Have you ever craved for grilled fish (aka “kao yu”) when you are at a food court? If you had and couldn’t find any stalls previously, good news for you! Introducing to you… Ba Guo Grilled Fish! Located at the Food Republic @313 Somerset, you can now satisfy your cravings and 麻 (numb) your tastebuds away with some good authentic Si Chuan Cuisine in the heart of town. On top of being able to enjoy the famous spicy and smoky grilled fish that Singaporeans can’t seem get enough of over the past year, you are in for a Si Chuan feast with other items on the menu that will definitely give you a taste of China!
At Ba Guo Grilled Fish, most of their fresh vegetables and spices (especially their chilis and peppers) are flown in directly from Si Chuan, China. As its name suggest, Ba Guo’s signature dish on the menu is their grilled fish. Marinated with more than 30 kinds of fresh vegetables and spices, Ba Guo has perfected the balance of spice, flavour and aroma in the dish. Also, keeping with the traditional Si Chuan culinary practice, the fish is grilled using three different techniques – pickling, roasting and stewing over Dashan charcoal, to give it its authentic smoky flavour.
The grilled fish is sold in a few different flavours, including the iconic spicy mala grilled fish, a flavour that most of us are accustom to. However, the flavour which stood out the most and is not usually seen in grilled fish restaurants in Singapore would be the Grilled Fish with Double Green Pepper Chilli.
Cooked in a light clear broth filled with fresh vegetables and topped with green chilis and green peppercorns, this unique grilled fish is a healthier take on the grilled fish normally served. Although this dish looks harmless (and might even look bland at first), don’t be deceived by its appearance! This dish is nothing short of flavour and definitely packs a punch in the spiciness and numbness department. The broth is thoroughly seasoned and the sweetness of the vegetables just cuts through as well (and yes, you did not read wrongly, you can drink the broth!). With each mouth, you can first taste the actual flavour of the broth before the spiciness and numbness kicks in a few seconds later. Also, keeping true to the authenticity of the dish, the fish used known as Qing Hua Fish (a type of river fish) is also flown directly from Chong Qing, where the grilled fish dish originated from. The Grilled Fish with Double Green Peppers is highly recommended if you want to enjoy a less “sinful” grilled fish with all the flavours still there. I will definitely order this grilled fish again!
Other than grilled fish, Ba Guo also serves many other iconic Si Chuan dishes. Ranging from appetisers, cold dishes, mains and even bar snacks.
One of the cold dish they have on their menu is the Hot and Sour Crunch Fungus. This cold dish is not as spicy as I though it would be. But you can definitely taste the tanginess from the vinegar and the fragrance of the sesame oil used. Overall, it is a rather refreshing dish to have to accompany the grill fish.
Next are the Sliced Beef and Strips in Special Sauce and Chicken Cubes in Chill Oil. Both dishes tasted quite similar to me, hence if you were to order, I recommend ordering either one will do.
For the beef dish, you’ll get a mix of slice beef and beef stomach slices. With two different parts of the beef, you’ll be able to enjoy different textures of the meat bathed in their special sauce. If innards aren’t your thing, you can go for the Chicken Cubes in Chili Oil.
What makes this dish special is the chili oil. The chef mentioned that more than 10 different ingredients were used to make this chili oil.
Taking a break from all the chilis, there is the Braised Pork Cubes with Dry Mushrooms. This dish is not easy to master at all. It has to be cooked for a specific duration to get it right and Ba Guo did not disappoint.
The pork belly cubes were tender, well marinated and the vegetables helps to take away some of the greasiness of the dish. This dish will definitely go well with a warm bowl of rice.
The next dish might not be for everyone as it involves frogs!
This main flavours from this dish comes from the pickled vegetables and chili which is marinated/ pickled personally by the chef of Ba Guo for 3-5 days! The frogs pieces are then stir-fried in this spicy and sour goodness to produce this dish. This dish is definitely worth trying!
Ba Guo also has crayfish on their menu! Can you believe this fancy dish below is served at a food court?
For this dish, the crayfish are stir-fried in minced garlic. Anything with garlic, especially shellfishes will never go wrong! That being said, I might not order this dish again as it is rather messy to eat and the crayfish meat is quite small.
Saving the best for the last (aside from the grill fish), another must order dish at Ba Guo will definitely be the spicy deep fried chicken cubes. This dish is a very popular bar snack in Chong Qing and it goes very well with alcohol, especially beer!
The deep-fried chicken pieces are tossed in heaps of dried red chili and peppercorns. With each mouth, there is the crispiness of the chicken and the spiciness and the numbness from the spices which makes this dish “painfully” addictive. Also, as the chicken cubes are hidden in the dried chili, you literally have to search through pile to get that piece of meat which adds to the fun as well!
With more and more Chinese grilled fish stores opening in Singapore, Ba Guo is definitely one to try especially since Ba Guo emphasises on keeping true to the traditional Si Chuan taste and culinary practise! Also for all dishes, you can request for the level of spiciness that you want upon request.
Ba Guo Grilled Fish
Food Republic @ 313 Somerset