209 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
For someone who hasn't been to Melbourne THAT many times in her adult life, I sure get a lot of deja vu when I walk past the restaurants. Could it be that I'm such a glutton I've fitted into 3-4 trips what most people can't consume in their whole lifetimes? Whatever the case may be, I met up with Marc for lunch in Chinatown and walked past at least two restaurants that I pointed out as "I've eaten here before". Finally, I spotted Spicy Fish Restaurant and long story short, I had a dream about spicy fish literally the night before so it was exactly what I was in the mood for and we went in. It looked instantly familiar to me and when I did a quick search on my own blog, it was revealed that I had eaten there before (previous post here). Hungry Kittens might be useful for you readers in determining which restaurants to go to but it's also my own little memory bank for places I've been in the past.
This will be a short post because as soon as I realised it wasn't new, I didn't do my usual comprehensive set of photo snaps. I debated with myself whether to write another post at all but in the end decided to do so because the last one was from 2011 and also, I didn't get spicy fish that time. Actually eating the spicy fish at Spicy Fish Restaurant is important enough to write about.
Let me first explain what spicy fish is. There's spicy fish as in "any fish( def: a type of aquatic creature with hard back bone) that is spicy to taste". That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm referring to a specific dish that's popular in the Sichuan province of China. In Chinese it's called 'shui zhu yu' which directly translates to poached fish. More accurately, the dish involves fish fillets poached in hot chili oil. It's iconically spicy and numbing and when done well, the fish is very tender.
I've had this dish at a few restaurants in Brisbane (China Kitchen and Sichuan Spice Restaurant) and it's usually served up in a huge pot over live flames to keep the fish bubbly and hot. Because Spicy Fish Restaurant in Melbourne serves spicy fish as a quick lunch meal, I assume their bubbly pot is out the back and when you order, they simply spoon some out into a bowl for you to have with rice. My order was brought to me within 5 minutes and Marc exclaimed "wow they don't mess about here do they?"
Spicy fish with rice, XO seafood with rice
His order was the XO seafood meal and it came a few minutes after mine. We both had Tsingtao beer to wash our food down. I'll always drink beer if it's offered but to tell the truth, I don't always like it. In this case, it was the perfect compliment to the very hot fish dish. I was a disgrace at this meal with my nose running like a tap and periodically breaking into sweats and coughs. It was so hot!!! I won't claim to be a spice queen but I did love this lunch. How often is it that you dream about eating something relatively obscure and get the chance to indulge in that very item. I was a happy, happy girl. It helped that Melbourne weather is much colder than I can tolerate and the spicy fish warmed me from inside out.
Yummy food. Great flavours. Extremely cheap. Fast service. That's all you need to know.