Looking for new recommendations, I asked fellow food writer Anna King Shahab what her latest favourites were. She mentioned three places, but since we were really hungry we decided to go with Spicy Cuisine because she said it’s not as busy as some of the other places on Dominion Road. Well not yet.
Turns out it was a great call and we would head back there in a heartbeat – even though it certainly wasn’t one of the prettiest places we’ve ever dined in. Extremely plain, and a bit cold, it’s definitely not a place to impress a date. Unless of course they are really all about the food, like us.
We ordered the Egg and Chive pancake ($3.50), Braised Pork Belly with vermicelli ($20), Hot and Sour Cold Fern Root Noodles ($6) and Broccoli with garlic sauce ($14). Every single dish was fantastic and we greedily devoured them all.
It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I guess it would have to be the pork if we did. Since we had ordered the spicy cold noodles, we opted for something with no spice for a meat dish, to provide a contrast. The braised pork belly was huge, steaming and seriously generous on the pork side of things. It was perfect comfort food with good chunks of fat and meat – that almost instantly melted in your mouth – vermicelli and cabbage, all bathed in a simple savoury stew-like sauce. It was a mystery to us how meat with so much fat didn’t make the dish heavy and oily, but it really didn’t. The translucent thickish vermicelli sucked up the flavour and colour of the sauce, like they were made for each other – and the cabbage provided perfect texture contrast.
Anna had particularly mentioned that we should try the fern root noodles in the hot and sour sauce and I’m really glad she did as I might have looked past them under the Cold Dishes section. They were truly delightful with the vinegar soy combination and just enough chilli to excite and numb your lips, without paralysing them completely. The Egg and Chive pancake was golden crispy fried goodness on the outside and extremely chivey on the inside – a nice fresh complement to the dishes. The broccoli, while simple, was totally addictive with its light garlicky glaze and perfectly cooked texture – crunchy without being borderline raw.
We ate way more than we needed and still had a serving each of Hot and Sour noodles and pork for lunch the next day. We will definitely be back to try more of this Sichuan delightfulness.