While I aim to write the decisive guide to Melbourne, sometimes it is very hard to be decisive.

As I was writing this post Sichuan Dining Room had me veering from HOT to NOT to HOT to NOT again. As you can see  in the end I’ve leaned towards HOT. Mainly because our meal was sufficiently interesting to entice me to sample more of the restaurant’s Sichuanese dishes – though I can’t say I would necessarily recommend our particular dish choices.

On a weekday lunch hour I joined Kat and her husband at the plastic day-glo restaurant. Although I’d hesitate to call it a restaurant, it’s got more of a cafeteria feel to it, with the big flatscreen TVs broadcasting Chinese history soaps, perfunctory service and waitstaff with a seemingly limited ability to speak English (easily forgiven when our Chinese waitress has the most beautiful flawless skin I’ve ever seen – I digress).

There is another Sichuan Dining Room in Hawthorn which Kat highly recommends (we’re not sure if there is a link with this city establishment) and based on her previous Hawthorn dining experience we ordered fried sweet corn with egg yolk ($15.80) and one of few non-fried dishes on the menu, steamed pork ribs with ground rice ($16.80) with three bowls heaped with steamed rice ($1.50 each).

Both dishes were great paired with rice – the pork was soft and not too fatty, with a good hit of chilli. I’m not sure why it was presented wrapped on an aluminium pedestal, so if someone can enlighten me that’d be great. The sweet corn was an alarming orange colour and looked like it’d been sprinkled with whatever artificial substance Burger Kings are made of, but they tasted pretty good, sort of just like salty pops of corn. Kat said that the Hawthorn version was much better, though this wasn’t bad. Having never had the dish before I can’t really tell you whether it was a good or bad version, but I suspect it was on the wrong side of authenticity.

Kat accompanied her meal with a hot mango milk tea with sago pearls ($3.50) while I had the coconut juice with grass jelly ($4). As you can see, they both looked like iced coffee and were served to us barely lukewarm, so I’d avoid ordering from the housemade drinks menu.

I’ve had good reports from Jess about their soup noodles, and my meal certainly wasn’t firmly NOT – so I’m happy to give Sichuan Dining Room another try.

  • Sichuan Dining Room, Mid City Arcade Sh0p 3-5/ 194-200 Bourke St, Melbourne +61 3 9663 5472