When it comes to Asian food, you’ll find a broad spectrum of spicy dishes depending on the region and climate. Some spicy dishes are consumed in warmer climates to cool you down through perspiration, and some use chilis to prevent food spoilage. Various areas of Asia will use a different type of spice – for instance, you’ll find a different type of heat from a dish from India versus a dish from Thailand or Korea. Some cultures are steeped in heat, and today we’ll take a closer look at Szechuan – or Sichuan – cuisine.
Best known for their bold flavours from the liberal use of garlic and chili peppers as well as the unique flavour of the infamous Szechuan peppers, these four restaurants in Richmond get Szechuan cuisine right.
Golden Sichuan – heat scale: 7
3631 No. 3 Road, Richmond
Golden Sichuan is a great place to experience the heat of Szechuan cuisine, coupled with a few other non-spicy items, such as the visually stunning dish pictured above. This restaurant uses prickly ash, pepper, garlic, ginger and fermented soybeans to ensure diners get an authentic taste of Szechuan cuisine. Our top dishes here include their sizzling beef in chili oil, ginger beef, stir fried pea shoots and of course, their water-boiled barramundi covered in spicy, red peppers.
To Hot Hot Pot – heat scale: 8
130 – 8171 Ackroyd Road, Richmond
For an entirely different experience, try To Hot Hot Pot. Situated in a strip mall on Ackroyd Road, the restaurant bills itself as a Chongqing style hot pot restaurant and they take their fiery flavours seriously. Our top tip here: split the hot pot into two to enjoy maximum flavor. The broths available here include the original Chongqing style soup, pork rib soup, and duck with pickled vegetables. Choose your proteins, ranging from Wagyu beef, oysters, spot prawns and spicy pork ribs and accompanying vegetables from the refrigerated section in the back of the restaurant. To Hot is a definitely group dining experience – it allows diners to maximize the cost and portions of the generous heaps of protein.
Szechuan Delicious – heat scale: 10
6610 No. 3 Road, Richmond
Warning: Szechuan Delicious isn’t for the faint of heart! This small hole-in-the-wall restaurant doesn’t hold back on the liberal – and we mean liberal – use of peppercorns and chilis in their dishes. If you’re new to Szechuan cuisine, we suggest trying out some of the other restaurants on this list first! Must-try dishes include their water-boiled fish, spicy wok-fried green beans, the mapo tofu and their extremely spicy dan dan noodles (pictured at the top of this article).
Bushuair – heat level: off the charts
121 – 4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond
Finally, we get to the spiciest restaurant of the bunch: Bushuair Restaurant. Located just south of Parker Place Mall on No. 3 Road, Bushuair Restaurant serves both Hunan and Szechuan cuisines – also known as some of China’s most chili-heavy culinary traditions. Most Hunan dishes contain the cuisine’s trinity of chilies (usually Tien Tsin peppers, which are approximately 6 to 30 times hotter than your Jalapeno peppers), garlic and shallots, and typically use more fresh ingredients, whereas Sichuan cuisine typically uses more dried and preserved foods. Due to the freshness, the spice level here is literally off the charts. Don’t be afraid to ask for water with your meal – or perhaps a glass of milk! Our favourite items here are the cumin beef, the spicy free range chicken and the fern root noodles (pictured above).
Take our advice: choose your bites carefully, pad them with something starchy, go slow, avoid the peppercorns and chilis, and you’ll be fine. The hardest part might just be convincing your friends to go along with you!