Sunday, November 21, 2010

Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot, Glebe

Last night The Boy and I met up with Big Brother No. 2 (who says I should just call him Bob, seeing as that is his name) and two of his kiddiewinks Hungry Boy and MissL for dinner. 

Bob has decided we should try the Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot on Glebe Point Road.  

I find this a very very odd choice of restaurant for this family.  A few years ago we ate just down the road at Spicy Sichuan for MissL’s birthday and it was a painful experience.  Literally painful.  I don’t mean pain in the way that people say “gee my family is a pain”.

The Sichuan food was so painfully hot that I couldn’t eat most of the meal as my mouth was in a chilli induced trauma. My tongue felt like it had third degree burns.  The Hungry Boy was left gasping and begging the waiter for a coke…now please!  We all coughed and spluttered our way through the night with the help of copious amounts of liquid refreshments.

So needless to say I’m a bit scared of what is about to happen at Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot.

In the centre of our table is a recessed gas burner and a space big enough to house a witch’s cauldron. I already know that whatever is going to come out of there is going to be HOT!

Our waiter presents us with a menu for ordering a-la-carte items and what appears to be a shopping list so we can start picking and choosing what we’d like to go into our hot pot.

It is safe to say that at this point we are all thoroughly confused.  I’ve had a hot pot once before but don’t really remember it and the others are hot pot novices. 

So we go with what we know and order some entrees from the a-la-carte menu. Oh, and some beers as we know are going to be needed to cool the chilli onslaught that is about to hit us.

Our first entrée is a Sichuan Special Pumpkin Cake ($7.80).  The soft pumpkin disc is encased by a sesame seed pastry.  The overwhelming taste is not of pumpkin but the sesame seeds dotted onto the cake.  There is no spiciness to the pumpkin cakes whatsoever and I am relived.

Our next entrée is the Wonton in Hot Chilli Soup ($7.80). The wontons are lovely and the sauce is the perfect mix of salty soy and sour vinegar.  Despite its moniker of ‘hot chilli soup’ it is not overly spicy and doesn’t come close to blowing my head off. Once again, I am relived.

The final entrée is the Boiled Dumplings in Hot and Sour Sauce ($7.80).  The dumplings are nice, but nowhere near as tasty as the wontons.  I find that the sauce is not overly flavoursome and it is certainly not spicy.  Perhaps this restaurant isn't going to be as spicy as I am fearing. More relief.

Now on to the hot pot.  We decide on a Half Spicy and Half Chicken Pork Bone Soup ($14.00) as this will give us a chance to try both of the broths on offer. We can also choose how spicy we want our broth.  The “spiceometer’ options range from extra spicy to little spicy and even though we like spicy food we learnt our lesson at Spicy Sichuan.  It is a group consensus to opt for Mild.

The next step is choosing what we’d like to go into our broth.  There are so many decisions to be made in ordering a hot pot that I am starting to feel fatigued. 

We spend the next ten minutes passing the hot pot shopping list to each other like it’s a hot potato, each ticking random items that we think could work well in the hot pot.  Who knows? We sure don’t.  Our waiter is lovely, but not overly helpful so we’re not sure if we really understand how this whole “hot pot thing” works.

We end up choosing Pork Belly Slices ($8.00) and Beef Slices ($8.00) as our meat options and add some Scallops ($8.00) into the mix.  A few token vegetables are added such as Chinese Cabbage ($4.00), Bean Sprouts ($5.00), Oyster Mushrooms ($7.00) and Spinach ($4.00).   Miss L adds in a few extra items, such as Quail Eggs ($5.00), Fish Balls ($6.00), White Radish ($3.00) and Rice Vermicelli ($3.00)  just before the list is handed over the waiter.

Our waiter urges us to order some sauces for dipping the cooked food into. We let him guide us on this front and he chooses five different sauces for us (each between $1.50 - $2.00).

When the cauldron of broth arrives it is lowered onto the table’s gas burner and the flame lit.  Oooooo! Very fancy.

It’s not hard to tell which is the spicy broth as it is a deep dark red colour.  I’m alarmed that I can see what appears to be hundreds of chilli’s bobbing around in our mildly spiced soup.  Oh dear.  I don’t think this is going to end well folks.

Once the soup is boiling we start adding bits and pieces in to be cooked. There is a debate over whether we put everything in at once or just put in a few things and then pick them out. 

We pile everything in, trying to follow the cooking times that the helpful instruction sheet advises us of, but not really getting it right. Whatever – I just want to eat.

The spicy broth is ultra spicy. Everything we pull out has numerous amounts of chilli stuck to it like barnacles.  Whilst we all cough and splutter with every mouthful, I think I prefer its spicy kick over the milder, more benign, broth bubbling away on the other side of the cauldron.

We are not really sure what to do with the sauces that have been ordered with the meal.  As the food going into our bowl is pretty much soup like the sauces seem to be redundant in my opinion. That said, I realise we have no idea what we are doing, so please don’t pay attention to me!

My favourite of all of the ingredients we’ve chosen was the Quail Egg – good choice MissL. The eggs are sweet and the yolk pops in your mouth when you bite in to it.  In the end we are all fishing around in the dregs of the soup trying to find any lonely quail eggs that haven’t yet made it into our tummies.

I have mixed feelings about our Sichuan hot pot experience.  I think it is a fun and interactive way to eat with a group of people and I love it that is a totally difference eating experience for us.

On the other hand I really wish we had a better idea of what we were doing as I think we missed out on the full culinary and cultural experience.  I would have loved some more guidance from the staff so that we could have experienced a true Sichuan Hot Pot.  I feel like tonight’s dinner was a big cultural eating fail on our part. I also didn't feel really fulfilled by my meal as it was all too confusing and chaotic.

Either way, we are all in agreement that we should head down the road ASAP to have some gelato in an attempt to try and cool down our mouths.

The Boy & I agree that we'll be back to try it all again - older and wiser next time.

Red Chilli Sichuan Hot Pot is at 15 Glebe Point Road, Glebe.

Red Chilli Hotpot on Urbanspoon


  1. Interesting! I have never been to a restaurant and had Hot Pot! Only just tried Korean BBQ at the table. Can't wait for the next instalment - you will have to educate me so that I know what to order!!

    PS - yes you could do the CBC - not that hard really!! Surprise The Boy one night!!!

  2. Oh my that looks so good right now. I love chilli!! I've got to try that soon.

  3. I love, love this place, but a while back had some arrogant service and we haven't been back since, but the food was really nice... yum love quail eggs!

  4. ahaha just looking at the spicy side is making me sweat!

  5. Cate - this is much different to a Korean BBQ (which I think I may prefer), though the boiling pot of soup had us melting at the table just the same. The Boy just asked what CBC is - I'm not going to tell him...hee hee!

    Tambourine - be warned! These chilli's will blow your head off. Even the mild was almost too much!

    Thang - our waiter was a lovely guy, but we did have one waitress just throw (literally throw) our entree onto the table as she walked past without even looking at us. I thought it was pretty rude (well, very rude really). Some people shouldn't be in customer service that's for sure!

    Suse - sounds like it's the cool chicken broth for you then! My tongue went totally numb after the first bowl of food from eh spciy side, so I couldn't feel anything anyway...probably a good thing.

  6. lol, I have never had a hot pot before, but it looks like something that is good for a few people. I love spicy food, but then sometimes I eat something that makes me think my head is about to explode and I then get anxious about the next time I eat something spicy.

  7. Oohh I always see this place but never tried! Time to hit up some hot pot hee hee (even though it's summer -__-)

  8. Susan - it was a great meal for a group of people, but I'd go again with just two people (I'd get to eat more that way). Next time we'll order the "little" chilli option and not the "mild" and hope it's not too hot.

    FFichiban - it was HOT leaning over the hot pot to grab the food and take snaps. Not really summer food...probably why we got a table so easily.

  9. It looks like fun but as you said, sometimes the staff should guide you, especially if you look a bit lost or needing help!

  10. Hi Loarraine - our waiter was a lovely guy, but just didn't get our pleas for help as being legit! Oh we know what to do next time (and there will be a next time - in winter though).

  11. my that looks so good right now . I like it.....


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