Sichuan, Szechuan, Szechwan.
No matter how you prefer to spell it, for me it means one thing – delicious, spicy Chinese food!
Sichuan Province in South West China has wild, rugged mountains to the west and a lush fertile basin of land to the east. It is home to more than 83 million people and far fewer precious Giant Pandas. It’s also the natural habitat of the endangered Red Panda and vulnerable Snow Leopard. Its capital, Chengdu, attracts students from all over the world to study at its prestigious Chinese Medicine Schools. And if you fancy a day trip – and a climb! – the Leshan Giant Buddha (the largest stone Buddha in the world) is worth the hike. I know. I’ve done it!
But for me, all of these wonders pale against the firey majesty of a bowl of Dan Dan Noodles, Mapo Tofu or Shui Zhu Yu (Sichuan Boiled Fish).
But where can you get your fix of Sichuan peppercorns, Chongqing chilli sauce and doubanjiang (red chilli paste) without travelling to China? Where is the best Sichuan food in Melbourne?
Let us guide you.
Dainty Sichuan Food isn’t one restaurant, but a whole stable of eateries dedicated to the wonders of Sichuan cuisine.
From its original restaurant in Collingwood, the Dainty Sichuan brand has opened a range of dining spaces across the city and beyond. Many ingredients are imported, to ensure their authenticity. The team of chefs also maintain strong links with professionals back in Sichuan and Chongqing.
Everyone has their favourite when it comes to selecting which Dainty Sichuan incarnation offers the best Sichuan food in Melbourne. However, we will highlight just a few of the better known establishments.
If you find yourself in Melbourne and fancy some dumplings, why not take a look at our recommendations?
176 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, VIC 3141
If you like your Boiling Fish in Golden Basin to look like a red sea of chillies, then this is the place for you. Other popular dishes include the Cumin Lamb Slices and – if you are feeling adventurous – the Braised Tripe Combo. There is also a dedicated Sichuan hot pot menu if share plates aren’t your thing.
With a spacious dining space fitted out in traditional Chinese decor, it as great place to try when you have few mouths to feed.
The South Yarra branch is the flagship restaurant of the group, but it also has sister joints around Melbourne:
- Dainty Sichuan Hot Pot CBD – A great place for groups.
- Dainty Sichuan Food Box Hill – Family friendly with a generous hot pot menu.
- Dainty Sichuan – in The Glen Shopping Centre, Glen Waverley. More than one reviewers raves about their Cold Noodle Entree.
Are you keen on finding a good Chinese restaurant in Sydney? Take a look at our guide to the best.
Box Hill Central, 1 Main Street, Box Hill, VIC 3128
Although there are currently 4 Tina’s Noodle Kitchens operating, my favourite is the Box Hill outlet.
Here you can slurp your contented way through huge bowls of noodle-laidened soup. The broths come in 2 varieties – a milky, boned-based style – or the one that sings ‘Sichuan’ to me, rich with chilli oil. The quality of the food and the size of the portions makes this a cheap and filling meal.
Perhaps the heat of Sichuan cooking is too much for you? If you feel like something milder, take a look at our guide to Yum Cha Restaurants in Melbourne.
Located in Chadstone Shopping Centre at 1341 Dandenong Rd, Malvern East, VIC 3145
As the name suggests, this is Sichuan fire and heat tailored for the shopping mall food court where speed and convenience are the law. Not surprisingly, noodles are the draw here, though there are a few other offerings. Our choice is the signature Chilli Chicken soups which pack just enough punch to set you up for your next round of retail therapy.
338 Clayton Rd, Clayton, VIC 3168
Although fish isn’t the only thing on the menu, this restaurant has a big seafood focus. The other selling point is the use of charcoal in the cooking process, which really adds to the flavour of the grilled dishes.
The Crab in Hot and Spicy sauce is a real winner. Similarly, the Spicy Cumin Grilled Fish will have your taste buds singing happily.
Brisbane has a great selection of Dumpling restaurants to try. Here are a few of our favourites.
House of Delight
Level 1, 52 Montclair Avenue, Glen Waverley, VIC 3150 – (03) 9560 2898
Sadly, this temple to Chinese food doesn’t currently have a website. However, it is still worth a Google and trip to Glen Waverley as I definitely rate it for some of best Sichuan food in Melbourne.
I include it thanks to my friend Anna. Now admittedly Anna isn’t a Sichuan native, but she is Chinese born and has a passion for the spicy flavours of the region. When I asked her where she would go for Sichuan food, she immediately recommended this restaurant. And that’s good enough for me!
House of Delight offers 2 eating options. You can pick your favourites from the a la carte menu, or embrace the excess of Sichuan-style hot pot. I say ‘excess’ as the range of ingredients on offer is quite mind-blowing. The fresh prawns and crabs deserve a special mention.
Part of the beauty of enjoying the hot pot buffet at this restaurant is that each diner has their own hot pot. This means that individual tastes for soup bases, proteins and those all important spices can be perfectly accommodated. This is fabulous if you are a heat-addict, but your partner breaks out in a sweat at the mere thought of a chilli.
It’s also worth noting that House of Delight, apart from being one of the best Sichuan restaurants in Melbourne, also offers Cantonese and Shanghaiese dishes.
Of course, Sichuan isn’t the only option if you want to eat Chinese food. Take a look at our guide to the Best Chinese Restaurants in Melbourne for some more ideas.
22-26 Corrs Ln, Melbourne, VIC 3000 – (03) 9650 8589
Bang in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown, we hope that this icon of Sichuan fare has successfully re-opened (as promised) post-Lockdowns.
Climb the stairs through the arch and disappear into a world of Szechuan peppercorn-scented bliss. The Kung Pao Chicken is rightfully prized and the Spicy Mud Crab Tower delivers on both heat and theatre. They also do a mean Stir-Fried Green Beans – a deceptively simple belter of a dish – and get rave reviews for their Cumin Lamb Ribs.
This is a great choice for some of the best Sichuan food in Melbourne if you’re looking to fill up on a budget.
The Chinatown in Sydney is a foodies dream. Here are some of our top places for Yum Cha.
Level 1/276 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 – (03) 9663 9898
The interior design might be a bit dated, but the cooking is very authentic. If you can’t tolerate a decent hit of spice, this probably isn’t the best Chinese restaurant for you to try.
The Fish Fillets in Hot Chilli Oil are excellent and the Braised Sichuan Eggplant is a must order. Once again, customers can’t get enough of Charming Spice’s take on the well-known Sichuan classic – Kung Pao Chicken.
389 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Yes, the name might be a tad off-putting for some of us, but the food is the real deal.
The soups are consistently well-received with the Spicy Fish Soup being a firm favourite with regulars. I’ve also heard good things about the Spicy Stir-Fried Pork with Green Chillies and the Mapo Tofu with Mince Pork.
Situated right next to trendy Hardware Lane, this is a good choice for a cheap feed if you feel like something spicy.
Feel like some spice, but want a change from Chinese? Maybe you should have a look at our Best Korean BBQ Restaurants in Melbourne.
Shop 2 & 15 Level/1 206 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
And we can’t really finish our current rundown of some of the some Sichuan food in Melbourne without mentioning China Chilli.
This place is famous for its hot pot. The selection is huge and the produce fresh. There is also a large a la carte menu covering all the stars of Sichuan cuisine and a few lesser known delicacies. The Braised and Stir-Fried Chicken in Chilli Oil has that perfect balance of heat, flavour and zing.
China Chill has a sister restaurant in Box Hill (Spicy Sichuan) and a number of outlets in Sydney, where the group began.
In Sydney and peckish for some Dumplings? We’ve got you covered.