Another holiday in my home city – this one much closer to home. Just a few kilometers away from home Chatswood has such a different feel to our sleepy suburb. The kids were away on an all day scout excursion so Andrew and I made the most of our day off by going out to lunch and dinner. I have been wanting to try out this new Szechuan restaurant I had spotted on Victoria Street opposite Chastwood Chase. I knew nothing of it, and thought that it would either be ok or complete rubbish. There have been a few nice new restaurants open in Chastwood lately so I was hopeful.
We were surprised to find a queue to get into the restaurant (another thing getting very common in Chatswood). Standing outside in the queue we noticed the ‘sh’ sounds in the Mandarin everyone around us was speaking. I guess we mostly hear Cantonese spoken in Sydney. Once we got inside the restaurant the smell of vinegar and slightly burnt chillies also took us straight back to Taipei. We lived in Taipei for a few months and we were both surprised at how those very northern Chinese aromas triggered memories of Taipei. Trying to decipher the menu (it was in English, but a lot of it very strange to me), pointing at food other tables were eating and asking the wait staff about it – was also “very Taipei” for me. Ofcourse in Taipei I spoke no Mandarin and they spoke no English so ordering in a restaurant was very much a hit and miss affair. More hit that miss given the local love for all things offal and my less than strong stomach in that regard. But I digress.
The love for offal came through in this menu as well. The food looked and smelled fantastic. The servings were enormous and despite this most tables around us were laden with more dishes than people. We tried to be restrained and ordered the fiery looking chicken dish you can see in the picture above. It was only a two chilli rating so I hate to think what the three chilli dishes are like! It was almost too hot for me and Andrew bailed out of it fairly early. Luckily the other dish we chose – bok choy and mushrooms – was completely mild and a good contrast. It arrived first and I had been just about to ask for some chilli on the side when the chicken dish came out. Needless to say, I didn’t bother asking for extra chilli after that! The flavour of the chicken dish was great but it did have a bit too much chilli and the chicken was a bit too dry and deep-fried. I will definitely go back there. The sounds and aromas all around were enough to make us feel like we were on holidays. And that food needs some more exploring.