Let it be known that I have a pathetic chilli tolerance. What is a slightly unpleasant heat in Sir D's mouth translates as a burning fire made of a million chillies in mine, and requires gallons of water (or milk, or rice) to extinguish. So I'm a bit hesitant to join Sir D's family for dinner at Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant since Sichuan food is known for packing quite a lot of heat.
Chinese Tea - $1pp
It's a Thursday night but the place is packed and we have to wait for a table. Sir D has been before with his family so I let them take charge of the ordering for the most part. The menu is pretty substantial and there are chillies alongside the name of the dish to denote the spicy ones.
Special crispy duck (half) - $20.80
We start with a non-spicy dish to satisfy our tastebuds before they get burnt off. Half a duck arrives on our table and the skin is brown and crisp with tender, succulent meat. I'm usually a bit wary of things that claim to be "special" (especially "special sauce") but this duck is cooked and seasoned nicely with a bit of a soy sauce flavour in the skin.
Steamed and deep-fried Chinese bread served with condensed milk (8 pcs) - $9.80
After eating at Red Chilli the first time, Sir D raved about the fried mantou. The dish usually comes with 4 steamed, pristine white buns and 4 golden, deep fried ones but we throw being healthy out the door and ask for them all to be deep fried. And oh they are good - they come out hot and crisp on the outside almost like a doughnut. They arrive with a small bowl of condensed milk which I like to slather all over the bread. Bliss.
Deep fried chicken dices with dried chillies - $18.80
A spicy dish (with 2 chillies on the menu!) of deep fried chicken and dried chillies arrives and it is bright red and absolutely loaded with dried chilli. On first glance it even looks like there is more chilli than actual chicken, but digging around a bit reveals some lightly battered chicken pieces. Although there isn't any chilli sauce on the chicken, it's still quite hot even after I pick off all the chilli flecks and seeds - consuming two of the pieces is enough for me to start drinking some tea.
Stir fried green beans with pork mince - $16.80
Thankfully we've ordered some green beans which aren't spicy but pleasantly garlicky. These are stir fried with some pork mince and though they're a little greasier than I've seen before they're still tasty.
Bean jelly with peanuts in a sour and spicy sauce - $7.80
I spot a bean jelly on the menu that intrigues me and I order it. It comes out as slippery translucent noodles in a sour and spicy sauce and served cold. Even though it's a chilled dish, the chilli still comes through and despite my poor chilli tolerance I find it quite addictive.
Stir fried shredded pork in Peking sauce and shallots - $18.80
We're still a little hungry so we order one more dish - a stir fried shredded pork in Peking sauce. This is served Peking duck style, with thin pancakes to wrap around the pork and some shallots. It's quite a heavy dish with the sweet and sticky Peking sauce and the meat being quite oily, and I declare defeat after one pancake.
Despite my initial fears of having to gulp down litres of milk to save my burning mouth after dinner, there were a lot of non-spicy dishes on offer at Red Chilli which is great for a chilli wimp like myself. Even the dishes marked with one chilli were tolerable and though I was going into a food coma after all the heavy and greasy dishes, I would definitely come back even if it was just for those deep fried mantou!
Level 1, 272 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
Ph: +61 2 9411 3298
Open 7 days, 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30pm-10.30pm
Other locations: Chinatown, Glebe, Burwood