Dainty Sichuan is (now) located in South Yarra, in the space that used to belong to Flower Harbour (which, as nice as it looked, was not very nice!). We had been meaning to eat here for quite some time, as we heard that the food is great, if you can handle spicy dishes.
We knew we were in for some pain as we walked into the restaurant, as we were greeted by a drinks fridge stocked full of 1L bottles of milk, in close reach of both sections of the dining room. Bring it on!
It was pretty quiet when we arrived – around 5:30 on a Friday night – so we didn’t have to wait in line, and we were given a 4 seater table (for the two of us) on the lower level, in front of the windows that look out onto Toorak Road.
Our waitress handed us our menus, we flipped the pages, and smiled. Every dish has a rating system for spice levels – from no chillies (mild) to three chillies (“Very Very Hot”). Make no mistake, three chillies is indeed “Very Very Hot”, and should probably be renamed to three million chillies, as that must be around the number that they go through a week!
Looking at the menu, you can’t help but be a little nervous – most dishes are literally swimming in a sea of chillies and szechuan peppercorns – so it’s a good idea to order some sides that will cool the mouth.
For this purpose, we chose one of our favourites – “Garlic Cucumber” ($9.80). It’s topped with a sizable mound of garlic (don’t worry, it’s not raw) and has a sesame oil and light soy sauce.
We also got some “Steamed Pork Dumplings” (6 for $6.80) which, although coming without any dipping sauce, were quite juicy and also did a good job of breaking up the heat from the two main sized courses we had.
The first main we received was the 2 chilli rated “Lamb Slices in Chilli and Cumin” ($24.80). It was a stir-fry, the cumin nicely balancing out the tender lamb.
Our favourite for the night, however, was the 3 chilli rated “Stir-fried Pipis” ($28.80) in, you guessed it, chillis and szechuan pepper. This dish was sublime – and super excellent crazy hot! The pipis were quite large, but it didn’t take us long to devour the whole plate. Our tissues got quite a workout on this one – lucky we had a Coke ($2.50) and a Tsing Tao beer ($6) to wash it all down.
In summary, we had a great meal at Dainty Sichuan, although next time I think we’ll just order one main as the servings are huge! Luckily they have a cache of takeaway containers stashed in the waiter stations so you can take all the leftovers with you.
It’s not the cheapest place around, but it’s by far the spiciest, and one of the best representations of Sichuan cuisine you’ll find in Melbourne.