Mouth-Numbingly Good Mala and Sichuan Cuisine!
Updated APRIL 28, 2021
The mala craze is still going strong here in Singapore, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. And no wonder; this spicy dish may attack your taste buds, but it also gives a nice warmth and satisfying fullness to your tummy.
The word mala comes from the Mandarin characters for 'numbing' and 'spicy', which is precisely the right description for it! That's because it's made with Sichuan peppercorns, which causes that signature tingling heat in the mouth. Mala has been a staple in Sichuan Chinese cuisine since the 19th century and has remained popular even now. Modern street vendors often use mala seasoning to flavor their fare.
Unfortunately, there aren't too many halal restaurants here in Singapore that serve authentic mala. That was part of the inspiration for Mr. Leonadi, or Leo as he likes to be called, to start Le Fuse restaurant. With 15 years of experience running various restaurants around South-East Asia, Mr. Leo finally decided to set up a shop in his hometown of Singapore.
Le Fuse began its journey in 2018, opening its doors in a very 'ulu' (remote) part of Kovan. They eventually moved to their current address at 47 Arab Street in hopes of attracting some of the busy crowds in that area, especially tourists. Sadly, 3 months later COVID-19 hit, and the crowds vanished.
Mdm. Hann, who is Mr. Leo's business partner and the brand manager for Le Fuse, was the one to tell us all about the struggles they faced during lockdown last year. She also shared with us the reason behind the name Le Fuse - 'Le' in tribute to Mr. Leo, and 'Fuse' meaning fusion food!
On our visit there, we were greeted with a nice ambience and lively music playing. They have indoor and outdoor seating, and one of the tables even comes with charging points! Mdm. Hann describes Le Fuse as being a dining experience, not just a restaurant. To that end, they guarantee the best service and finest ingredients.
All Le Fuse's spices are imported from China for genuine authenticity, and the team has spent many hours mastering their recipes to the fullest. Mr. Leo himself also does the cooking sometimes, putting his expert touch to good use.
We decided to try out their Signature Kung-Fu Fish Set ($38.80 ++) which serves 4-5 pax and includes Chinese cabbage, black fungus, enoki mushrooms, tofu, and fried beancurd. Unfortunately, you can't customize the set, but we feel that Le Fuse manages to include most of the staples of a mala dish, so it wasn't an issue for us.
You can however choose your spiciness level - mild, moderate, or extreme. We were cautious and went with the medium! If you'd like even more variety, add-ons such as beef, chicken, and noodles are available with additional cost.
The huge seabass fish arrived steaming hot and smelling absolutely divine, and we knew we were in for a real treat! We had some rice to go with it, but you can also just enjoy it by itself. With the variety of add-ons included, it's definitely filling enough.
The mala gravy was piping hot and warmed us from the inside out. We could taste the signature mala flavour amid a confluence of spices, and the fish was perfectly fried and soft and flaky. It took a few bites for the signature tingling numbness to set in, so if you like the full-on sweating/crying/nose-running mala experience, go for the extreme spice level!
Mdm. Hann informs us that this dish was named after kung-fu because of its intricacy and detail. The fish is marinated for hours before frying, and the recipe and technique for the mala gravy takes a long time to master.
If you're thinking of bringing the whole fam down for a feast, fear not as there are plenty of non-mala and non-spicy dishes for the little ones (and the weak ones) to enjoy. Order the Chongqing Diced Chicken ($15.80) or the Sweet Potato Beef Noodles ($16.80) for an authentic Sichuan experience without sacrificing your taste buds!
Le Fuse always has something on hand to cool you down after all that spice. They serve desserts and drinks under their sub-brand Why Not, including shakes, cheesecakes, and scones.
We loved that their shakes had interesting names like Ride on Coco Harley, and immediately went for the Dates Sexy Sayang Shake ($7.80) first. It was a nice treat after the Kung-fu Fish, made with dates and infused with chocolate for extra oomph. We also tried the lemon cake, which was sweet and crumbly. The perfect end to a satisfying meal!
We definitely recommend Le Fuse for anyone who loves mala, and also for those who are new to it and want to test the waters. The variety of their menu ensures that there's something for everyone to enjoy, and their bundle sets are perfect for family dinners and outings.
Dine for Charity at Le Fuse
Look out for our wobblers when you dine in at Le Fuse! Scan the QR code on them to donate to Global Ehsan Relief Singapore's projects, which help the most needy in Singapore. Grab your friends and family and head on down to Dine for Charity!
Le Fuse has also agreed to help GERTV's upcoming Iftar Platters project by providing drinks for the beneficiaries to enjoy!
Nearest Mosque: Masjid Sultan (5-min walk)
Nearest Bus Stop: Ophir Road (Opp. Duo Residences) / Beach Road (Opp. Plaza Parkroyal)
Nearest MRT Station: Bugis (Downtown Line, East-West Line)
47 Arab St, Singapore 199744
3pm - 2am daily
Parking: Public parking are available in surrounding streets, nearest location we recommend is at Golden Landmark Shopping Center
Follow Le Fuse on social media