The Place Located at the corner end of the second level of the brand new OUE Downtown Gallery in Tanjong Pagar, Michelin-starred Shisen Hanten‘s casual dining concept Chen’s Mapo Tofu is definitely a must go for fans of Szechuan cuisine. The restaurant is named after Chef Chen Kentaro, therefore, Chen’s.
Small space with perhaps just 30 seats, it’s done with a fast food concept in mind. Diners make their orders before being ushered to their table, and orders collected from the kitchen window when their order number gets pinged by the large screen monitor mounted at the side of the window. Simple setup within a small space, though we wouldn’t have mind if the space was larger considering the long queues during the weekday lunch time when we visited. You have been warned, arrive early to avoid the queues.
The Food It’s Japanese-Szechuan food, or Szechwan as spelt by the restaurant. If you have had a meal at Shisen Hanten previously, you would definitely have savoured one of their signature dishes – Mapo Tofu.
At Chen’s, they have refined this side dish as the main highlight of the restaurant, the signature Mapo Don (S$8.80, Set S$9.80). It is basically Mapo Tofu atop a bowl of Japanese Rice, on point with spiciness level acceptable to most – although there is definitely room to increase the Szechuan peppercorn to give it more of the mala flavour. If you go for the set, it encompasses a drink, either Calamansi or Herbal Tea, and a small side of Szechwan pickles. We recommend going for the value-for-money set, as it is not a bad idea to have some iced cold drink to soothe the mala taste. Despite being someone whom doesn’t deal with spices well, I couldn’t resist myself from enjoying this Mapo Don while breaking into small drops of perspiration.
Another signature dish here is the Dan Dan Mien (S$8.80) which comes in both dry and soup renditions. We went for the more authentic dry noodles, and enjoyed the peanut butter flavours quite strongly here, with the spicy level here seemingly taken a dip. There is another set on the menu, which gives you half-sized Mapo Don and half-sized Dan Dan Mien (S$10.80) along with a drink. For first timers here, this is an ideal option to enjoy the best of both worlds.
We couldn’t resist ordering another of the popular bites here, the Szechwan Popcorn Chicken (S$4.00). This side dish is akin to popcorn chicken, except that this is not your typical KFC version as it is marinated lightly with Szechwan spices, and made more awesome by the crisp skin of the meats. I have yet to try the other sides here at Chen’s, but for now, I am not sure if I can resist not ordering this the next time!
Rants Well, Chen’s deserve more seats. Or perhaps another outlet?
Will I Return Again? Chen’s Mapo Tofu is a good addition to the OUE Downtown Gallery. The restaurant is spot on for its pricing, awesome food and good service. We will return for sure.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Chen’s Mapo Tofu
6A Shenton Way
Downtown Gallery #02-29
Daily 11am to 10pm
Ranted by The Rantee