I’m proud of The Angmoh. He digs chilli and boy, can he take the heat. We prepared ourselves for a spicy meal at Dainty Sichuan with Smiles and Fakebooo, with the initial intention of having the Caucasians turn up after Booo and I did the ordering. We thought Sichuan restaurants reduce spice levels when Caucasians are dining. That plan fell through as I was running late so the 3 of them were seated and picked the dishes for that night. When I finally arrived, I did the ordering (in Mandarin) and also requested that the heat levels be kept the same. The waiter appeared surprised and replied that the kitchen never alters heat levels, no matter the customer. We were pleased.
We started off with a couple of popular favourites: fish fragrant eggplant and Chong Qing Chilli Chicken (or also commonly known as 辣子鸡La Zi Ji). The eggplant was presented differently with thinner, less battered slices of the vegetable. It was tasty but I do prefer the version served by the other Dainty Sichaun in South Yarra. We dug under a mountain of chopped dried chillies to find the Chong Qing Chilli chicken crisp and crunchy, each morsel seasoned by crushed Sichuan peppercorns. It left a tingling numbing sensation on the tongue, and had Booo reaching for his water glass frequently. The 2 Caucasians, Smiles and The Angmoh, powered through without breaking a sweat.
The next dish was an impressive platter served on a portable stove, loaded with ribs, vegetables, chilli and chilli oil. A small flame kept the oil in liquid state and also maintained the temperature of the dish. Spicy food, when eaten cold, just does not provide the same kick. Leaning slightly towards the salty side, it was nonetheless flavoursome and went very well with rice.
We had a great time in Dainty Sichuan. The food was great and the staff extremely helpful. We had enquired about Facing Heaven Chillies, which is a type of chilli commonly used in Sichuan cooking. The Angmoh had been trying to find fresh ones but had no luck in markets and Asian grocers. The waiter informed us that fresh Facing Heaven Chillies had to be imported into Australia and so he very kindly presented us with a fresh specimen to take home. It was a lovely gesture.
Now that the cold has truly set upon us, I anticipate more visits to Dainty Sichuan and other chilli power restaurants of Melbourne.