

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High-Altitude Natural Buckwheat Tea ($3.00)

Harvested from the plantings upon the tall mountains belonging to the Szechuan province, buckwheat is high in fibre. Recommended by the waitress, buckwheat tea is the best choice of beverage for one’s dining experience at this restaurant.

Compared to the other options, this tea is able to help degrease and aid one’s digestion after a spicy, oily and heavily-flavoured Szechuan meal.

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Tian Bao Szechuan Dan Dan Noodle (Dry) ($8.80)

Contrary to the lightly-flavoured, tomato-sauced based Taiwanese Dan Dan Noodle which most folks have tried, a separate, small bowl of soup is paired with this dry version of Dan Dan Noodle. Optional, but mandatory for the weak tolerator of spice.

The noodles seemed to have been in immersed in a thick trough of oil. Texture is on the thicker side, doughy side, which Singaporeans are probably not used to. Luckily, the spiciness has covered a slight bit of the overdose of oil.

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Stir-Fry Pork Strips with Special Soy Bean Sauce ($12.80)

This dish pretty much resembles the traditional Chinese kong bak pau. I feel that it is in fact, a healthier version of kong bak pau. The use of pork strips instead of flabby pork belly exudes a crisp, sweet flavour that is enhanced by the soy bean sauce.

In order to highlight the taste of the special soy bean sauce with pork strips, the “pau skin” served alongside with the dish is thin and plain in taste. Hence making it a savouring dish when combined, which is not too greasy, yet very tasty.

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Tian Bao Steamed Small Pau with Pork ($9.80)

With a slightly larger circumference compared to the more commonly known Xiao Long Bao in Hong Kong Dim Sum menus, I was surely amazed by humongous amount of fillings each of these Tian Bao “small pau” contained. The minced meat mix is surely different from the usual Shanghai version, having more a gelatinous texture and less pork.

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White Seafood Wanton with Bamboo Shoots ($9.60)

For the seafood lover, this dish is a perfect blend of chewy whole prawns and well-cooked cuttlefish strips, served with thick pieces of wanton. The ingredients make the soup stock very rich, giving an immense sense of comforting satisfaction. Moreover, the cuttlefish gives the soup a special sweet fragrance, a soup-base which is smooth in texture, one which is well simmered, flavourful and not too thick.

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Cold-Stir Eggplant Strips with Cooked Chili Spread ($6.80)

Am personally not a fan of eggplants, brinjals nor stem-based vegetables. I decided to give the dish a try. To my delight, it was not as bland as I had thought eggplants to be. The sauce gives the soft-textured eggplant a salty, lingering aftertaste.

This has changed my perception of the vegetable, and I am more motivated to try out different dishes cooked from eggplants, thanks to Tian Bao’s wonderful introduction to the food item.

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Steamed Glass Dumpling with Pork & Spinach Filling ($8.80)

Termed “shao mai” a.k.a siew mai by the restaurant, it is surprising that this Szechuan snack treat is vastly different from the siew mai of the Hong Kong variety. The amount of spinach overly outweighs the scanty bits of pork.

Nonetheless, this delicacy gives a good taste when dipped in Chinese vinegar. Serving is very much generous, with the size of each shao mai being about one-and-a-half times that of the commonly known Hong Kong Dim Sum siew mai.

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Maize Leaf Steamed Rice Dumpling ($4.00)

I should say this is the most delectable Szechuan Dim Sum dish served at this restaurant. Miniature in size, the rice dumpling has a silky smooth surface texture which glistens under the restaurant lights.

Two bites was just enough for me to savour this piece of fragrant delicacy. Blamed with the aroma of the maize leaf wrapped around it, the rice bits along with its smooth texture indeed offers a delightful pleasure to the tongue and the palate.

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Sweet & Spicy Prawn Balls in Smooth Szechuan Sauce ($18.80)

Living up to its dish name and description, the sauce base of this dish gives an inviting, silky texture to the already well-balanced flavour of the prawn balls. The prawns are large and succulent, and every chew of it releases tiny, rhythmical squirts of sleek oil that oozes and complements wells with it.

Gungho eaters may pair their prawn bites with the pieces of dried “ma la”, i.e. numbing and spicy chili, which have been stir-fried together with the prawn pieces. Nothing to lose for the precautionary spice-fearer, as the prawn pieces and the perfectly blended sauce are sure to give you a wholesome combination of taste — a terrific coalescence of sweet, spicy and slightly sour taste.

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Boiled Deep Sea Fish Fillet in Spicy Sauce ($22.80)

A definite avoidance for the faint-hearted for spicy food. Just by lifting a piece of fillet reveals it being coated with the Szechuan spicy chili oil, and that was enough to make me gasp for a breath of air to alleviate the numb and piercing sensation caused by the level of chilli spice.

The fish fillets are are thick in slices, and have a taste of fresh ocean catch. This is considered one of the main dishes being served, a must-try for the Szechuan restaurant goer. Just be prepared and gear yourself up for the numbing tanginess the dish awaits you.

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Glutinous Rice Cake with Fruity Cream Filling ($6.00)

With a velvety smooth and slightly powdery texture, these mouthful-sized rice cakes are a pleasant greeting. Each piece of white glutinous rice cake sits on a patterned cupcake paper case and the entire dish is served with four pieces of the rice cakes lined up in a long, rectangular plate.

Cutting open a piece of the rice cake reveals a thick, condensed filling made up of cream and tiny apple bits. Each piece melts into a fluffy, marshmallow texture upon touching the tongue and the cream gives a sweet taste.

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Premium Black Sugar Ice Jelly with Osmanthus ($3.80) 

This dish is indeed a delightful sight, as it is indeed healthy and cooling, apart from all the mains and side dishes. It is another food item on the menu that has very good health benefits, apart from the buckwheat tea.

I was enlightened with the fact that osmanthus has the ability to enrich the blood. Its pairing with the sweet-tasting sugared ice jelly gives the osmanthus a rejuvenating sense of relish to the palate.

Definitely a delightful dessert to complement all the oil and spice of the dishes served at this restaurant, making it a good round-up for the dining experience here.

Come experience a bona-fide and invigorating experience of Szechuan dining. Founded by a true blue Szechuan citizen, you will be assured of Tian Bao’s authenticity and street offerings that are seemingly unusual to Singapore.

*Promotion: For every $20 spent in your dining, receive a $10 voucher which is redeemable upon your next visit. Valid for dine-in use from Monday to Friday, including Public Holidays and Eves of Public Holidays.

Expected Damage: $20 – $30 per pax

Tian Bao Szechuan Kitchen: 391 Orchard Road, #05-06/07 Ngee Ann City Podium Block, Singapore 238872 | Tel: +65 6734 4216 | Website | opening hours: mon-fri: 11.30am-10pm, sat, sun & public holiday: 11am-10pm (last order at 9.15pm daily)

*This post was brought to you in partnership with Tian Bao Szechuan restaurant