Bare as only Chinese cafeterias can be, Sichuan Dining Room on Swanston Street is a happy discovery for anyone interested in spicy food.
Sitting squarely in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category, this restaurant is at the top of Swanton Street opposite the city baths, in a strip of largely forgettable shops.
This little diner is frequented by a steady stream of tourist and Chinese students alike, who are all happy with the simple, attentive service and tasty food of the place.
On arrival, waiting staff will seat you and the place will appear very basic. Don’t let this fool you however – as simple at the standard selection of wine and beers is (including the obligatory Chinese beer, Tsingtao) the food is the focus here – and luckily for us – we didn’t come for the drinks.
Sichuan Dining Room has, ‘all-the-classics’ of Chinese cuisine, with many of the greatest hits available - Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo tofu, etc. and the essential soups, dumpling and entrees available.
Ordering the Spicy Fish with rice proved a success with the dish being hot and fragrant and the fish fresh and delicious. This dish was in direct contrast to our second dish, the fried egg noodle with prawns. This dish, also deliciously made, had one disappointing detail, that is the prawns were actually shrimp (as in mini, little prawns) but the professional seasoning which they were cooked in including the chilli, black bean and masses of Sichuan peppers, saved the dish regardless of its disappointed protein.
The two medium sized portions proved just enough for two greedy eaters and we left contented and happy in the thought of finding a great new find anyone with a liking of authentic Chinese cooking would enjoy.
This place is also affordable – (read cheap) if you order off the lunch menu. The larger Dinner menu would have proved too much food for us, even though we were having dinner.
First time diners, can be reassured that this is a good eatery regardless of the charmless dining area and television in the background. Be Adventurous - Sichuan Dining Room has a lot to offer customers on a budget.
Service: 3/5 (extra for having Eftpos unlike many eateries in town)
Overall: Solid Sichuan food for student prices.