Dainty Sichuan

Written by THE FOOD SOCIETY on . Posted in $$ Moderately priced, $$$ A little bit fancy, Asian, Box Hill, Chinese, Noodle Bar, Seafood, VICTORIA

Dainty Sichuan
Location: Level 1, 2A Cambridge Street, Box Hill, VIC 3128
Contact: 03 9041 4318

I was absolutely ecstatic upon learning that the Box Hill strain had finally opened up along Cambridge Street – the original establishment is located in South Yarra and, from its inception until now, has managed to maintain a fervent adoration amongst locals. Elevated away form the roaring business of the main road below, Dainty Sichuan is quite a pretty place – a thin corridor gives way to a huge expanse of tables with lazy susans perched on top, and ornamental wooden panels enclose the eating areas. High partitions divide the room apart, so the dining experience is neither intrusive nor too cluttered at any time.

IMG_4202 IMG_4156 IMG_4167 IMG_4160 Upon being handed the picture-filled menu, I was immediately impressed by how comprehensive it was for hot pot – the menu features a wide range of soups, meats and vegetables, and goes on for pages and pages. Each individual is provided with a heating plate and an individual hot pot, so you are able to choose your own soup base (which means that if you prefer spicy soup and another person doesn’t, you don’t have to order the same soup bases).

It’s a very intelligent system, and it’s not hard to see why this establishment is already enjoying such popularity despite not having been open for that long. It is worth noting, however, that the menu is quite limited when it comes to the regular dishes – and it appears that most, if not all diners here dine for hot pot and order cooked dishes here and there as sides where needed.

IMG_4158 Ordering is easy and efficient – each table is given a white piece of paper to order, and you tick off the quantity of each item that you’d like. Soup bases can be ordered as flavours individually, or, if you’re looking for variety then there’s a number of ‘half/half’ soups – for example, you could order half mushroom and half spicy, which, mind you, is an absolutely killer concept.

If this is your first time visiting and you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to handle the spiciness, then it’s definitely worth ordering one of the half half soups so you don’t lock yourself into a night of battling with numb tastebuds.

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Mushroom and spicy soup ($8)

I will say though, that when Dainty Sichuan’s soup bases say spicy (they will be marked in the menu with the number of chillies), they really do mean business.

Now I wanted to highlight this to you because, in an act of being rather acutely silly (there’s really no better way to put it), I placed an order for the beer duck soup base. The word ‘beer’ must have stolen my attention, because evidently while I was so excited about the prospect of cooking my goods in beer-flavoured soup, I managed to completely not see that there were three chilli signs on it. This was so hot; my eyes were actually watering at the first taste & I definitely had my fair share of hallucinatory peppercorns!

Thankfully, after some swappage action, M was able to take the beer duck soup (which he absolutely loved) and I ended up with the mushroom soup base (which was equally incredible and a great substitute for non-spicy lovers). Phew, crisis averted.

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Beer duck hot pot ($12.8) – caution: hot!

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Just to give you an idea, we dished out some of the chilli oil from the beer duck soup and dear god – look how much we managed to scoop out on the first couple of scoops! Insanely spicy, and it’s not hard to see why.

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Mushroom soup base ($6)

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Seafood soup and spicy soup ($12)

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Spicy soup ($6)

As for the food, it really was hot pot haven.

I was blown away by the quality of the food offered, and the generosity as well – some of these platers were massive! I’ll let the photos do the talking, but a few of the table favourites included: the fried tofu, the mushroom combo, the beef and prawn meat balls and the fish slices (a couple of which I didn’t manage to take photos of).

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Prawn meatball ($10)

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Coriander beef meat balls ($8)

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Vegetables combo ($16)

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Beef and lamb combo ($28) + vermicelli and rice cakes($5 each)

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Potato noodle 

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Rice cakes ($5)

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We also ordered a variety of seafood (calamari $8; cuttlefish $8 etc.)

IMG_4191 If you’re a lover of hot pot, Dainty Sichuan in Box Hill offers the ultimate experience. And whether you’re a lover of spicy food or not, there’s definitely a little something for everyone.

Just be wary that you’re guaranteed to walk out smelling of spices by the time you leave.

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