At the end of a small laneway off Little Bourke Street, between Exhibition and Russell Streets. There is also laneway access from Lonsdale Street.PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
Devotees of the popular Dainty Sichuan restaurant will be pleased to know that when the mood strikes a decent chilli hit can still be found in Melbourne’s CBD. The sudden closure and relocation of the Dainty institution to Toorak caused quite a stir among local chilli fiends, but Sichuan House, the sibling of the established Box Hill eatery of the same name, has picked up the baton and still delivers classic dishes of Northern China awash with dried red chillies and Sichuan pepper. Occupying the same laneway position as Dainty Sichuan, and retaining many of the staff as well as its unpretentious surrounds, it seems not much is different here beyond the name. Be warned: as before, it is not uncommon to see a long queue snaking down the stairs awaiting admittance.
The menu remains largely unchanged, with traditional specialties such as “ants climbing trees”, green beans with spicy pork and a selection of hotpots available. The signature dish “Chong Qing chicken” (a huge mound of salty, crunchy chicken pieces, dried chillies, Sichuan pepper and garlic that doesn’t shy away from the spice quotient and remains extremely addictive) is still firmly entrenched here. Sichuan House also offers plenty of tasty, milder offerings for those who don’t require as sweaty a brow as their fellow diners. There is a small selection of beers and several soft options to ease heated palates as well as a generous BYO policy with negligible corkage for wine lovers. A cash-only policy also helps to keep things simple.