Let’s play word association. If I said the words “cold weather”, how would you respond? The first words tumbling out of my mouth would definitely be “hot pot”. One of my favourite “food styles”, hands down.
Enter Dainty Sichuan. As I’ve professed before on this blog, I am a massive fan of Dainty Sichuan. And my love for them just grew even bigger as they recently opened up a third store in Box Hill that is a hot pot restaurant (and barbeque too, apparently, but I was less interested in this aspect). Although you could get hot pot at their South Yarra restaurant, this one in Box Hill specialises in it. Yes please!
Ok, the take away points about Dainty Sichuan Box Hill:
- Instead of a pot of broth in the middle of the table, everyone gets their own little pot
- You order the food by marking the items you want on a form that has everything but the drinks listed
- First, you choose your stock. From recollection, there were about 10 different types of broth available on the menu; some spicy, some not
- The basic mushroom stock ($6) and the spicy, sichuan peppercorn stock ($6) are both vegetarian (and I suspect vegan). I think there might have been a couple more vegan/vegetarian stocks too, but I can’t remember. Sorry!
- Can’t decide between the mushroom or spicy broths? Do what I did and get a half mushroom/half spicy ($8) stock!
- Next, order the hot pot ingredients. Vegetarian/vegan options revolve around varieties of tofu/soybean products, mushrooms, and vegetables, with a couple of noodle options. Most items are in the $5-$10 range, with a couple of platters around $16-$17. Lotus root and potato noodles are really good in hot pot!
- Hot pot is known to be quite “heat-y”, i.e. adds fire to your body. It is advisable to drink something “cooling” to balance things out. May I suggest the deliciously refreshing plum juice ($8.50/jug)?
- Next, hit up the condiment buffet station! My version of heaven. Around 30 different types of condiments and garnishes for you to dip your tofu/greens/mushroom in, many of which are vegetarian. My favourite combination is crushed peanuts, roasted sesame, pickled mustard greens, sesame paste, sesame oil, and sichuan chilli sauce
- When the levels of broth in your pot start to get a bit low, just flag down a waiter and they will refill it for you. Easy!
Dainty Sichuan Box Hill reminded me so much of hot pot restaurants in Beijing and in particular, my favourite, Haidilao (海底捞). So good. More trips here are definitely needed!
One final tip: wear clothes that you intend on washing the next day, as I guarantee you will come out smelling like sichuan style hot pot.
Level 1, 2a Cambridge St (corner Cambridge and Station Streets), Box Hill 3128