There’s plenty of good, cheap and delicious fun to be had at this Sichuan restaurant
You’ve not had a real Spicy Panda experience until you’ve picked your way through an entire bowl of dried chillies looking for tiny niblets of deep-fried rabbit. It’s a just a fact. Of course, you could order yours with deep-fried chicken instead – it’s a dish you may well recognise from other Sichuan restaurants around town, along with corn kernels fried in duck-egg yolk and mapo tofu.
The restaurant, apart from what’s on the plate, is a pretty spare operation – there are a couple fish tanks (sans fish) by the entrance, and a few tables dotted around the upstairs room. The fridge is filled with the usual prune juice, Tsing Taos and another Chinese beer we’re less familiar with: Harbin. We immediately order six. This is big-plate, family-style food best enjoyed with a crew, after all.
It’s all about texture here, so go for steamed eggplant or that mapo tofu. We’d go so far as to say it’s one of the best in town, along with the white-knuckle number at Golden Sichuan
– so thoroughly laced with fresh Sichuan pepper you have to grip the table to not fall over on first bite. Your extreme bean curd also comes with braised-and-spiced pork mince and chilli oil.
Temper all that heat with a few sides such as baby bok choy stir-fried with garlic, green beans sautéed with pork mince or dan dan noodles. We wouldn’t go back for the thickish shallot pancake (though why we’re stupid enough to order an eastern Chinese dish in a southwestern Chinese restaurant is still a mystery; blame it on too many Harbins). Though we might go back for the “Consumption of children fish” just out of curiosity.
Got veggos in tow? There's plenty on the menu to keep them happy, and die-hard meat eaters can satisfy themselves with parts of the menu dedicated, literally, to faces.
Get yourself front and centre on Dixon Street for spicy times.