Daily: 12:00 - 21:30
Xiao La Jiao’s bold menu promises a casual Szechuan dining experience comprising hot favourites from China’s extra spicy province. For the adventurous eaters, Szechuan cuisine is perfect for delivering a flavour-packed combination of tastes.
Remember to ask for authentic style, if you really can take the original way of cooking. I notice most of these Sichuan restaurant had modified their way of food preparation here to suit local market, till I found this place.
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Xiao La Jiao is a restaurant managed by the Creative Eateries group, specialising in spicy dishes from the Sichuan province in mainland China. I dropped by there when I first visited 112 Katong. All of the food items I ordered the other day, including the dessert, are the chef's selections.
Chuan Style Spicy Chicken - A quintessential Sichuan cold dish, the spicy chicken was my appetiser of choice. While the skin was delightfully gelatinous, the meat wasn't particularly juicy. Also, the chili sauce was hot enough, but a tad too salty for my liking.
Griddle-Cooked Tian Ji - It'd been a while since I ate frog meat the last time. Tender, meaty frogs were used for the dish, although there weren't that many of them. Actually, I felt that the highlight of the dish wasn't the frog meat, but the potato wedges which were awesome. They were smooth without being soggy, and the natural sweetness perfectly balanced the overall salty taste of the dish. Talking about the level of spiciness, it was enough to cause me to sweat a little bit in the air-conditioned restaurant.
Beef with Cumin - The stir-fried beef was pretty much tender. Well, it was much milder in taste and spiciness level when compared to the frog dish, but the aroma of ground cumin was distinctive. I was delighted by the fact that there were lots of sweet onion slices to complement the beef strips.
Claypot Eggplant - The tender eggplant strips were cooked in spicy garlic and minced pork sauce, topped with a bit of scallions. While the sauce was hot (in fact, hotter than the frog dish overall) and appetising enough, again, it was kinda salty when eaten without rice.
Mini Rice Balls - While it was a warm dessert that I ordered, it was sweet enough to cool down my fiery tongue. The soft and chewy glutinous rice balls, along with the jelly-like wolfberries, were a delight to have while sipping the fragrant rice wine soup.
Homemade Barley (Cold) - Another thing to extinguish the heat, the homemade barley drink was amazingly thick without being overly sweet. I could definitely use two glasses of it.
Must Tries – Griddle signatures, Dan Dan noodles
Sichuan is not only known for its spicy dishes but it is also the first Asian city to be recognised as “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO. Being fans of the cuisine, we were thrilled when we heard that a new restaurant specialising in authentic Sichuan food has opened at 112 Katong Mall.
Named Xiao Lao Jiao (which means little chilli), the restaurant offers comfortable dining amidst its casual setting.
Most of the iconic Sichuan signatures are available at the eatery. They include kung pao chicken, mapo tofu, hot and sour soup, water-boiled fish, Dan Dan noodles and twice-cooked pork.
The waiter recommended the griddle-cooked dishes and there was a choice of prawn, duck slices, pork ribs, frog or mushrooms ($13.80 - $17.90). Upon taking our order, he had also cheekily asked if we wanted it to be prepared “local-style” or “Sichuan-style”. We opted for “somewhere in the middle” as we thought Sichuan style might be too spicy.
The griddle pot arrived with deep-fried frog and potato strips spiked with peppercorn, chill oil, onions and spices. We took our first bite of the meat and were immediately hit by the tingling numbness on our tongue. It was hot but oh so delicious! While the spiciness was not as intense as the dishes we tried in Sichuan, Xiao La Jiao came close.
We later learnt that the restaurant’s chefs hail from Chengdu, and use only imported spices from the province.
The GeLeShan ‘la zi’ chicken ($10.90) did not impress us as much. It would have been better if the meat were chunkier, giving it more texture. This version reminded us of pop-corn chicken fried with chilli.
The Dan Dan noodles ($8.00) which is also known as the “Peddlers’ noodles” did not disappoint. We loved the texture of the handmade noodles, the peanut and sesame sauce mixture, and the fact that it was not oily. But what was really special about this dish was the minced pork topping –the meat was fried till extremely dry, giving the dish a crunchy lift.
If you’re game for some really spicy Sichuan dishes, you’re going to get your fill at Xiao La Jiao.