Just getting inside was the most Chinese experience I've had since returning to Australia. A broken escalator, a queue at the door, westerners turning away with a grumble when told of the wait time, a lot of Chinese people sitting around waiting for their turn to get in. The smell of chilli and frying and tea and beer on the air. Oh so good, oh so delicious. I even spoke Mandarin on my way in.
We ordered five dishes between the six of us, which actually turned out to be a perfect amount of food. One was meaty (kungpao chicken, ex-housemate V reports it was really good), the other four were straight from the 'vegetable' section of the menu: fish-fragrant eggplant, tudousi (yesssss), a mushroom + greens dish, and a dish predominately comprised of lotus root and black fungus.
The mushrooms and greens dish had a whole lot of oyster mushrooms, and those oyster mushrooms were perfect. The tudousi was tudousi (ie, potato and delicious and oily), and the fish fragrant eggplant (free of fish, if you are unfamiliar with the dish) was so good. The dish with the lotus was a refreshing change from the spice and the oil.
Service was a little hard to attract, and tea was charged $2pp which is the most I've ever paid for tea at a Chinese restaurant (though they did obey the action for 'omg more water in my teapot'). Bookings are definitely required as it was so busy. But I loved this meal. Food came out food and it was all delicious, and it only came to $17pp. I definitely look forward to returning.
Next time I'd like to order the mapo doufu (modified to have no meat), the cabbage and chilli, and the cold black fungus with chilli, which is an old favourite. I hope to eat these things in the very near future, so hit me up if you need a friend to go with!
I really love Sichuanese food. Om nom nom.
Wendy has reviewed the South Yarra location recently and said nice things about the cabbage and chilli (om nom, one of my favourite dishes)
206 Bourke Street
Get there on most trams and trains. It's in the shopping centre next to JB-Hifi, follow the signs up to the karaoke on the top floor. There's an escalator up, but I'm not sure if there's a lift.