Chilli, spice, heat and some fire perhaps comes in different shapes and sizes and I have to say the mind of the individual will find one spice or chilli hotter than their friends. A scale that each of us hold to our own minds inception which will allow us to begin but also will determine the stopping point.
An acceptance of a kind invitation has lead me with some fine chilli eating companions to Sichuan House Seafood, located in Richmond. Sister restaurant to that of Sichuan House, Melbourne. Owner Peter Lin Hu, a true lover of not only food but takes great pride in what his restaurants deliver.
It was with great warmth we were welcomed into his restaurant as if it was like his home, combined with large gatherings of family it was as though we had been adopted.
Peter explains to us that Sichuan cuisine has been the number 1 cuisine ranked by foodies for more than half a century even across in Chine. However a lot of us don't know that their are 2 types of Sichuan food; Chongqing and Chengdu.
The typical dish in Chongqing is the Chonquin chicken, and the dishes tend to be somewhat heavily spicy, salty and oily. The Chengdu style (Chengdu being the capital city of the Sichuan province) are spicy and vary in flavour and taste. Mapo tofu, fish flavoured eggplant and ant clim tree are a few selections from this style.
With this mind set, we choose not to select our dishes but have those who know Sichuan better to order for us, to make it even more so adventurous.
Black fungus in fresh chilli sauce, appears to the mind as a not so hot dish although listed as a 2 chilli ranking. These cured black mushrooms served cold, have soaked up every inch of chilli possible, so much though it's heat isn't that where it creeps up on you, it's the type that comes out and smacks you in the face. Chilli sweats begin as you devour but fear not, accompanying dishes come to sooth that heat down.
Steamed free range chicken in a spicy sauce which holds a 3 ranked heat level is not shy to tell you it's hot. Although I must admit, once you have had the mushrooms and this, your lips are so numb that your not quite sure which one is setting your face on fire.
The delightful cooling agents of the salted cucumber in sesame and the seasoned beef shank slices were a blessing to some on the table, while the others still continued to stay strong and fight that chilli heat. The cucumber was flavoursome and light and being the fan of the sesame flavours at the moment a true winner for me. It withdrew the heat straight away with the salt absorbing the heat. The beef subtle in flavours and dried. A slight refresh before the second round comes our way.
A serving of juicy tea smoked duck, tender and immaculate. A definite crowd pleaser for any one. Soft scented tea flavour is hinted through the golden skin and has seeped ever so lightly into the meat.
The Barramundi in a spicy sauce was tasty. Hot sure, but the fish didn't seem to collect as much heat as to that of some of our chicken dishes. Perhaps the style of cooking and preparation. The flesh was delicate and cooked perfectly, coming away from the bone beautifully. The spiced sauce of which it sat in was the holder of the heat, so a small hint for those who have a weakness, don't pour as much as your friend over the top. You may end up in pain.
Now if you're one that wants to put their pants on fire then the dish for you is that of the Deep fried marinated chicken with baked chilli. Wow mama it's intense, but so yum.
Tiny chicken ribs are coated and fried in something like the KFC original coating, but better. Each rib hidden away under the mountain of backed chilli, allowing that heat to soak into these little bite sized gems. It's sure to get every sense of yours going, the nose, the eyes, the sweats. As much as you may be in chilli pain, their is no stopping you from eating.
And yes their is always one person in the party to do that well know thing that causes the most severe pain of all..... touching your eye with chilli soaked fingers. Guilty as charged, it was me.
The last of the dishes was the ever so famous Kung Pao chicken. Salty but sweetish in flavours and rather mild in spice was a great additive to the array of our dishes this evening. Tender chicken pieces almost glazed in the traditional sauce and showered with roasted nuts, who wouldn't be a fan of this popular sichuan meal?
Bursting at the seams along with everyone settling into their food coma's we were subdued into some soup dumplings, which actually worked as a beautiful cleanser, although the serving was huge, I can't be too sure how we ate them all? Delicate, flavoursome and delicious little bundles are something not to pass up.
Knowledge is one thing but Pride is something else, and with these both in hand Peter has developed a great personal dining experience. With this and great company of friends, my evening was flawless.
I would do it again with out hesitation, even if at times my face turned numb from the heat, but mind over matter, scrumptious food and great companions are sure to assist you in conquering any dosage of chilli.
Sichuan House Seafood
395 Victoria Street