Culinary genius and two-Michelin star chef Kentaro serves up phenomenal Sze Chuan cuisine at Shisen Hanten, a restaurant he affectionately dubs his ‘baby’. It’s the only one out of Japan, and it has a plethora of flavourful, mouth-watering (and numbing!) delights on offer! I’ve stepped behind the scenes to watch chef Kentaro work his magic, and you, my lucky reader, gets to join me!
First up: Stir-fried Boston Lobster with Chilli Sauce
The Boston lobsters are bought live and kept in a tank in the restaurant, so expect fresh lobster meat instead of the standard frozen fare! He starts off by gently coating both halves of the lobster in flour.
He then drops them into a wok of hot oil, swirling the wok gently and giving the oil a good stir to redistribute heat. The lobsters are removed in less than a minute.
Chef Kentaro then mixes in chili bean paste, tomato sauce, egg, garlic, ginger, onions, and vegetable oil and a little bit of water to form a thick, tasty broth. The briny crustaceans are then dropped in the mix.
They’re given a quick toss in the wok to soak up all the goodness of the sauce.
The lobsters are then served with mantou (fried Chinese buns) so you can mop up the delicious sauce and savour it even when you’re done with the lobster! The crustacean was fresh, succulent, and perfectly cooked, and even reminiscent of Singapore’s signature Chili Crab with its tangy, sweet, spicy and incredibly comforting taste.
Next up was ‘Chen’s Mapo Doufu’, stir-fried tofu in hot Szechuan pepper-flavoured meat sauce!
Chef Kentaro starts by adding dried chili, black beans, bean paste and a scoop of chili oil into an oiled wok.
He then adds in minced pork, and gives the wok a quick stir.
The tofu (that had been simmering in a wok of boiling water, along with a pinch of salt) is then added to the spicy sauce.
In goes some soy sauce, a generous amount of pepper, scallions, and finely chopped onions.
He gives it final stir with a touch more water, and there we have it…
Silky, soft, spicy perfection! The sauce was smokey and perfect with a bowl of rice, and had just the right amount of mouth-numbing kick. By far the best mapo tofu I’ve ever had.
I’ve had the pleasure of trying out their other goodies too, like their Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup. The chawanmushi base was silky and soft, and the taste of foie gras was distinct yet delicate – it complimented the dish perfectly without being overwhelming. The entire thing was topped with a phenomenal crab roe soup – slightly thick and viscous, quite like the consistency of shark’s fin soup, but filled with succulent chunks of crab meat and the umami flavour of roe. I wanted to lick the bowl clean – it was THAT good!
Next up is the wildly popular London Roast Duck,. You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you, but I assure you that it’s true: the London duck they served at Shisen Hanten was on par with the famous ones you can get at Goldmine & Four Seasons in London itself. Hear me out – I’ve never had duck as good as the ones I’ve had in London in my 23 long years in Singapore, so I wasn’t really expecting much (to be perfectly honest with you), but one bite took me right back to frolicking about under grey London skies. Slightly crunchy, crisp skin, tender and perfectly spiced meat, and an amazing explosion of flavours and textures. SO DELICIOUS. I was reaching for the sharing plate so often that I decided to just claim the entire thing as my own (after making sure my dining companions didn’t want any more, of course).
The Wok-Fried Turbot Fish with Shishito Peppers was fresh and tender, served fried and swimming in a delicious broth filled with green chili, bean sprouts and shishito peppers for a nice mouth-numbing kick. The broth was delicate and slightly spicy (and so good I decided to slurp some like soup after a while – I’m not the most glamourous dining companion, I admit) and perfectly highlighted the sweetness and freshness of the fish.
There is no better way to finish off a hearty meal than with a light, refreshing dessert – and the Cold Almond Pudding hits all the right notes! Silky smooth and slightly milky, just the thing you need to cool yourself down after a spicy, hearty meal.
Trust me when I say that the Singapore Michelin Guide was right when they bestowed Shisen Hanten with 2 Michelin stars… It really doesn’t get any better than this!
Find it at 333 Orchard Road Level 35, Mandarin Orchard Hotel Singapore, 238867
Book at table at Shisen Hanten and earn 2X Chope-Dollars with the code TASTYBLOG