Looks are deceiving at Sichuan Style Restaurant. Firstly, I thought the place was called Hot & Spicy (!), and its kitschy Chinese décor held a sense of foreboding. The hint of the deliciousness to come was a photocopy of the chef’s certificate on the door, which heralds Chef Jian Wen’s honour as an ‘International Top-Level Chef’ by the League of Chinese Master Chefs. If you say that out loud, it sounds like a parody of a Marvel superhero group.
The second thing that proved that this was going to be a great evening was how busy it was at 5:30pm. It was nearly full and every empty table had a reserved sign on it; booking is essential at Sichuan Style if you want any chance of getting a table. Middle Brother who had moved to Hamilton a couple of months ago sold this place as the best Chinese food in ‘The Tron’.
If you’re a visual person, the entire menu in pictorial is on the iPad which is offered to you as well as the more traditional A3-size laminated menu. The menu is extensive, and there is much to sample.
The steamed eggplant in spicy garlic sauce ($8.80) is fragrant and delicious. The lamb in cumin ($18.80) has a warm spicy kick.
The stir-fried pork and leek in soy bean paste ($18.80) is sauteed thinly-sliced belly pork; the fatty morsels held the salty paste well.
The chicken stew with gingko nuts soup ($28.80) one of Sichuan Style’s recommended dishes, and comes served in a clay pot. Gingko nuts are known for enhancing memory; though I’m not sure my mental acuity improved after drinking this flavourful soup. Note: this is large enough for a dozen people.
Dan dan noodles are a famous traditional Sichuan noodle dish, and the version here ($9.80) is excellent. The noodles are served with bok choy, preserved mustard, roasted peanuts, marinated minced pork sprinkled with sesame seeds and spring onions in a savoury broth, and you mix all the ingredients before eating. This typically comes with chilli oil, but you can also ask for a mild version.
We also got a bowl of their handmade noodles with chicken and vegetables ($9.80). This was tasty as well, but compared to the more spicy dishes tasted somewhat bland.
The Sichuan style dumplings ($9.80) is my pick of the dishes. The savoury pork filling in slightly chewy dumpling skin is complemented perfectly by the spicy hot sauce, fried garlic and roasted peanuts. Perfect.
The steamed dumpling ($10.80) looked beautiful but just could not compete on taste.
We went completely overboard with the order, but everything was delicious and I can’t wait to come back to try other items on the menu. We were eyeballing dishes going to the other tables, and they all looked fantastic. Next time, I’m ordering one of those giant steamed buns!
Sichuan Style Restaurant
24 Collingwood Street, Hamilton
Ph: 07-839 6959
Open 7 days: 12 noon – 10pm (alcohol is served from 5pm)