Set in the prestigious Alexandra House, Grand Majestic Sichuan is a glamourous escape steeped in the nostalgic mystique of the past. The theatre of the space sets the scene for a fascinating journey into the flame-fired depths of Sichuan cookery, and taking up the reins of this dreamlike experience is Head Chef Theign Phan, who will bring a new perspective along with her passion for Chinese cuisine.
Chef Theign is inviting diners to embark on a sensational journey into the flame-fired depths with a line-up of new dishes curated in tandem with Sichuan food expert and culinary consultant to the restaurant, Fuchsia Dunlop, who visited the restaurant last year.
During her visit, the two pioneering chefs joined hands to showcase a limited-time collaboration menu and established the foundation for the second year of the Sichuan restaurant.
For four-time James Beard award winner Fuchsia Dunlop, “Chef Theign’s superb culinary skills and calm stewardship of the kitchen make her a perfect fit for Grand Majestic Sichuan. Her dedication to her craft is impressive. It’s been such a delight working with her on the menu, and I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
Born in Malaysia but raised in Singapore, it was no wonder that as a kid, Theign developed a discerning palate influenced by multiple identities. Her innate tenacity has taken her across continents, accruing culinary recognition.
While an unconventional start to her career saw her studying journalism at the University of Wisconsin, she would often leave to visit family in San Francisco, where she was exposed to a world of cuisines often lumped all together as “Asian”.
It sparked her interest in food, but it was during her graduation ceremony – and a speech by the late chef Charlie Trotter – that the idea of it as a profession truly took hold.
Four years of global gastronomy and a lifetime of her mother’s Cantonese soups for dinner prepared Theign for her next career adventure: Hong Kong. In 2018, a chance reencounter with Ho Lee Fook’s Jowett Yu, whom she originally met during a brief stage at Sydney’s Ms G’s, was the fork in the road she needed.
Soon after, she boarded a plane with a short stint at the then-funky Chinese kitchen before she took the lead at Saigonese grill house, Le Garçon Saigon.
With a whole-hearted interest in the library of cuisines within the Chinese culinary canon, Theign propelled herself front and centre three years later when the opportunity to lead the wok-trained brigade as Head Chef of the group’s fiery and glamorous escape in Alexandra House, Grand Majestic Sichuan, came along.
All throughout her career, Theign has never forgotten about her roots. As a junior cook, she began building her cookbook collection, all while learning how to create dishes and menus. Her collection began humbly with three Chinese cookbooks, one of which was Land of Fish and Rice by none other than Fuchsia Dunlop.
Years of in-depth experience with different techniques and several types of cuisines have made Theign the seasoned chef she is today. Even still, she has never lost her ego-free curiosity and a wide-eyed approach to cooking.
Family and her Asian roots keep her grounded and are the ‘why’ behind everything she does. It is this ethos that will continue to serve her well as she develops into a recognised expert in Chinese cuisine, beginning with Sichuan, naturally.
New Dishes at Grand Majestic Sichuan
From cold dishes to slow-simmered meats and flavoursome soups, the layers of Sichuan cuisine unfold in tongue-tingling delight, touching on the full glossary of flavour profiles: spicy, tingly, garlicky, sweet, sour, savoury, bitter, smoky and floral.
Showcasing traditional regional cooking techniques and a wide-eyed curiosity for playing with flavour, Chef Theign has introduced and reimagined dishes that are well-known in the Sichuan canon.
Having first debuted during Fuchsia Dunlop’s visit, Liang Ban Hai Zhe ($188) returns to the menu featuring ribbons of jellyfish paired with sweet and sour slivers of daikon and the Gong Bao Long Xia ($1288, with 48hr pre-order) combines classic house-made gong pao sauce with the rich, meaty flavour of Australian spiny lobster and cashew nuts (48-hour pre-order required).
A staple item seen everywhere in Sichuan cuisine, the Chuan Wei You Yu ($308) focuses on blanched calamari, and crunchy beansprouts tossed with Sichuan peppercorn and a house-made spicy soy sauce.
The sizzling Bao Yu Ji Bao ($488), a hot and spicy chicken and abalone hotpot, showcases flavours of doubanjiang and Sichuan peppercorn, which perfectly pair with the savoury three-yellow chicken.
Finally, Chef Theign introduces a personal favourite, Pao Jiao Niu Rou ($348), or boneless Angus beef short rib with house-made fermented chillies, bamboo shoots and chive blossoms.
Reservations are available via www.grandmajesticsichuan.com seven days a week.
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