After all these years I still haven’t been to the original Dainty Sichuan Restaurant in South Yarra. But to make up for it, I’ve dined at its sibling quite a few times already.
The Box Hill version serves mainly hotpot and a few of the dishes that its older half serves which is totally fine with me because the hot pot here is superb. I’ve been to too many of them in China so I know what to expect and this is up there with the authentic and delicious types typically found in China.
First of all, you get to choose your own sauces from a big table of goodies. Every time I see the table, I just get confused and end up adding a bit of each (which is not that bad) since there’s just so much choice available. If you didn’t like your decision or you didn’t get enough, you can always go for a top up.
Second, each diner gets their own little pot. This makes the dining experience a bit more formal and a bit less messy. You can also choose the soup base that suits your own taste which is great since Yuye doesn’t like chilli.
Thirdly, the plates of raw ingredients are served on pristine white plates garnished and plated in a way that’s quite pleasing to the eye. In other words, it’s a hot pot restaurant with a bit more class compared to your usual hot pot joints (especially those that’s all you can eat!).
And like in China, you fill out a form of the dishes you want and hand that to the waitress.
The downside of course is that you’ll end up paying a few more bucks, but hey, that’s all okay because the food quality here is a lot better.
Yuye got the mushroom soup base ($6) the first time we came which was quite…mushroomy. It wasn’t necessary in hindsight as we ordered mushrooms anyway.
I just got the stock soup ($4) which was totally sufficient as it’s already quite tasty and the soup just gets filled with all sorts of flavours from the raw ingredients anyway. So this is our soup base of choice, unless if I wanted a chilli one. There are plenty to choose from to cater to your taste.
On most occasions, we order a serving of lamb (sometimes 2 – $8 each) or beef ($8). Sometimes, it’s a mix of the 2 like the plate below ($28). That was a lot of meat mind you, I believe it’s 4 servings so you save $4 if you have a large group and can eat this much.
We’ve also ordered the pork belly ($8) which was quite nice too. The good thing is the meats are all evenly and nicely cut and are quite fresh.
Seafood and balls of all types are also a specialty here as the balls are made fresh. My favourite of them is the pork and coriander balls ($8) and the squid ones are not bad too.
You can’t eat hotpot without having mushrooms and this is the best one I think – the mixed mushroom combo ($18) with a bit of everything.
And of course you have the choice of different tofus and veggies too. I learnt my lesson to not order too much veggie though as many of the dishes (like the mushroom combo) come with a lot of lettuce and cabbage underneath to prop them up. With that said, if you really like eating veggies in your hotpot, I recommend getting the mixed veggie combo ($16) as it’s huge!
How can I forget my chilli and garlic pork belly cold dish! It’s huge and very chilli so beware of over ordering. We still love it though as the garlic accentuates the sweetness of the pork belly and I don’t mind a bit of fire in my mouth every now and then. Just don’t get this and pork belly in your hotpot as that was pork belly overload even for us.
When it gets too chilli, a cold glass of plum juice is the way to go. You can order them in a jug and drink to your heart’s content. It is a very refreshing drink that can cut chilli and oiliness.
When you feel like hot pot, think twice about going to an all you can eat joint and give Dainty Sichuan Food a go! You won’t regret the experience. Especially now that the South Yarra store is under renovations, there’s even more reason to visit its awesome sibling in Box Hill!
Dainty Sichuan Food, Box Hill
Phone: (03) 9041 4318
2A Cambridge Street, Box Hill, Level 1