I’m not a big fan of spicy food. I always seem to break out in pimples if I eat too much chilli, so I try and avoid it as much as I can. I also don’t really like not being able to feel my tongue or lips when I eat food that is too spicy. However, the call of the new Sichuan restaurant in Chatswood was too strong.
Once you step into the restaurant, you are transported to China. The interior of the restaurant is decked out in furniture from China. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it just reminds me of when I was in China at the beginning of this year. Ah, memories. However, I’m sure that we’re a lot cleaner in Australia than they are in China.
We are seated at a table with a glass tabletop, it’s weird being able to see your feet while you’re flipping through the encyclopaedia of a menu. Truthfully, the menu wasn’t THAT thick, it was quite big though. It gave me the feeling of trying to read the Sydney Morning Herald on a cramped train (reminds me of a clip I saw on Chaser’s War on Everything). The pictures were great though, I love a menu with heaps of pictures. They were vibrant and making me salivate. Everything looked so good, but there was only 3 of us (the boyfriend, dad and me), so we couldn’t order too much. To my surprise, I found out that dad had never eaten Sichuan food before. Guess it makes sense, he’s not a fan of spicy food either.
Nevertheless, they have a great range of spicy and non spicy options to suit all palates. Whether you’re into spicy foods or a pansy like me, you’ll find something that you’ll enjoy. Every table received complementary pickles, which is a nice appetizer as it whets your appetite. Unfortunately, I spent so much time taking photos that the boyfriend and my dad gobbled most of it up before I had a chance, and the waiter wasn’t willing to give me a little top up.
Complimentary Pickled Garlic
Surprisingly the pickled garlic is quite appetizing and mild in flavour, not the pungent garlic flavour you expect.
Complimentary Pickled Cucumber
Slightly too soft for my liking, I prefer my pickles to be quite crunchy. The softer it is, the longer it has been sitting in the pickling liquid, which means it will be quite sour.
Sliced Beef, Beef Tongue and Tripe with Chilli Sauce $9.80
Everything was very tender which contrasted nicely with the crunchy peanuts. I avoided mixing it with the chilli sauce to save myself. However, everything was in a heap which didn’t allow me to identify the 3 elements that made up this dish. It did seem like most of it was sliced beef.
Jellyfish Head with Sliced Cucumbers, Red Chillies in Chilli Oil $16.80
I love jellyfish. I think most Asians love jellyfish. Yes, the animal is weird and many would never eat it, but I think the texture and the taste are absolutely wonderful. The jellyfish has an elastic texture, yet it is crunchy on the outside. Go figure.
Steamed Pork with Sweet Potatoes $16.60
The pork sits on a bed of sweet potatoes with a generous serving of sauce on top of this gorgeous mound. The pork is so soft and wonderful. It pairs well with the sweet potato as there is the combination of salty and sweet. Asians love incorporating sweetness into a dish, the sweet potato’s natural sweetness played the role quite well.
Hot Pot Beef $20.80
The look of this dish is quite scary. The beef is in a bowl of molten-like chilli oil. Luckily they have a slotted spoon for you to scoop out the beef without too much chilli oil attached. The beef is so soft and I guess I would call it silky. You don’t feel like you’re eating beef at all.
Diced Deep Fried Chicken with Hot Dry Chilli $18.80
I know this just looks like a plate of dried chillies, but in actual fact, there are small cubes of chicken hiding in the skins of the chillies. This dish just reminds me of popcorn chicken from KFC. I don’t like having to search through a mount of chillies to find a small piece of chicken.
Steamed and Deep Fried Chinese Bread served with Condensed Milk $9.80
I wouldn’t call this ‘bread’, these are mantous. I live off this when I go back to China. I’m more of a fan of the steamed mantou rather than the fried. The condensed milk makes this dish a dessert, but it can be also be eaten with savoury dishes as an alternative to rice.
By the end of the meal, my belly is full and my lips are quite numb. The chilli has taken its toll on me even though I tried to avoid it at any chance I had. The thing about Sichuan food is that each dish may not be as spicy as it looks. However, while you progress through the meal, each piece of food you put into your mouth, even when it’s not spicy, seems that little bit more spicy. By the end of the meal, you would have felt like you ate a chilli straight up. But give it some time and you will start to feel your tongue and lips again, then you’ll want to try it all over again.
Happy nom nom nom-ing!
Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant
1/272 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
T: (02) 9411 3298