Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spicy Fish

I've been to Spicy Fish in Chinatown many times for their great value lunch menu, but it wasn't until recently that I managed to visit them for dinner. Set behind the Target Center, this restaurant is popular with both locals and tourists.

While not particularly big, they do have a high turnover rate and seemed pretty busy on the Tuesday night we were there. As expected, the extensive menu had a lot of spicy dishes, although perhaps not as many as a few other Sichuan restaurants nearby.

Both my dining companions could handle their chilli, so I didn't refrain too much from ordering dishes heaped with chillies and Sichuan peppers. Our first choice was the chef's special of Pork Spare Ribs with Shredded Potato in Chef's Flavour Chilli.

Pork Spare Ribs with Shredded Potato in Chef's Flavour Chilli
I'm not sure what "Chef's Flavour Chilli" referred to but the moderately spicy dish had a tasty (and attractive) sprinkling of both chillies and the mouth-numbing Sichuan peppers. The ribs were soft and salty and not too oily, and the celery provided a nice crunch to the dish. I particularly liked the potatoes that were almost-fries, which soaked up some of the chilli oil, and so were tender and full of flavour, yet didn't fall apart into mush straight away.

We couldn't pass up on their signature dish either.

Spicy Fish (Szechuan)
The fish was perfectly cooked and fall-off-your-chopstick tender. Consequently, you might want to bring your bowl (or use the spoon provided) to catch the fish, otherwise you'll end up with a shirt-full of chilli oil like I did (many thanks A). The chilli oil tastes brilliant spooned over rice, although you'll sacrifice some of the mouth-soothing properties of the rice if you do that. Up to you. There are a lot of chillies in this dish, but it's not as spicy as you might expect.

My favourite dish of the night was the Stir Fried Shredded Eel with Tea Tree Mushroom.

Stir-Fried Shredded Eel with Tea Tree Mushroom
This dish was unique, interesting, aromatic and most importantly, it tasted delicious. Tea Tree Mushrooms (also known as Willow Mushrooms) are distinctly Chinese, and resemble the more common enoki mushrooms. The eel was cut finely to resemble the mushrooms, so every mouth was a mixture of eel and mushrooms, each with their own unique flavours and textures. The capsicum didn't add much taste-wise to the dish, but I guess a mass of brown wouldn't have looked as appealing. 

To offset all that spice though, and to introduce some greens into our diet, we ordered some fresh cucumber and sauteed snowpea shoots. 

Fresh Cucumber in Garlic

Sauteed Snowpea Shoot in Garlic

The cucumber was disappointing, and didn't strike me as particularly fresh, indeed, even in the photo you can see that they're somewhat limp. They did take some of the heat off the chilli so they were almost a must-order dish. The snowpea shoots we lightly cooked, and the garlic flavour accented the freshness of the greens.

I like spicy food, and Spicy Fish does spicy food well. It's not burn-your-tongue spicy, but there's enough of a chilli kick that you don't feel let down. Order some greens to offset the heaviness of the spice and you'll be set. The service is efficient (if not the friendliest), and the prices are reasonable. It's a decent Chinese restaurant in Chinatown that will cater to most tastes.

Spicy Fish
209 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Sun-Thu 1130am-11pm, Fri-Sat 1130am-2am

Spicy Fish on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm a chilli weakling so it doesn't sound like the place for me, though I'm interested to try to tea tree mushrooms!

    1. That dish wasn't too spicy, so you should go try it.