I love spicy food. And I like being prepared. So I prepared myself for Dainty Sichuan. I tied my hair up, wore short sleeves, and had extra packs of pocket tissues in my purse. Ready for some hot food, I met I-Hua, Allan, Celeste, Bryan, Injera, Anna and partners for a chilli date.
We started with a simple dish of shredded potato threads with hot capsicum ($15.80). Not bad… but I was itching for some chilli!
And chilli we got. The Chongqing chilli chicken ($25.80) was basically a plate of dried chillies sprinkled with Sichuan pepper and the occasional small piece of fried chicken. So. Much. Chilli. The chilli isn’t really edible, so it hardly seems worth the effort! It was also quite mouth numbing with all the Sichuan pepper. I think it’s one of those “must order” dishes, but since there’s so much interesting food on the menu I doubt I’d order it again.
Like the Chongqing chicken, the ma po tofu ($18.80) had lots of Sichuan pepper flavouring the sauce that the soft tofu sat in. I love love love ma po tofu, and this wasn’t bad, though I like it spicier – much spicier – because I like the contrast between the almost bland, soft tofu with the spicy sauce.
PS: My mum makes the best ma po tofu. :D.
The spicy beef hearts and tongue slices ($15.80) were interesting. Sliced thinly, I seem to recall that they were served cold. I’m a big offal fan, but I wouldn’t order it again. It just wasn’t tasty enough to spend stomach space on!
Fortunately the lamb in the cumin lamb slices ($26.80) were fantastic – heavily spiced with chilli and cumin, which made for a great combination.
The boiling fish in golden basin ($38.80) was one of my favourite dishes. See that pot? It looks like soup, but it was actually full of oil, plus fish, deep fried chilli and Sichuan pepper. The photos in the menu show how it’s prepared – the fish slices and Sichuan pepper are placed in the bowl, and then dried chilli and hot oil are poured in. The end result was silky pieces of fish flavoured with chilli and pepper. You have to eat it while it’s hot though, as once the oil cools it gets a bit icky.
Green beans are one of my favourite vegies, and happily these dry stir fried beans ($19.80) were pretty good, though the mince on top was pretty salty (and probably packed with MSG). But the beans were all nicely wrinkled from the heat of the wok, and the saltiness was tempered by eating it with plain rice.
Another one of Dainty’s “must order” dishes, this is the fish flavoured eggplant ($17.80). It was a bit strange, the eggplant was deep fried and cooked in a sauce of sweet and sour pickled chilli. But it actually tasted like the fried eggplant had been coated in honey, which meant the eggplant had a sweet crispy coating and a soft interior. Strange, but also really good.
I’ve only started to enjoy eating preserved eggs in the past couple of years, and I really enjoyed the preserved duck eggs with hot capsicum ($11.80). They were so thick and creamy.
And finally, we had a plate of spicy duck tongues ($18.80). Who on earth ordered this?? I wasn’t into them at all. The tongues had a big bone in the middle and were served cold. Not worth the effort or stomach space!
All in all, I enjoyed our meal at Dainty, though I didn’t think it was that spicy. Everyone has their own chilli tolerance, but I’m certainly no superhero (I mean, I’m not even Thai) but I found that my preparations were unnecessary. The bill at the end was surprisingly low, so if you can definitely eat cheaply there, particularly if you’re in a large group. Plus if you’re with lots of people, you can try more dishes.
Btw, if you’re on a diet, you might want to steer clear. So much oil!
For more on Dainty Sichuan, check out these blogs:
[googleMap name="Dainty Sichuan" width="600" height="30" directions_to="false"]176 Toorak Road, South Yarra, VIC, Australia[/googleMap]
176 Toorak Rd
Phone: 03 9078 1686