Spicy Sichuan Restaurant

· Thursday December 8, 2016

Numbness is a feeling to enjoy while slurping and munching Sichuan hotpot. Small baubles of Sichuan pepper float through a bubbling vat of broth, and when they make it to your mouth a fiery tingling sensation takes over the taste buds. Some say that high levels of spice inhibit an appreciation of the flavours of foodstuffs, but in this case it’s an integral part of the hot pot experience. Yes, this involves burning lips, face-sweats and dripping noses, so maybe go with close friends.

Speaking of friends, this experience is a communal one. During a period filled with awkward work parties and family gatherings, getting together with the people you actually want to spend time with is a real treat. Groups of four are better than two, and groups of six are better than four. Everyone pays $30 for unlimited fixings and shares a one-time cost of $14-$16 for the soup.

Spicy Sichuan Restaurant sits near the end of Glebe Point Road closest to Broadway. Not to be confused with its neighbour, Red Chili Hot Pot Restaurant, which serves similar food and is also tasty. The broth at Spicy Sichuan, however, has a depth of flavor not to be beaten. Make a reservation over the phone for an evening later in the week and you’ll probably be told to come half an hour earlier or later.

For hot pot newcomers, this is how it works. Choose a soup type —- be it plain chicken, spicy Sichuan or a combination of both. Continue through the iPad ordering system to select mountains of sliced meats, mushrooms, tofus, fish balls, seafood, veggies, dumplings and noodles to your heart’s content. Chrysanthemum greens, or Tong-Ho, are a must, so delish! Before all the goodies arrive, head to the sauce station to select a combo of favourites from chopped chives to raw chilli to Bullhead BBQ sauce. Sesame sauce (much like tahini) is a must also, as is the raw garlic drenched in sesame oil.

When everything arrives, here are a few tips I’ve picked up from watching extensive Youtube videos by HP enthusiasts. Some things go into the broth straight away to cook slowly and absorb lots of flavour, like potato, fish balls and cabbage. Other things take a few minutes to cook but need to be checked regularly for doneness, such as dumplings, cauliflower, pork blood and fish. A few items need only a quick dip, the thinly sliced meats and greens. The greens are best to keep for the end of the process because they absorb all the slick spicy oil that should be coating all the dippings along the way.

Hot pot is epic. It literally changed my life —- I now own an electric table-top cooker, a two-sided stock pot and the 16 herbs and spices required to make Sichuan chilli oil. The one cut back of this meal is the next morning. Indulging in the spicy side of the pot has certain repercussions, but Sichuan hot pot is srsly yumtimes and totally worth it. Don’t let the ring of fire stop you from having the meal of a lifetime.