Posted on | February 14, 2012 | 12 Comments
There’s an inner glutton in me. She is mostly tamed and kept deep down inside, but occasionally she rises to the surface. Normally she comes out in the presence of other gluttons ie Ms Kat. However, I discovered the other night that my glutton is only a glutton in training in comparison to Kat.
Kat wanted to go to Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen to eat Sichuan food and “shit on sticks” (my terminology – translation: meat/vegies on skewers). Since it’s my side of town, I was keen and we gathered up Thanh, Kat’s partner Josh, Alastair and Bro for a visit one night last week.
When we arrived, we were disappointed to see that the menu had changed. No more stick food. Still, we were there already so we soldiered on and flicked through the very helpful photo menu, ending up with eight dishes between the six of us. We thought that was going to be too much food, but an attempt to cull dishes was unsuccessful:
“Okay, shall we cull the squid?”
“Well what about the tongue?”
“Ah, then how about the onion balls?”
“Oh, I really want the onion balls…”
We just ordered all eight dishes. Far better to overeat than have to cut down our choices (oh look, there’s my glutton talking).
First out was a plate of pan fried pork dumplings ($4.80 for 6 dumplings). I quite enjoyed these – they weren’t mind-blowing but they were tasty. The dumplings had a relatively thin skin, crisp bottoms, and a juicy pork filling.
Next was the dish that I personally really wanted: sliced beef tongue and tripe with chilli sauce ($9.80). Served cold, this was SO GOOD and I’m really glad I didn’t let anyone cull it. The texture confused us a bit, as it didn’t seem like any tongue that any of us had ever eaten, and we couldn’t find any tripe, but whatever. It was delicious. The thinly sliced tongue had a slightly chewy texture like almost dried beef jerky, and it was coated in a spicy, garlicy sauce with a hint of Sichuan pepper. Delicious, delicious, delicious.
The deep fried onion balls ($14.80) was a dish that we almost cut twice. But when it arrived, we were all glad that it made the cut. The small balls had a mild sweet onion flavour and were possibly made of tofu – they had a nice light texture. Plus there was almost a mountain of them. The only point against them was the sweet chilli sauce they were served with, but they were definitely worth ordering.
Thanh’s choice was the deep fried lamb spare ribs with homemade sauce ($18.80). He knows how to pick them because this was the dish of the night. The tender and fatty ribs were coated in a sticky, sweetish sauce that had a touch of cumin, but best of all they had a slightly crisp crust from being deep fried. So. Good. Next time, we definitely need to order two serves.
Because we needed some vegetables, we also had dry beans with chilli and pork mince ($13.80). I love this dish, and this was a good version. The beans were tender and nicely wrinkled, and the flavours were well balanced. At some restaurants they make it too salty, but this was just right.
The deep fried chicken with chilli and pepper ($17.80) is one dish that I swore never to order again. But others wanted it, and they let me have my tongue dish, so it stayed on our list. And… hate to say it – but this didn’t make me like it any more. There’s no value in it – look at all the chilli (which are basically inedible, though Kat had a good time trying) and there was very little chicken. What chicken there was in the dish, were very small pieces, all with very sharp shards of bone.
Alastair’s choice was the deep fried squid with salt and pepper ($18.80). It was okay – a touch oily – but the thick batter was nicely crisp. Still, it took up valuable stomach space from all the other deliciousness and could’ve come from any fish and chip shop.
And finally, we had a plate of spicy eggplant ($12.80). The eggplant had been sliced into batons and I’m assuming deep fried in a light batter and then coated in a sweet, sticky sauce. The inside ends up meltingly soft, and there’s a bit of caramelised sweet crispness to the outside. If you go, you should definitely order this. It wasn’t at all spicy though, so it is perhaps misnamed. If I named this dish, I would call it: sweet crisp tender eggplant.
After all that food we weren’t hungry any more, but the thought of deep fried ice cream ($3.80) was too much to resist. And holy moly it was fantastic. The balls of ice cream were massive, and coated in a sweet caramel sauce, but the coating wasn’t a normal batter. It was like the ice cream was in a cakey/donut coating, and had perhaps been dipped in bread crumbs before frying. Amazing. Alastair and I shared one, and after we were about three quarters of the way through, my inner glutton started screaming at me: STOP. STOP EATING. RIGHT NOW.
I put my spoon down and let Alastair polish off the rest. Delicious as it was, if my glutton was saying stop, it really means stop. While I was so full I could barely move, Kat insisted she could eat another plate of the lamb ribs.
We all really enjoyed the meal at Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen. Since it serves Sichuan food, the inevitable comparison must be made with Dainty Sichuan. And my verdict – despite the unwieldy name, I think Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen is better than Dainty. The food wasn’t as oily and salty, and the restaurant itself is small and clean and much more comfortable. Prices are also quite a bit cheaper. But the biggest bonus (for me): it’s on my side of town.
We’ll definitely be back as there’s more on the menu that I wanted but couldn’t fit in: e.g. smoked pork hock – next time, you will be mine!
For more on Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen, see these blogs:
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Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen
311 Racecourse Road
Flemington / Kensington
Phone: 9372 5218