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Given the stress I had endured in the past few weeks, all leading up to my Ph.D confirmation held on Friday (officially confirmed, with my life signed over to this degree for the next few years), I decided to give myself a little breather over the weekend. Today was spent catching up with J.ma and we decided to try out Dainty Sichuan.
I wasn’t sure what I had expected for the restaurant’s interior decor but it certainly wasn’t this. The interior was very clean and the art works+decorations added a modern and sleek twist to Asian charm.
Now these are my favourite types of menus: vibrant and colourful photographs of every single item. It makes deciding much easier. Or not, if they all look delicious…
There was certainly nothing ‘dainty’ about the dishes on this page. Deadly is more like it…
Most of the menu are given spicy rankings of one to three chilli, with three ranking the hottest. The items on this page were definitely the ones to avoid. Never have I seen so much chilli in one dish before. To such an extent that you may as well be eating raw chilli… I think.
The service at Dainty Sichuan was very efficient and within 10 minutes, our order was served piping hot to our table.
Small steamed bun/ Xiao long bao - filled with pork mince and soup.
Firstly, the eating utensils assigned to each seating was a pair of chopsticks and no spoon. When the dumplings were brought to our table, still no spoon. Before we had realised, the waitress had walked off and we had to flag down another one a few minutes later to make the request. A few seconds later, she brought to us not Asian soup spoons but normal spoons. It makes the eating process more complicated and messier! Secondly, there seemed to be an inconsistency with the amount of soup present in each dumpling. I tried one first and there was hardly any soup in it. I relayed this observation to J.ma, who bit into hers expecting minimal soup and was surprised by the spurting of soup from the dumpling. The taste and texture of the pork filling was pretty much spot on but the dumpling skin itself was thicker, less delicate and more flour-y than normal.
Sichuan homestyle fried pork with mushroom.
The pork was very tender and surprisingly not too spicy. While the flavours were well defined (soy-sort of savoury), I did find it to be a little too salty for my liking. Its saltiness reminded me of a more saltier version of Chinese roast pork belly (as did its texture save for the crackling). I would highly recommend eating this dish with plain rice rather than a fried rice option.
Sichuan stirfried rice.
The fried rice was also quite flavoured and together with the fried pork dish, the combination was a little too potent for the palate. I quite liked the fried rice and would have enjoyed eating it solo without any pork accompaniment. The item description was lacking but I think there were pork pieces throughout the rice and thus resulted in a slight pork overdose.
Such basic dishes with basic ingredients used and yet the flavours were explosive. The Sichuan flavours gave off a very strong aroma and a nice spicy kick that provided a subtle burning sensation after each bite. Our selected dishes were either given a chilli rating of none or one and J.ma thinks we can be more adventurous next time by selecting spicier dishes. In other words, we needed to be more daring!
Both dishes did become more difficult to finish off as we ate our way through the plates and this was most likely due to both dishes being super oily. It became worse as the meal progressed and the oiliness is likely to be the reason why such basic dishes came across tastier than expected. At first anyway. The oiliness was evident in the shiny glean left behind on our plates and the slimy texture on our lips. Even the veggies were too oily to even still be considered healthy options.
It’s a good thing we ordered tea. It definitely helped to counter the oiliness.
The tea could only get us so far and only the xiao long baos were finished. This is the remainder of our meals that ended up in takeaway boxes. The pork looked practically untouched! It’s also worth noting that the serving sizes were very generous.
With the spicy Sichuan touch making an appearance in many of the dishes on their menu, it’s not difficult to see why so many of Melbourne’s population has taken a liking to Dainty Sichuan. The excessive oil use in the dishes needs to be reduced but the fast-paced service, surroundings and cheap prices far outweighs this one negative aspect.
176 Toorak Rd,
South Yarra, Victoria, 3141.
(03) 9078 1686