We recently met up with a big gang of vegans for a weeknight feast at Sichuan House. There's nothing very fancy about the venue - it's been pumping out amazing spicy food for years and the decor could easily have come straight from the 90s. It's a surprisingly veg-friendly place - we ordered 9 vegan dishes to share and we still had more options on the menu we could have tried. We kicked off with one of my absolute favourite dishes - Sichuan cold noodles ($7), a gloriously spicy treat that zaps your mouth and sets you up for the rest of the meal.
Someone in the group insisted we try the spicy cumin cauliflower ($20.80), and I'm glad they did - we'd never had this before (although we ate very similar dishes in China last year) and it was one of the best dishes of the night. As the name suggests, it's spicy, it's cumin-y and it's cauliflower. The spicy dried tofu ($11.80) is more of an old favourite - chewy tofu strips, slathered in more zingy sichuan pepper sauce.
We added a plate of greens with the Chinese broccoli with garlic ($16.80) and an order of Cindy's dish of choice: fish-fragrant eggplant ($19.80). The lightly battered eggplant has a sweet, vinegar-y sauce, along with a good hit chilli of course. It's always a winner.
The stir-fried five-spice tofu and chives ($19.80) is another old favourite, although it didn't quite live up to our memories this time. The tofu was a bit lacking in flavour alongside all the other dishes - it's usually great though, so we'll probably order it again next time. The absolute show-stopper of the night was the mapo tofu minus the pork ($16.80) - a rich and spicy dish that I will dream about for weeks.
The spicy and sour potato threads ($19.80) and stir-fried tea-tree mushrooms with five-spice tofu ($19.80) were both just okay - the potato lacked a bit of sourness this time around and the tea-tree mushrooms are an acquired taste.
On the whole though, this was an incredibly good meal - it's so great to go somewhere like Sichuan House with a big group so you can really delve into everything they have to offer. Sharing this food around is delightful, messy fun - it's got to be one of the best big-group options in the city.
Read about our first visit here. More recently, Enlightened Decadence enjoyed a selection of their tofu dishes, while there are positive meaty reviews at Foodie About Town and streaky eats.
22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
Accessibility: Entry includes about six steps, and we didn't see a more accessible alternative. Tables are densely packed. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. Toilets were gendered, flat-floored and narrow.