Saturday, 22 September 2007

Dainty Sichuan

Despite being Malaysian born and bred, I never have a very high tolerance for spicy-ness. No doubt that I do like certain spicy foods (i.e. tom yum and curries), but certainly not majority and I cannot take food that are extremely spicy.

So I don't know what possessed me to want to try Dainty Sichuan (probably tummyrumbles' reviews) and amazingly enough, I went on my own free will, there was no screaming/kicking/dragging. I do NOT know what I was thinking and I also have no idea what was in store for me.

Dainty Sichuan was as usual bustling to the brim; we made a reservation because the first time we were there, we waited for 30 minutes and gave up. The reservation didn't do us a lot of good - just meant that we could jump queue. Luckily, a table finished a mere 2 minutes after we were waiting, score!

No, I am not THAT bad of a photographer, I blurred people on purpose. In case someone popped up and sue me for "wrongful use of image". Hah.

We started off with helping ourselves to drinks, in anticipation. I chose the sweet milk tea because the bottle was pretty.


The Mouth-Watering Chicken was the first dish to appear, cos it was a cold dish.

Despite it looking like it might kill me, I still want to eat it.

Quiver and shake with fear!!

Smaller than we expected, it looked fire-hot! With chilli oil and flakes of dried chilli, I think I was like WAAAAH (in fear and tears) when I looked at it. Rice arrived and we tucked in, albeit tentatively for me. On first bite? It wasn't as spicy as expected and I was sort of surprised. Finding it yummy - flavours of salt and chilli went together nicely - I devoured the first piece and took a second one - and in the midst of chewing my second piece of chicken, I felt the spicy-ness settling in, burning on the tip of my tongue. Uh-oh. Cue swallowing my milk tea and a mouthful of rice plus a stick of newly arrived Garlic Cucumber.

Lifesaver #2 that is amazingly yummy!

The garlic cucumber was fantastic to me. I just really really like it, they had seasoned the garlic in salt so that the smell of garlic wasn't overpowering, but still maintaining a satisfying garlicky taste with the cucumbers. Yum! The cucumbers also served as a cooling balance to other hot dishes.

The Chongqing Chicken was up next.

Treasure hunt to find chicken among chillies.

Served fried with a HUGE-ASS dish of dried/fresh/refried (yes, REFRIED - we found crab claws in our chicken dish - proving that they recycled leftover chillies) chillies, it looked sort of terrifying. The chicken were small, boned pieces and we had to dig through the mountain of chillies to find it. Hah. Turtle and Alf wasn't very happy with this dish as they felt that was way too little amount of chicken, but MM sis certainly was a huge fan. She really liked the chicken and meticulously picked her way through chillies for the chicken. San seemed to like it as well. As for me? My first piece had me choking and gasping and swallowing massive amounts of milk tea because I think a chilli seed got into my throat and stuck itself there. Talk about torture. That aside, I find the chicken rather good. It was superbly spicy - there was a sort of WHOOOSH feeling to it when I ate it, but it settled down (just a little) after a while. A pity that it was boned with little pieces of bone - much better if they are boneless chicken pieces.

Next up was the Spicy Crab.


Pretty generous serve.

Looks good, eh? The crab was a little less spicy than the chicken, however, it was a mess trying to eat it. Alf eventually crunched his way through his pieces of crab, shell and all. I did the same thing after a while and hey, the shell (especially the leg part) wasn't so tough. It was rather nice and crunchy. The crab was tasty although after a while, I found it to be too salty, as with Sis MM. Definitely VERY salty. I really had to have it with rice, otherwise, the salt was too much. That aside, the crab dish was good, Alf and Turtle's favourite.

Throughout the meal, I just kept eating cucumbers, even ordering another dish (and another bottle of milk tea eventually, that is how much I sucked). The cucumbers really helped to cool the fire in my mouth. No wonder people said "as cool as a cucumber". I was no where near that cool, though. Burning hot, more like. Hence the inhaling of milk tea and cucumbers.

To be honest, although I find the food to be good (just good, not very or extremely good), I won't go back there. Not in near future, anyway. One, I just can't take the spicy-ness, it was too much. Up to the point I had stomach discomfort throughout the night. Two, they recycled the chillies!! We can obviously tell, even before finding the crab claw in the Chongqing chicken. I don't care what the norm is, I find that gross, sorry.

But if you're a huge fan of chillies and spice, or that you want to challenge your hot/spicy tolerance, or that you just like to torture your tongue (and yourself) for fun - give this place a go. Its famous name for spicy-ness is certainly justified well enough.

And oh, the total bill came to roughly AUD$102 for 4 dishes and 6 drinks.

- Mouse


Dainty Sichuan
26 Corrs Lane
Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 8861


Anonymous said...

Have been having a few recommendations from a couple of frens saying that Dainty Sichuan serves v good n spicy food. N after my first experience there, i think the food was rather good, altho at times u felt it was too spicy n salty. I like the garlic on cucumbers and mouth-watering chicken. The spicy crabs were good too but came across overly salty, whereas for the ChongQing chicken, it just v hot n spicy!

BTW, make a booking if possible, else do expect at least 20-30 minutes of wait. The queue never stop during the whole duration we were there. how popular is this place. scary yea...


Ginger said...

there's loads of chilly in those dishes! i love spicy food but when u mention that they reused the chilli, i got put off immediately. that is very unhygienic dont u think?

IronEaters said...

hi ginger.yup, i concur. its v obvious tt they just re-fried everything left on the plate again and add some fresh ones, as u can just see the differences in the color of,for example, between the refried spring onion and dried chillies with the fresh ones. And Alf just told me today that his fren (from China) said its normal for them to refried the chillies as its their practice/norm to do that. So, its like a open secret if u like? Regardless of this, this place is so popular,always full of ppl and u just need to queue to get a table


New Kid on the Blog said...

Everything looks yummy to me... before read the content, I was giving a wild guess, and I got it right, cuz, everything looks red & spicy and oily too... and that's SzeChuan's style.

IronEaters said...

hi new kid on the blog. hehe, good guess there! spicy n oily =D

Rasa Malaysia said...

Too bad you can't eat overly spicy food...for me, I loooove spicy food, the spicier the better. The Chongqing chicken is my most favorite Sichuan dish...I never miss it whenever I go to China. ;)

tigerfish said...

So much chili. I like spicy food but I wonder what is my threshold. I don't think I like the chicken dish cold, esp with chili like that. But drunken chicken or similar, I'm ok.
Nice to eat sichuan food during fall/winter and I'm waiting for it! :P

Jessica said...

the food looks absolutely delish! but recycled chillies......that can't be legal! :D

mellie said...

Haha...I laughed so much reading your post. Well done mouse, I am most impressed that you decided to try the dainty!

I suspected as much about recycling the chilli, and your crab claw find just confirmed it. Ewww.

Alas, at least you know that if the deep frying doesn't kill any germs, the chilli, the salt, or the MSG will! ;-)

mouse said...

Hey rasa malaysia, yeah, I know!! I do like spicy but my low tolerance for it means I miss out most of the good stuff. :( But the Dainty Chongqing chicken was an eye opener!

Hi tigerfish, the threshold has to be rather high to eat Dainty comfortably, me thinks. Not one of us in the group reallly passed the test. :D I'm not too sure how drunken chicken is like (can't remember as I never had it often) but the cold chicken dish of that chicken is really tasty.

Hey jessica, apparently I heard from people that that is the "norm". I don't know whether is it legal in Australia but in China, it most definitely is. x.x

Hi mellie, I think your posts really prompted me to give it a go, and my friends had been wanting to try it for ages! And yeah, recycled chilli galore...and that was what we told ourselves, too! XD That everything - bacteria and what not - all killed in the heat and chilli! Haha, that's a self-comforting thought, really. :)

Shirley Khor said...

Wow! Look at the amount of chilli used. Now, that's what I call 'extreme'!

I loooovvvvveeeee spicy food. Tell you what, I can't eat my meals without any chilli sauce, sambal or chilli padi. At home, I eat pasta with sambal. Weird, huh? :P

Anonymous said...

As experienced Chilly eaters we recently are at Dainty Suchuan, Chilli Chicken and Pork Knuckle and can only say if you want to eat chicken scrapings with a bone posted though it for the first dish or pork bone with fat for one for the second dish, go for you life.

We love hot and spice food but the quality of the ingredients was disgraceful not only poor quality but expensive too boot. Never again