Originating from Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China, the five-month-old Si Wei Yan restaurant aims to change the perceptions that Singaporeans typically have, about Sichuan cuisine.
Explained Li Si Si, 38, the Owner of Si Wei Yan, “Our restaurant is for foodies who are adventurous and willing to try out what Sichuan cuisine is truly like. And the objective of this restaurant is to correct people’s normal perceptions of Sichuan food – which is associated with spiciness, numbness and oily stuff. In Sichuan, we can also prepare and plate dishes in a delicate way – in fact, our restaurant focuses on delicate Sichuan cuisine.”She added, “Our cuisine is not as oily or spicy, and our portions are not as huge as that of other outlets. We also have a few dishes that are the signature inventions of our chef.”
Trying the Mother’s Day Menu at Si Wei Yan
Together with my mother, I had been recently invited to a media tasting of Si Wei Yan’s Mother’s Day Menu.
My initial impressions about Mothers Day is that it is typically a Western occasion, but Li corrected that misconception as well. Explained Li, “Actually Chinese do celebrate Mother’s Day as well – and we thought that Mother’s Day is a good chance for children to bond with their mothers. So we came up with a special set to cater to parents and children, as well as to encourage family gatherings and reunions.”
How were the dishes for the Mother’s Day Menu selected, though? Said Li, “These ones are some of the more popular items at the restaurant. We also mix up spicy and non-spicy items to give diners a variety of dishes.”
My mum and I were served with the Mother’s Day Menu for two people. Priced at $128++ (for two to three pax), this comprised of eight dishes, including a dessert. Depending on the size of your group, though, there are also larger Mother’s Day Menus for parties up to nine pax.
Here are my comments on the dishes that we had.
Mixed Vegetables in Spicy Sichuan SauceThis dish comprises of black fungus, chicken feet and potato prepared in a special spicy Sichuan sauce and is served as a cold appetiser. I really like the appearance of this dish and thought it was quite artistic – the item was placed in a mug-like container with the pieces served on sticks like satay.
Said Li, “This is a type of cuisine from Chengdu. It’s a brother of Sichuan steamboat – a lot of people have tried the steamboat, but this one’s in cold soup.”
Upon picking up a piece and tasting this, I could detect a very strong, spicy chilli flavour almost immediately. There was also a hint of sesame used in the broth, together with some other flavours that I could not quite place.
In short, this item had a very unusual and interesting taste – that’s different to most Sichuan food that I have had. And Mum agreed with me.
Chicken in chilli oil with spices
This dish too, was quite artistic – the chicken had been diced into small pieces and topped with minced chilli and other spices. Altogether there are five types of chillies in this dish, including Sichuan chilli and home-made (pickled) green chilli.
Said Li, “The chilli in this dish has been flown in by air from Sichuan. It’s a special type of chilli from Chengdu. It’s fragrant, sweet and very edible.”
On tasting the dish, the spicy note hits the mouth immediately and it lingers on for a while. For the chicken meat itself, I thought that some bits were a little dry, but to my mum, she had said that the meat was ok. I felt that the strong chilli flavour had helped to mask and make up for any minor shortcomings in terms of the chicken though.
Pig Trotter with home-made green chilli
As the name suggests, this pork dish is prepared with green chilli and plenty of vegetables, including spring onions and cucumbers – and the meat had been deboned.
Said Li, “The selling point of this dish is the home-made green chilli, and the special slightly burnt taste to bring out the flavours.”
When I tried this item, I found some parts of the pork to be moist and soft, thanks to a bit of fat in the dish, but other parts were a little on the dry side. But the gravy, which had a spicy kick that awakened the taste buds and made up for a little dryness in the meat.
SiWei Signature Fish
This is a simple fish dish served with tofu, veggies and black fungus. There is a spicy and a non-spicy option. We had the non-spicy version.
Said Li, “This is fish in sour soup and is a traditional dish from Sichuan. It’s very popular amongst our customers who prefer to have non-spicy choices.”
I really enjoyed this dish and it was possibly my favourite of the meal. The fish slices were soft and moist, and the soup tasted not only sour, but it also had a salty and slightly herbal note to it, which I liked. The veggies and the black fungus also not only added to the flavour of the soup, but also to the texture. In short, I thought this was a very nourishing yet delicious dish and I would certainly not hesitate to have it again at this restaurant.
My mum had also enjoyed this dish.
This dish is not spicy or hot.
Steamed eggplant with home-made sauce
One of the two vegetable dishes on the Mother’s Day menu, the eggplant is topped with a generous helping of sauce containing minced meat and chilli.
Said Li, “We have a few toppings to choose from, and this one is minced meat with minced chilli. We also have another version with spicy chilli.”
This dish was very tasty, with a slightly spicy note to it. At the same time it also left a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth, thanks to the combination of the different flavours.
Stir-fried asparagus with lily bulbs
As the name suggests, this is a simple dish consisting of asparagus, stir-fried together with lily bulbs.
Said Li, “This is also a dish that is suitable for foodies who aren’t into spicy foods.”
This one was easily one of my mum’s favourite dishes. The asparagus was deliciously crunchy and at the same time, not too oily. It is definitely a dish that will suit veggie lovers. I liked the clean, non-rich taste of the asparagus.
This dish is not spicy or hot.
As the name implies, this is a simple dumplings dish. Said Li, “These are fresh pork dumplings that can be found in most Chinese restaurants around Singapore.”
These were amongst the better dumplings that I have tasted. Served warm, the minced pork was very juicy, soft and moist and the dumpling skin was also quite soft. And the skin did not break easily when I picked these up with my chopsticks.
This dish is not spicy or hot.
Added Li, “But apart from these dumplings though, we also have a home-made wanton dish that is different to the others in Singapore as it can only be found in Sichuan. It’s different because of the way that we wrap the wantons and the ingredients that we put into it.”
Tremella dessert soup with red date
This is the dessert dish that we had, and this contains Tremella, which is a type of fungus. I thought the flavour was very cool and refreshing, especially after some of the spicy dishes that my mum and I had eaten earlier. The dessert taste helped to clean the palette after the spicy food. However, mum is not a fan of sweet desserts, so she thought it was a little on the sweet side.
Li added that another popular dessert item on the menu, is the Birds Nest with Red Bean. She said, “For this item, we boil the red bean for a very long time to bring out the flavour of the Birds Nest essence.” This dish is also popular amongst women, due to its nourishing and beautifying properties.
Other Signature Dishes
Besides the dishes that we were served as part of the Mother’s Day Menu, Li said that some of the restaurant’s other signature dishes, include Steamed Red Grouper topped with minced chilli, Barbecue Pork Ribs and Pork Knuckles in Sour Soup.
An enlightening dining experience
As a whole, my dinner experience at Si Wei Yan really helped to enlighten the perceptions of Sichuan cuisine of both my mum and I.
In fact, she had told me after the dinner session, that she had never expected Sichuan cuisine to be so “different.”
Thank you Si Wei Yan, for the media tasting invite.
Si Wei Yan is located at:
No.1 Club Street, S’pore 069400
Telephone: 6221 6836.
Open Daily, 11.30AM-2.30PM & 5PM-10PM