Soldiering on with my CBD lunch series for your Melbourne CBD lunch needs (wow I make it sound like a public service, don’t I?) Sichuan Dining Room is more of a casual eatery tucked away in Mid City Arcade, one of the many arcades on Burke St./Little Burke St, the home of Melbourne Chinatown. Just like other eateries around the area well known for its plethora of cheap, tasty Chinese/Asian selection.
(Mapo tofu on rice)
Sichuan Dining Room, unfortunately not the same as the now-defunct Sichuan Dining Room which I loved in Hawthorn, has a rather large menu consisting of your usual ‘something-anything on rice’ for under $10 up to Sichuan-style hotpots and ‘various parts of a pig/chicken/duck fried in a tonne of dried chillies’ costing up to $30+ for family dinner where sharing is required.
(Chicken kungbao on rice)
I have had both options. Let’s talk about the cheap lunch options first. We ordered three dishes with rice to try. The ‘on rice’ option, while cheap was rather limited to the more mainstream Australian Chinese dishes. Our mapo tofu (tofu and mince in spicy, chilli oil sauce) was more spicy than the mapo tofu you would get at a Cantonese restaurant but it wasn’t outstanding. It was pleasant enough for a lunch time rush though. They also serve the ‘on noodles’ options and it is my failing that I never gave them a go. Please let me know if you have and what you think about it.
(spicy eggplant and mince on rice)
The same could be said about the kung bao chicken – chicken with sweet-ish sauce with peanuts, capsicum and dried chillies. It wasn’t spicy and marked rather low on their chilli scale. A good flavoured dish but it really wasn’t what I had hoped it to be. The eggplant, on the other hand, rather was good. They were soft, silky and not too oily.
The ‘main’ options, on the other hand, are much larger and much more expensive ranging betwee $17-$35. I have seen a few students and families gathering around to share them. They offer the more authentic Sichuan options. I have had a few dishes from that selection. While they are conveniently located, its sparse dining room and service does not match the price tag for a nice meal out. The food itself is tasty and well done enough but compared to the other luminaries such as Dainty Sichuan in South Yarra, they come up short.
So overall, Sichuan Dining Room is an option in the Chinatown area for a quick and cheap Sichuan lunch but perhaps they may not be all that great for the more pricey shared Sichuan dishes.
Sichuan Dining Room
Address: Mid City Arcade, 194-200 Bourke St. Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9663 5472