Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sichuan House, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

Warning. Sichuan House is only for those with a high tolerance for spicy foods. I have been to this restaurant several times and always with people who have said that they loved spicy foods. However, usually around half of the table find the food too hot to enjoy or even eat. Unlike many Sichuan restaurants around town most of their customers are mainland Chinese and they make no compromises for local tastes.

I have also found that I have distinct favourites amongst the dishes, more so that in a lot of other restaurants. The dishes below are ranked very much in terms of MY favourites - I doubt that they would match up with those of everyone one there.

My favourite dish at Sichuan House, although it is a close finish with the Cumin Ribs. Hot (although not as hot as some other dishes) and sweet, it both hits the taste mark and gives a bit of a respite from some of the hotter and more savoury items on the menu. While I am not always the biggest fan of Kung Po Chicken, especially the tamer version found in most restaurants, this is one of the two dishes I want to order every time I go to this restaurant.

A fairly bland looking dish when it gets to the table, this one has quite a punch. The ribs are moist but manage to combine some of the most distinct flavours - which make me wish I knew much more about Sichuan cuisine so I could accurately describe them - with the spiciest punch of any of the dishes here. Unlike, say, the Chongqing Chicken, the spices in this dish have a bit of a delayed reaction - one moment nicely warming, the next lip tingling and tongue numbing.

This dish looks really spicy (and is) but like the cumin ribs it is also full of underlying flavours. Less than bite sized chunks of fried chicken in a sea of chillies, the idea is to pick out all the bits of chicken but not to eat the chillies. I find this dish is initially hotter than the ribs, but doesn't have the same backlash of heat that the ribs have. My main reason for preferring the ribs to this dish is that I find the chicken pieces interesting in taste but a little dry - I suspect the greater size of the ribs helps them to maintain a moist core.

For some reason all my photos of this dish are out of focus. This dish is not spicy like all the other dishes and has a subtle sourness to it. This provides a nice contrast and makes it quite refreshing.

This is normally one of my favourite Sichuan dishes, but I don't find that I consistently like the version at Sichuan House. I suspect the reason for this is the balance of pork and tofu. While I like the flavours to be more evenly balanced, I find the version at Sichuan House leans more towards the tofu side. I am not sure if this makes it more authentic or not, but its not my personal preference. Also, while I don't agree, consensus opinion is that this is the hottest dish we have tried at this restaurant.

The last two dishes I am not sure that I would order again. The pork trotters have an interesting texture when eaten, almost like giant chicken feet. However the dish is very fatty and oily and I would probably only order it as part of a large group. One or two trotters would make an interesting addition to a meal, but as a main dish it is not as interesting in flavour as the dishes above.

I would not order this again. I found it quite boring in taste and texture. This was a big disappointment as I normally love beef tendons.

And finally soya milk. Little white fire extinguishers for putting out chemical fires.

Personally this is one of my favourite Chinese restaurants in Melbourne. But if your experience of Chinese food revolves around the westernised Cantonese from the local suburban restaurant you may be in for a huge and unpleasant shock. While full of flavour the food can be very spicy. The other trap for this restaurant is the size of the serves - two mains per three diners is likely to be plenty. If your taste leads you towards spicy foods you might find this becomes one of your favourites too, if not probably give it a miss.

Ambience - 7.5
Service - 8.5
Food - 7.5 (8.5 Kung Po Chicken and ribs - 3.5 Beef tendons)
Price - 7.5 (a little more than most Chinese restaurants balanced by
serve size)

26 Corrs Lane
Melbourne CBD VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9650 8589

Sichuan House on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...