My love affair with Sichuan food started in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan.
During my two weeks in southwestern China, I gobbled on ma la (麻辣) pork, beancurd, pig’s intestines, whatever. Every meal was the same. First a tingle, followed by burning pain across the tongue. The food scraped my tastebuds raw as it bounced from palate to throat. A few more rounds by which I’d be panting for water (more like Yanjing beer). Finally numbness of the tongue.
It was sweaty and masochistic. It was also the best food I’ve ever tasted. And I loved it all, despite next morning’s affair in the toilet that ended in hot tears.
It’s hard to find good Sichuan food in Singapore. They’re either too oily or just not ma la (麻辣) enough.
But this little stall just outside of People’s Park Food Centre is probably the exception. It serves cold Sichuan dishes and it’s the best one that I’ve had so far. It’s like a mixed rice stall sans rice. Just point out your choice of vegetables, meats or innards, and the doughy Chinese owner will put them in a Styrofoam box to take away.
As they all taste the same after a while, I’d suggest mixing and matching dishes based on texture for variation. Each dish has just enough oil without overpowering the base ingredients, and coupled with ma la spices, they are reminiscent of how Sichuan can bite.
And I’m not just talking about the food.
Ma La Tang (麻辣烫)
Stall just outside of People’s Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road Singapore 050032
Three choices cost S$3.50 to S$4.