Chinese cuisine has always been one of my favorites. I remember Mapo Tofu being one of my favorite Chinese dishes in a local restaurant. When I went to Chengdu China and ate at Chen’s Mapo Tofu where the dish actually originated, I realized that the Mapo Tofu here is worlds apart from the original one. Since then, I haven’t tasted anything close to it or any of the Sichuan dishes I tried in Chengdu. That is, until I went back to Singapore’s Chinatown Food Street and found some restaurants that offer something close to what I remembered.
It’s always a delight to walk through Smith Street also known as the Food Street in Singapore’s Chinatown. While there are many restaurants here, we zeroed in on a restaurant called Hometown. Their exterior is something I would regularly just pass by and the small interiors are simple though clean. Despite its basic setup, people rave about the Sichuan food here.
And yes, we did order Chengdu’s staple dish, the Mapo Tofu. And it was so good that it seems to have brought me back to Chengdu for the moment. It has the right sweetness and almost jaw-numbing spiciness I liked. The tofu blocks were cut in the right size and there were whole Sichuan peppers which I tried to avoid as one bite would surely numb my taste buds. But there is that certain kick in flavor missing compared to the one in Chengdu though this has to be the closest I can get to the taste I’ve come to like.
Then, there’s the Sichuan Spicy Chicken with chunks of chicken clumped together with bits of chili pepper. You really have to dig through to get right into the chicken. It was spicy good but not as flavorful as the ones in Sichuan. I guess that’s because they deboned the chicken here to make it a lot easier to eat. In Sichuan, the chicken is cooked, bones and all, since the meat closer to the bones is tastier. This one is still good though.
Aside from Hometown’s Sichuan dishes, there are Singapore favorites as well at Food Street. Everyone loves satay in Singapore. We ordered a meal costing only SG$ 6 for 10 sticks of Satay with Peanut Sauce at City Satay. We made sure we had beef, chicken and lamb in the mix. They were all flavorful and tender though I prefer the beef which I find tastier even sans the peanut sauce.
For a semblance of dessert, we had peanut soup from the Ah Balling Peanut Soup stall. For SG$ 2, I got a hot bowl of peanut soup with five types of filled rice balls — Peanut, Green Tea, Sesame, Red Bean and Yam. This dessert is best served hot as you let the rice balls melt on your tongue and let the filling ooze. My favorite of course is the peanut followed by the sesame. For dessert, it’s quite heavy but offers good value for the money.
No 25-25A Smith Street (Food Street), Singapore
Stall #2 Smith Street
Ah Balling Peanut Soup
Stall #3 Smith Street (There are other branches across Singapore)