Lvl 2 / 206 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9650-2188
So, if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (or are ever in my general vicinity, really), I'm sure you will have realised I'm addicted to Sichuan food, and to chilli in general. When I posted about Sichuan food back in September, it was very much a cooking post, and I even mentioned that I hadn't been that impressed by Dainty Sichuan before then. Well, that's certainly all changed! Since the Bourke Street location opened, I've visited four times and even suffer Sichuan pepercorn and chilli withdrawals if it's been a while! Definitely obsessed.
For today's post I'd like to share with you the different dishes we've tried so far. I haven't taken note of the exact prices (sorry!) but the normal dishes tend to be around $25-30, and they have a few big or deluxe dishes for about $45. Also, the portions are huge, so it's best to go in a group!
One of my favourites is the beans with minced pork. So delicious! I'm pretty sure the beans themselves are deep fried, making the skin wrinkly and giving them an amazing texture, and they are positively zingy with ground Sichuan peppercorns! We always, always, order this dish!
|Green beans with minced pork|
Gong Bao chicken - another favourite, this one has boneless pieces of chicken in a spicy, sticky sauce.
|Gong Bao Chicken|
The below picture was what we ordered for lunch for three people (eep!) when Billy came to town. It was totally a case of our eyes being bigger than our stomachs! After this lunch, I was literally eating the leftovers for a week! Phew! It also happened to be like a 38C day, so we were really grateful for Dainty's insane airconditioning!
|Lunch for 3|
I love the lamb skewers! I think these are Xinjiang-style: in addition to the heat from the chilli, and the sour Sichuan peppercorns, these are seasoned with a hefty dose of cumin.
We were recommended the Chonqing Chilli Chicken by one of the waitresses on this visit, as it's one of their specialities. I couldn't believe how much I liked it! There is a rather terrifying amount of dried chilli on the plate, with many deep-fried chicken wings, chopped up into tiny chopstickable pieces. The chicken is indeed, very spicy, but also extremely sour and tingly. (I imagine that the chicken pieces are dipped in ground Sichuan peppercorns before being deep fried). The texture can be pretty challenging, especially if you're used to eating boneless chicken pieces, but there is something really compelling about the combo of crisp skin and chewy, cartilaginous meat. (Fuchsia Dunlop has a wonderful chapter in Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper about different textures in Chinese cuisine!)
|Chongqing Chilli Chicken|
On another night, I brought an old supervisor of mine to Dainty, as a thank-you to her for being a reference on a (successful!) job application of mine. Although, now I reflect on it, I'm not sure if taking a Dainty-virgin for hotpot is a reward or a punishment....
|Small Hotpot - half spicy, half not-spicy|
So here's what we ordered to go in the hotpot. (Plus a plate of raw beef kebabs that isn't pictured). You can see we were playing it quite safe with our choices, maybe next time I'll try a bit of offal or some vegetables I've never heard of before. Hot tip: I love potato noodles, but they're impossible to fish out of the bubbling hot broth. Also, that sesame dipping sauce is all kinds of amazing!
|Hotpot Additions: Shiitake mushrooms, potato noodles, wombok cabbage, tender beef, broad bean sauce, sesame sauce, crispy bamboo shoots|
This hotpot, plus a serve of the beans with minced pork and gong bao chicken made a generous meal for three people. (And I can't believe we practically finished it all!)
And finally, on Saturday night I came to Dainty in a group of eleven, to celebrate my birthday! A big thank-you to my friends for enduring the cray cray spicy food and chilli sweats! (Seriously, not the most sensible idea to go to Dainty all dressed up - my makeup totally melted off and my hair deflated!) But, it was totally worth it!
The below sweet and sour pork ribs weren't spicy at all, but were still quite strongly flavoured with a sticky sweet sauce, and were (from memory) about $18 for a small entree-sized plate. We got two for the table. (They're similar to the sweet and sour pork ribs I made from Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe).
|Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs|
|Mixed Seafood and Vegetables|
|Pork Ribs with tendons, fat, lotus roots|
|Chongqing Chilli Chicken|
Yay for chilli! Although having said that, I always need a bottle or jug of soy milk alongside to help cool things down (and enable me to keep eating!)
Do you have a favourite Dainty Sichuan (or general Sichuan) dish? I still want to try the "Ants climbing up the trees" noodle dish, but they don't serve it at the city location. Any must-try dishes for me? What are your favourite additions to hotpot?