The PFEs received an invitation recently from Merrick, owner of the Szechwan Zen Chinese Restaurant to check out their restaurant which had opened just 6 months ago. Specializing in Chinese food, Szechwan style, it is a style of food with spicy bold flavors resulting from the copious use of garlic and the unique Sichuan pepper in the dishes. The Szechwan flavors have not been that common in Perth but I have noticed a few restaurants popping up serving this cuisine in the city and Victoria Park over the last few months. I was happy to give it a go, fingers crossed that my tongue/taste bud can take the spiciness! I invited two of my close friends to join me, both of them great cooks themselves and lovers of spicy food!
The Szechwan Zen Chinese Restaurant is located inside the William Street square in Northbridge. It used to be Teochew Palace in days long past and after that Four Seasons Roasting Duck Restaurant. I did not know that Four Seasons had closed down until I received this invitation! Szechwan Zen had since renovated the restaurant and there’s a big crab sign out front, very hard not to miss!
The inside of the restaurant is clean and spacious!
We ordered a pot of tea while deliberating on the menu, there were so many dishes to choose from and they all looked delicious! It is a pictured menu which made choosing so much harder!
After scanning through the menu, I noticed that there was a good mixture between spicy and non-spicy food so that people who can’t take spicy food won’t miss out! The dishes are coded with symbol of chilies next to them to indicate the level of spiciness, the more chilies there are, the hotter the dish. We had tried to order as many different/daring dishes as possible! Here goes!
- Shredded chicken breast and jellyfish salad ($10.80 for a medium) – the jellyfish was crunchy and al dente just the way I like it. The sauce was not too hot even though there were lots of chili pieces from the look of it.
- Lamb ribs with special spicy sauce ($25.80) – this was a very tasty dish but became too spicy for me after awhile. The Sichuan peppercorn flavor was prominent. My two friends loved this and commented that this would go down well with a bottle of beer. They loved it so much they even took the leftovers home. Definitely a dish for those who love spicy food!
- Crumbed prawns ($24.80) – this was my favorite dish, I loved the big crumbed juicy prawns which were topped with a dollop of mayonnaise and crunchy flakes. Deep fried goodness! This dish was not spicy at all. There was a fruit salad that came with it which came to good use for me to cool down my mouth after the Lamb Ribs! :p
- Crunchy cucumber with garlic paste ($6.80) – this was a cooling dish we ordered in case if anything became too spicy for us. Another dish that came to good use for me, it tasted slightly pickled but refreshing.
- Braised potato beans and egg plant ($16.80) – a non-spicy vegetable dish, it was flavorsome with a twinge of Sichuan peppercorn flavor. We liked this!
- Spicy oiled noodle with pork ($4.80) – this was quite nice and I believe a signature noodle Szechwan dish.
To help us to cool down further, we finished off with a Taro Milk Tea and Coconut Water ($4 each).
All in all, it was a great meal for me despite the spiciness of some dishes. They were generous in size and there seemed to be quite a few dishes in the menu which are uncommon to those one find at the usual Chinese Restaurant. Szechwan Zen also serves fresh seafood and has big water tanks housing a variety of seafood including the snow crab. I spied a special whole fish dish with lotus root that was quite popular with the patrons there. I must order that the next time I go! I always like to try something different! Thank you for the hospitality!