I’ve become very fond of Sichuan food of late and have been on the lookout for more restaurants that cook this cuisine and I figured the natural place to find them would be either Parnell Street or Capel Street. After a quick Google search, one of the results was the Sichuan House which had got favourable comments on Yelp and although I’m normally wary of those sort of sites, especially when the review count is quite low (eight in this case), I decided to take the chance.
As mentioned, Pauline is studying so for this meal it was just me and my baby son who spent his time sitting quietly (for the most part!) in his buggy. We arrived at around three o’clock and the restaurant was very quiet with only two other diners; this was good because I could choose the most unobtrusive table to sit at as I’m sure there’s nothing more annoying for waiters than being constantly in danger of tripping over someone’s pram.
The menu is extensive with the opening page dedicated to dishes that had no English translations accompanying them as well as several pages detailing various options for the famed Sichuan hot pot. I already knew what I wanted (down to the Chinese characters which I’d saved on my phone) and after a little searching, due to the somewhat idiosyncratic menu layout, I found what I was looking for.
To start, I thought I was ordering the fried eggplant with spicy sweet galue sauce which is more commonly, and misleadingly, translated as fish-fragrant aubergine (鱼香茄子); it was only afterwards I realised I’d actually chosen the item above it on the menu: fried eggplant with pork (烧茄子). I had been wondering why the spicing was completely different to how I expected but because it tasted so nice it didn’t really register.
It’s also a bit of a misnomer to say I began my meal with this course since it actually came out after my mains, this was not really an error on the staffs’ part because I unknowingly had ordered two main courses (how were they supposed to know the one I wanted first). My second or first dish for those keeping count was the poached sliced beef in hot chilli oil (水煮牛肉) which I had also eaten in China Sichuan in Sandyford. The portion size for this was ludicrous, a huge bowl full to the brim with meat and then some. As promised, there was plenty of chilli but unfortunately not enough Sichuan pepper meaning the great numbing effect you get on your tongue – for me, my favourite part Sichuan cooking – was a bit muted. It’s a minor quibble though and I ate the whole lot as it was still very good.
However, because of the generosity of the portioning I struggled to finish the fried aubergines but thankfully the waitress came to my rescue and offered to put it in a container for me to bring home; it would have been a terrible shame for those leftovers to have been thrown out and it also meant Pauline didn’t miss out completely and got to taste some.
I was so full dessert was out of the question and although I didn’t order any drinks I did see a small section for wine and beers on the menu (including the intriguingly titled ‘homemade alcohol’). Service was friendly even if a few language problems meant there were a couple of mixups but it really wasn’t a problem and we were still looked after well. The bill, not including tip, was €17.60.