209 Little Bourke street, Melbourne
I’m a bit behind on my restaurant blogging – this one is from last year, a bit after Christmas. We went to Spicy Fish with Bo, Christine and Ormi, and as you can see, there was a fairly substantial line. Bo put his name down and I think we waited about 15-20 minutes for a table, which was alright.
We had to order the spicy fish ($25.80), which also comes in single serve sizes.
James said he came here with some work colleagues once, one of whom is a pretty big guy with a big appetite. James ordered the single serve spicy fish and this guy ordered the family size spicy fish, and the waiter said it might be too much for him to eat on his own. The guy was like “Don’t tell me what is too much for me, I know how much I’m capable of eating”, and ordered another few dishes for good measure.
But because of that guy’s stand, the waiter thought everyone on the table wanted the big spicy fish. And, also because of that guy’s stand, James and his colleagues felt obliged to finish everything they had “ordered”, and James said he felt sick afterwards. Later at work, one guy was so exhausted from his meal that he fell asleep on the toilet.
Despite that experience, James is still a big fan of the spicy fish. It’s a bit too spicy for me in large doses, though the fish was nice and tender. I can definitely see why James likes it – it has that distinctive sichuan mouthfeel where the heat gradually builds up and then your lips start buzzing.
We also ordered 12 pan fried dumplings ($16).
Ormi was not a fan of them. I thought they weren’t bad, but not great – the skin was thicker than I would like, but overall they were a much-needed break from the spiciness.
The wontons with hot chilli sauce ($12.80) were similarly average. They had a strange flavour to them (maybe the chilli sauce?) and I prefer Hutong’s.
The boneless dry chicken with hot chilli ($19.80) was the clear favourite of the night. It looked a lot spicier than it was , and was pretty manageable if you didn’t eat the chillis. I always wonder if sichuan restaurants re-use the dried chillis.
The chicken was crisp and awesome, and I would definitely order it again. I’m pretty sure I’ve had this dish at Dainty Sichuan, and also enjoyed it.
We also ordered fried string beans with mince pork in chilli sauce ($17.80). These were oilier and more cooked than I like my green beans – I know this is a popular dish, but I didn’t like it (though I’ve had it at Dainty Sichuan and enjoyed it).
Another nice break from the spicy food was the sweet and sour chicken with cashew nuts ($19.80). It was competently done, and I had no complaints.
We also ordered rice for everyone ($2.60 each). I don’t normally eat rice, but I was shovelling it in to counteract the spicy fish – but then I got some spicy fish soup on my rice and I was all like “aaagh, the rice! It does nothing!”
I found Spicy Fish to be spicier than both Sichuan House and Dainty Sichuan, but that’s possibly because of the dishes we ordered. In hindsight I think we needed more non-spicy things on the menu, but that’s our fault not the restaurant’s. It’s quite tempting to get all spicy stuff because that’s what they specialise in – nobody goes to Spicy Fish for their sweet and sour pork, you know?
I’d rank Spicy fish above Sichuan House and below Dainty Sichuan. James and I are heading to Dainty Sichuan with Howie and Silvia next week, so I’ll be able to refresh my opinion of it. But for now, I think that even though Spicy Fish isn’t quite as good as Dainty Sichuan, the location is much more convenient and the food is almost as good, so for now it’s a smidge ahead in my overall ranking.