Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spicy Fish

209 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, 3000

At the centre of any Chinese celebration is a good meal. And so we’re here at Spicy Fish, to celebrate my mum’s birthday. The place may seem quiet on a Sunday night but it’s packed to the rafters almost any other time during the week. Plus, it makes a nice change to having to shout over the hubbub, and clashing elbows with your neighbour as you reach for the teapot. That said though, on the night we visited, they were playing western hip-hop/RnB on the plasma TVs mounted on the walls, and I have to say, eating Chinese food with Akon in the background is something of a new experience for me, and probably for most of the other patrons as well.

The menu here is long, divided into sub-categories such as entree, seafood, pork, vegetarian etc. The mouth-watering pictures of each dish didn’t help with the decision making either. 20 agonising minutes later, we settled on 4 dishes and a drink for my sister (the rest of us had tea, which was an above-average jasmine)

Eggplant in Claypot in Szechuan Chilli Sauce ($15.80)

The food came out quickly, most likely due to the lack of customers than it being pre-made, as each dish was piping hot. The Eggplant in Claypot in Szechuan Chilli Sauce ($15.80) came in, you guessed it, a claypot, shiny with oil and caramelised to the point of sticky sweetness. Each piece of eggplant slithered smoothly down our throats, and I would recommend this even to those of you who don’t like eggplant.

Stir-Fried Pork Tripe in Black Pepper ($17.80)
The next dish was the Stir-Fried Pork Tripe in Black Pepper ($17.80). A deceptively small tangle of tripe, onion and capsicum sat in the middle of the plate, with a pretty nest of shaved carrot on the side. The tripe and the vegetables made a wonderful contrast between chewy and crunchy, and there was a good, strong taste of black pepper. My only complaint is that it was a little on the salty side, but nothing a serve of fluffy white rice ($2.20 per head) won’t fix.

Meatball and Pickled Mustard in Stone Pot ($10.80)

And of course we had to try one of the chef’s specials. We had the Meatball and Pickled Mustard in Stone Pot ($10.80). We were expecting meatballs in a thick sauce, but instead, it was a soup, with meatballs, pickled mustard, and vermicelli in a cloudy broth. The soup tasted like a pork broth, and was flavoursome but light enough to let the meatballs shine, and shine they did. They were chunky and meaty with shallots and water chestnuts (which, in my opinion, is a devastatingly underused ingredient), adding a slight crunch to each warming, satisfying mouthful. I could totally have this instead of chicken soup when I’m sick in bed.

Pork Spare Ribs in Sweet and Vinegar Sauce ($18.80)

And for my 8 year old sister (and uh possibly me), we ordered a serve of Pork Spare Ribs in Sweet and Vinegar Sauce ($18.80). It was sweet, it was sour, it was meaty, and there was a heck of a lot of it – what’s there not to like? (Maybe my horrible photo but anyway)

Black Cow ($3.50)

And the Black Cow ($3.50) – really just a scoop of vanilla ice cream in coke but hey, who can resist a name like that?

Spicy Fish has something for everyone, and all of it well-executed. It’s also a perfect place to order a few more things to share. Sounds like a perfect recipe for a celebration.

Rating: 15/20 – well-executed

Spicy Fish on Urbanspoon

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