Thursday, 24 August 2017

Sichuan Food in JB at Restaurant Culture 渝香食府

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

JK reader Willy contacted me and enthused about the authentic Sichuan cuisine at one of his favourite JB restaurants - Restaurant Culture 渝香食府 in Bukit Indah. So, we met up there for lunch today 😄

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Restaurant Culture is located at Jalan Bestari 7/2, steps away from the GIANT hypermart and TESCO is just across the road.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Restaurant Culture is a rather ambitious project. It has four levels.

This is the ground floor which is dedicated to Sichuan cuisine. The second floor is a seafood restaurant. On the third floor is a popular steamboat buffet restaurant. On the roof top, there is a beer garden.

The Chen 陈 family which owns Restaurant Culture was motivated to open the restaurant because they and their friends from China found it hard to get a taste of authentic Sichuan cuisine in JB. Sichuan cuisine is ubiquitous in China and has a strong influence on the Chinese palate. Their longing for the taste of home was strong enough to move them to open a restaurant 😂 And, they want it to be authentic.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

The Chens engaged Chef Chang 张, a highly experienced chef from Sichuan. Chef 张 started working in a Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu in his teens and has over 30 years of experience under his belt. He is fastidious about the techniques of his craft and insists on using ingredients from Sichuan as far as possible.

For instance, Chef 张 insists on grilling his fish over charcoal for the Sichuan grilled fish dish, whereas it is common for restaurants to simply resort to the short cut of deep frying the fish.

And, it made all the difference.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

I was quite blown away by Chef 张's 碳烤活鱼 Sichuan grilled fish. It was beyond my expectation.

I have tried Sichuan grilled fish in Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore, but it wasn't a dish I really liked.

Until now.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

The fresh fish marinated for 6 hours in lime etc is butterflied and char grilled. Then, it is boiled in a stock spiked with cumin, peppercorn, dried chili pepper, fresh chili pepper and other hot stuff. The half submerged fish is then smothered with a thick blanket of fried peanuts, sesame seeds, chopped spring onions and more chili peppers. The whole pan of fish and chili is kept boiling while we ate.

We had a sea bass. The fish flesh was tender, juicy and quite sweet. The spiciness level was high but well balanced and tolerable for me - it heightened my tongue's sensitivity to taste the fish's sweetness (rather than numbs it which often happens at other Sichuan restaurants).

A sea bass (priced RM88+) can feed 3 - 4 diners. A red tilapia (priced RM58+) would be just nice for 2 persons.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

四川口水鸡 Sichuan style chicken is another iconic spicy Sichuan dish (price RM32+).

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Made with kampung chicken, the bird is done a little on the drier side. The natural chicky sweetness tended to be masked by the spicy greasy sauce.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

四川辣子鸡 Sichuan Chili Chicken, another quintessential Sichuan dish (price RM38+).

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Not hard to find the fried chicken under the heap of fried chilies. I like the mild savoury spicy flavour but the chicken was done a little dry for my liking.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

酸菜鱼 Toman fish slices in a soup made with pickled cabbage from Sichuan and spiced with chili peppers (price RM38+ for large serving).

The soup is sourish spicy with a savoury undertone. The tender Toman fish was savoury sweet and had a subtle earthly taste.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Not every Sichuan dish is spicy, there are also non spicy ones like this 黄豆焖猪手煲 (price RM22+).

It's a pork trotter stewed in a soy sauce blend together with soy beans. It's a sweet savoury dish with layers of sweetness from the pork and soy beans, balanced with soy sauce savouriness.

I love this pork trotter dish.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Saw this dish while browsing the menu and was curious about it. It's 蓝莓淮山 - it's Chinese yam cut into thick strips and served raw with a honied blueberry sauce.

The Chinese yam was crunchy, juicy, slimy and gently sweet. The honied blueberry jam added another layer of sweetness to the dish.


A post shared by Tony Johor Kaki (@johorkaki) on

👉 I enjoyed my lunch at 渝香食府 Restaurant Culture, especially the signature Sichuan grilled fish (Must Try) and stewed pork trotters. There are many more Sichuan dishes in 渝香食府 which I would love to come back to try. If you are looking to try authentic Sichuan cuisine or crave for it in JB, 渝香食府 is the place.

I am commenting from the perspective of a Southeast Asian. Folks from Sichuan and China more familiar with the flavours would have a different take.

Thank you Ms Chen for your hospitality.

Sichuan-Food-JB-Restaurant-Culture-渝香食府

Restaurant name: Restaurant Culture 渝香食府
Address: #2, Jalan Bestari 7/2, Taman Nusa Bestari, Skudai, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1°28'57.8"N 103°39'53.5"E | 1.482707, 103.664866
Tel: 011 2896 1177
Hours: 10:30am - 3:00pm | 5:00am - 10:30pm. (Steamboat buffet 5:00pm - 12:00 midnight)

Non Halal

Date visited: 24 Aug 2017

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't.

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