Sichuan House

22-26 Corrs Ln
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9650 8589

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, everyone knows that I would not consider Sichuan food to be up there (Cantonese FTW). Every time I go to a Sichuan restaurant, I either cry because my throat is burning or because the food is so devoid of taste thanks to the power of 10 billion bags of dried chillies that mask even the littlest traces of flavour. Still, I couldn’t help but be curious about Dainty Sichuan, a popular restaurant that sits snugly on Corrs Lane in the city. Not only has it appeared on countless Cheap Eats guides and been positively reviewed by many a food blogger, it even impressed the great man himself Anthony Bourdain when he was in Melbourne. This was enough to get me and Dave excited about trying this place and so we, along with Linda, decided to go there for after-work dinner sometime. Prior to making the booking though, I found out that Dainty Sichuan had actually moved to Toorak Road and that in its place, a new restaurant called Sichuan House took over. Despite the fact that Dainty’s owners are no longer at Corrs Lane, most of the original staff remained so we figured that there would not be any major problems when we arrived.

Before I go on, let me just use this opportunity to mention that it was actually Dave’s 28th yesterday. Yep, we had inadvertently booked dinner on his birthday before he realised it. We could have easily changed the dinner to another date but Dave was cool with the dinner going ahead so *shrugs* We started off dinner with a few drinks – okay, I just had a soy bean milk because I’m a wuss like that and because I knew I was going to need it later on. Dave decided to go with the “large” Tsing Tao, thinking that it would be just one big can. But when we saw this being presented (NOT cold), we couldn’t help but LOL:


A 700ml beer bottle. Funny that.

Chongqing chilli chicken ($22.80). It was red. It was massive. It was spicier than Ginger Spice. This was the only three-chilli dish we ordered because all three of us, despite being Asians, are self-confessed wusses when it comes to hot foods. Having said that, we knew that we could not go to Sichuan House without having tried at least one three-chilli dish (on the chilli scale, three was the highest rating) and so we chose the famous Chongqing chilli chicken dish because its picture on the menu looked the prettiest.

The chicken pieces were what looked like chopped up chicken wings which were coated in a thin batter and then fried. They were tasty, but perhaps a little on the dry side. To be honest with you, I was expecting it to be, well, hotter. I mean, sure, it was HOT but not so hot that I had to down 10 billion bottles of soy bean milk. Normally, these sorts of restaurants would be liberal in the use of chilli seeds but Sichuan House achieved a decent balance between heat (Sichuan peppercorns that caused a tingling sensation in one’s mouth) and taste, using garlic, sea salt and vinegar. I liked how I could actually taste what was in my mouth, though every now and then I would get a stingy sensation down the back of my mouth and my eyes would water no thanks to a stray Sichuan peppercorn.

Kong Pao prawns ($23.80). With a chilli rating of two chillies, this dish was much milder than the chicken. The fact that it was excessively sweet probably helped cool our taste-buds too. The gooey, saccharine sauce was lovely, almost honey-like in both taste and consistency and went especially well with the peanuts, as Linda would attest to. The dish was spicy but not overly, perfect for the three of us. I guess my only criticism would be that they used a little too much vinegar in the sauce but eh, that’s just me…


We needed to order a mild dish to dumb down the effects of the hotter dish so we ordered a plate of dry stir-fried beans with minced pork ($15.80). I usually order this dish at other Sichuan restaurants as my “vegetable dish” because it’s incredibly tasty and who doesn’t love crunchy beans? Sadly, I think this dish was a bit of a let-down. For starters, it wasn’t crunchy at ALL as the beans were overcooked. Secondly, the pork seasoning was way too salty. Ick.

It doesn’t look like we ordered much, but the dishes were actually on the morbidly obese side. By the time all three of us sat back in defeat, we were amazed to see how much food was left:


Yeah .

(Don’t worry, I ended up taking the leftovers home in plastic containers for my parents to enjoy… so rest assured that nothing went to waste).

While I still think that Cantonese cuisine reigns supreme over all the other Chinese cuisines, I do reckon that Sichuan House was probably one of the better Sichuan restaurants I’ve dined at in Melbourne – and that’s saying something. The food was not bogged down in excessive amounts of chilli which meant that I could actually taste the complex layers of flavours that each dish boasted (okay, except for the stupid beans). It was reasonably priced too ($81.90, including drinks and rice @ $1.50 per bowl) for the amount of food we had (which was probably enough to feed 5-6 people). Finally, for a mainlander restaurant, the service was actually decent. Obviously, we are not talking Flower Drum-standard, but they did churn out the dishes reasonably quickly, replenished our waters without being asked and I actually saw smiles. I’d probably want to try other Sichuan restaurants before coming back to this one but if I happen to be hanging out with a mate in the city and they were DYING to have Sichuan food for dinner, then I would take them here over anywhere else.
I eat too much.

8 Comments

  1. princesstrang
    January 29, 2010

    I can see linda’ s fork lol

    Reply
  2. funky_ass
    January 30, 2010

    yup i had to use a spoon. i was using the chopsticks but making a real mess everywhere….cant use chopsticks for shit…@libby: cannot wait for the next eat out…what do u feel like? japanese/korean/italian/morrocan.. u name it.. dinner it is:Ddoesnt have to be bank breaking…

    Reply
  3. fipar20
    January 31, 2010

    Sichuan food makes my mouth water in the same way as having lemon juice. LOL!Looks like you all had a great time. Hope Dave didn’t get sick from eating the food.

    Reply
  4. […] Even Adam and his parents were drawing sweat. To be honest, I only thought this dish was okay. The Chong Qing chicken at Sichuan House was not only bigger, it had a greater depth of flavours. Here, all I could taste was garlic, chilli, […]

    Reply
  5. Hannah
    February 7, 2011

    There is no such thing as too much vinegar!

    True story.

    (I used to sip on cups of vinegar when I was a kid.)

    Reply
  6. Alex
    February 9, 2011

    I love Sichuan House! Much better than the new Dainty Sichuan imo. I love how there is a good balance between flavour and heat!

    My favourite is the fish flavoured eggplant, it is possibly my favourite food! You have to try it next time!

    Love the blog btw, Alex

    Reply
  7. peter
    April 9, 2012

    Love the pics. And I am sure you will love Sichuan House Seafood even more.
    Search for the details of SIchuan House Seafood at urbanspoon.com.au

    Reply
    1. libishski
      April 9, 2012

      Thanks for the tip, Peter. Had a quick look on urbanspoon and the restaurant DOES seem to get very favourable reviews. I will definitely check it out 🙂

      Reply

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