Chengdu Bowl in Tanjong Pagar has legit Sichuan food
There’s a new food spot to hit up in Tanjong Pagar, and it’s not for Korean food—Chengdu Bowl is the new kid on the block and they’ve got legit Sichuan-style food on the menu. Brought to life by the team behind NUMB Restaurant, Chengdu Bowl is a multi-concept eatery that offers Sichuan tapas, mains, as well as the grain bowls that some might be familiar with from their takeout-only shop.
Food at Chengdu Bowl
Since we’d never had their grain and noodle bowls previously, we started with a trio of Signature Stir-Fried Ox Tongue Bowl ($13.80++/$15.90++), Savory Braised Beef Noodle ($14.80++), and Sichuan Dan Dan Noodle Delight ($12.80++).
Most of these bowls are formulated to come loaded with a Sichuan-style main dish with six sides, atop a base of rice or noodles, plus Chengdu Bowl’s secret sauce.
In the case of Signature Stir-Fried Ox Tongue Bowl, the bed of pearl rice is topped with corn, edamame, beancurd skin, shredded carrot, potato chunks, meaty oyster mushroom, and the highlight of ox tongue.
Ox tongue is a tricky cut to perfect, and I’d say that Chengdu Bowl does it pretty well. It’s super tender, without any gaminess, and well-seasoned too without being obtrusively spicy—for a non-mala lover like me, this was very enjoyable. Dip it into their secret sauce, a bright, green pepper concoction, or simply mix it all into the bowl.
I also found myself enjoying their Savory Braised Beef Noodle, with a robust, beefy broth that did lean a little bit greasy.
Their noodle dishes star spinach noodles, which add colour to the bowl. They’re working on adding more noodle options down the line, but don’t let the idea of spinach in your noods put you off—they don’t taste green at all.
Kudos to them for nailing the texture of the braised beef; these came in generous chunks, cooked to tender ends and with gelatinous bits throughout.
For a dry noodle option, consider Sichuan Dan Dan Noodle Delight, which does get a tad clumpy if you don’t mix it right away. The sauce mix here is nutty and fragrant, and was saved from being too thick and heavy by the shredded fresh vegetables in the bowl. There’s minced meat too, which makes it a pretty balanced, quick meal.
Wang’s Sichuan Dumplings in Red Chilli Oil ($10.80++) star vegetable and pork dumplings in a piquant, spicy oil mix. There’s a touch of vinegar here too, but I would have liked more of its appetising tartness to balance out the chilli oil.
I found myself enjoying the Sichuan Spiced Mouthwatering Spicy Chicken ($13.80++), or 口水鸡 (kǒu shuǐ jī), because the flavour of Sichuan pepper was not the dominant one here. It was much subtler, taking a back seat to that of sesame oil, while coriander and roasted peanut added crunch, freshness, and that distinctive earthiness.
Everything on this plate was thoroughly tossed in the spicy oil mix, with sliced leek and fresh coriander cutting through the heavy oils.
The pièce de résistance of the menu is Flaming Beer Roasted Duck ($36.80++), served to the table on a stovetop burner. Then, a can of beer is popped and added to the pot, followed by 白酒 (bái jiǔ) that’s set on fire and poured over the dish.
You’ll find beer duck everywhere in Sichuan, but at Chengdu Bowl, they take that up a notch by using roast duck, lending the resulting gravy an additional boost of flavour. Copious amounts of ginger and onion are first fried in the pan, before the roast duck and chillies are layered on.
Let this bubble for a bit for the beer and gravy to cook into the contents of the pot. I’d also advise digging deep into the pot when you’re dishing this up, or you risk ending up with a whole lot of oil in your mouth. I wished the pieces of duck came without bones, but more than that, I found it hard to enjoy this with all the oil—it got in the way of truly appreciating the flavour of the lightly herbaceous gravy.
I enjoy lok lok, so I was pretty excited to see Classic Spicy Assorted Skewers in Red Chilli Oil ($16.80++). This, like the Flaming Beer Roasted Duck, was too oily for me, though I admit this abundance of spicy oil is true to the cuisine. The ingredients on the skewers were fresh and not cooked to death, however, so they retained their integrity and natural flavour in spite of the heavy-tasting, pretty spicy and numbing dip they came in.
My dining companion simply could not help himself when it came to the Classic Spicy Chilli Chicken with Fries ($24.80++) at Chengdu Bowl. In between fanning his mouth and shaking his head at the impending stomachache, he kept picking at the addictive pieces of fried chicken in their take on 辣子鸡 (là zǐ jī). At Numb Restaurant, this is served with fried dough twists, but Chengdu Bowl takes a more contemporary approach, replacing them with crinkle-cut fries.
It’s a little bit of a treasure hunt for the tasty nibbles of fried chicken, buried under an intimidating lot of dried chilli. Sesame seeds are also strewn throughout, adding a light touch of nuttiness, but be warned that some are not, in fact, white sesame but chilli seeds, which will burn.
I found myself mowing through this on the hunt for fried chicken, and while I did try the fries, didn’t find them as addictive as the chicken—the fries, though tasty, got soggy quite quickly, whereas the chicken remained crisp and had more bite.
If you get four of their tapas dishes, they might come served on a platter as ours did: we had Sichuan Braised Spicy Quail Eggs ($7.80++), Spicy Kelp Delight ($6.80++), Strange Flavoured Peanuts ($5.80++) and Succulent Braised Pork Belly Tapas ($9.80++). They’re all designed for grazing, with punchy sweet, savoury and spicy notes.
Another tapas dish you could consider is Spicy Barbecued Dried Tofu ($9.80++), which sees cubes of chewy, tough beancurd tossed in a spicy, dry sauce mix. This was not a hit with either of us for both its texture and flavour, but could possibly work for those enjoying this with guzzles of ice-cold beer.
Ambience at Chengdu Bowl
Located just two minutes away from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station, or four minutes on foot from Maxwell MRT Station, Chengdu Bowl is super central. There are, however, only 30 seats in the tastefully decorated space. It’ll be a bit of squeeze when tables are fully committed, but it adds to the vibe.
There are also a small number of bar seats if you’re just looking to have finger food with your cocktails in the evening.
I’m not a fan of mala, nor was I a Sichuan pepper convert after my meal at Chengdu Bowl. If you like such flavours and Sichuan cuisine, this would be right up your alley. Their grain and noodle bowls are also a nice change from the usual salads and healthy options, especially if you work around the area and are looking for something different.
Just a few doors down from Chengdu Bowls is Champion Bolo Bun, which still sees queues for their Hong Kong-style pineapple buns. Otherwise, a short stroll in the opposite direction is Elijah Pies‘ first-ever cafe!
Address: 120 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088532
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am to 3pm, 5pm to 10pm, Sat 11am to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm
Tel: 9460 1960
Chengdu Bowl is not a halal-certified eatery
Photos taken by Ke-ian J Leong.
This was a media tasting at Chengdu Bowl.