Whenever I came by Chinatown previously, I was always fascinated by these 凉拌菜 food stalls that sold an array of different Sichuan cold dishes or appetisers from assorted meats, offals, noodles to vegetables but I had never given them a try only until recently. A week ago, the husband and I were at People’s Park Complex late in the evening and we decided to pack some of those dishes from one of such food stalls right at the entrance area (turn left from Exit C of Chinatown MRT Station) to go with a few cans of beers. Surprisingly, they were amazing! I particularly loved that slightly numbing spice that gradually built up as we ate and washing everything down with beer was just refreshingly delicious. Couple of days later, we decided to head back to Chinatown again as the cravings kicked in. And we wanted to try a different stall just to compare the standard if it would be any different.
We settled for Jue Wei Ban Cai that had a proper shop front with seating area. Similarly to the previous stall we visited, the staff here were all PRC nationals. Service wise, I felt they were more friendly with their PRC customers who were ahead of us in the queue which I wasn’t too surprised about.
A selection of 2 vegetables and 2 meats was $4.50 per packet so I picked pickled lotus root, garlic cucumber, spicy chicken meat and braised pig ears. I loved the crunch of the vegetables and the tang of the vinegary (pickling) liquid that somehow neutralised that spiciness on the tastebuds. The chicken was flavoursome but was overly salty on its own for my liking. Perhaps I should have it with some white rice to balance out that saltiness. The thinly sliced pig ears (hidden right at the bottom of the foam box) were crunchy and addictive. Loved the seasonings that were robust, savoury and of course, spicy too.
The husband ordered sliced pork belly, tau kwa and kelp. Except for the kelp which I wasn’t a big fan of, the other two were pretty tasty. Same kind of spices and seasonings were used for the meats and they all had this ma la ‘tingly’ effect on the tongue.
Though this packet of 1 meat and 2 vegetables was supposed to be $4 as stated on their price list, we were charged $4.50 for it. And when I asked about the price difference, the woman who had scooped the dishes for us just mumbled something (in a moody manner) which I didn’t catch. Anyway, the husband was rushing me to catch our bus so I couldn’t clarify further. Just take note in case you meet with the same situation next time.
While I wouldn’t say these cold dishes were out of this world (the stall we went to before this was better), it was nice to have a change of cuisine especially to one that really ignited the senses with hot chilli peppers. The type which could unclog a slightly blocked nose and warm up our tummies from inside out. It was an extremely comforting meal on a rainy, cool evening. We’d still ta bao these dishes every now and then but would likely seek out new stalls to try instead.
Jue Wei Ban Cai 绝味拌菜
People’s Park Complex
1 Park Road, #01-29 (Chinatown)
Opening hours: 10.00am to 10.00pm daily