Spice up your life with an authentic taste of Sichuan
Benlai, a boutique Sichuan cuisine restaurant, has managed to find success in a fickle market thanks to its genuine tastes and attentive service.
Customers keep coming back in their droves because of an attention to detail generally overlooked by most restaurants. The moment I stepped into its K11 venue, I could feel the warm hospitality.
Despite being inside a shopping mall complex, Benlai’s semi-open space gives off a bright and intimate ambience. The look is modern and clean, with a clear view of the kitchen preparing dishes. The herbs commonly used in Sichuan cuisine are aesthetically displayed.
The pictured menu is enticing and looks spicy. Some dishes stay true to the region’s original spicy level while some are relatively moderate so customers can ask the staff to suggest a fiery level suitable for their palate.
Whatever level of spice you choose, each dish has the right formula. With the right ingredients from Sichuan Province, each dish is layered with complicated flavors integrating pungent, hot, sweet, aromatic and salty tastes. Sichuan chili oil is widely used in its many appetizers and hot dishes.
It’s hard to recommend a particular dish as each one met expectation levels. Stir-fired pork kidney in a hotbed of chives, spicy boiled sole fish with chili pepper, and bullfrog with ginger and pepper were my favorites. Each plate serves up a large sharing portion. The fragrant pepper flavor leaves a tingly numbness lingering on the tongue but you just can’t help but crave more.
A few dishes are Zigong specialties, characterized by its liberal use of chilies. Zigong is a city in Sichuan Province famous for its food, considered to be the spiciest in the region. If you wish to push your spice limits, opt for the signature Zigong dishes marked on the menu.
Don’t leave the restaurant without trying the fried rice balls, perfect for balancing the spiciness lingering on your tongue. It’s basically a fried, crispy version of glutinous rice balls with black sesame filling but so delicious and satisfying to end the “fiery” meal.
Opening hours: 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm (Monday-Friday); 11am-10pm (weekends)
Address: L3-06, K11 Mall, 300 Huaihai Rd M.
Average price: 150 yuan