Go up the escalators and bypass the Rainbow Room karaoke den (or hey, don’t), and enter the glitzy-bright maze of wooden lattices and mirrors that separate hot-plate topped tables.
Dainty Sichuan CBD may be a touch flashier than its South Yarra sibling, but the kitchen is just as enthusiastic about fire. Those tabletop burners are built for bearing tongue-searing hot pots of lamb in all its forms – heart, liver, belly –concealed beneath a crimson layer of chilli oil.
Sadly there are no fluffy bao (buns) here. In fact, there’s not a lot in the way of small plates save for a new dish of duck wings, or chilli-slicked beef tendon with a texture that falls somewhere between gelatine and jerky.
Take friends. Everything is hot and huge and you’ll need back-up to tackle, say, a platter of sizzled pork belly strips with ribbons of chive pancake It’s a bacon bonanza.
Go Chongqing chicken – a haystack of dry-fried chillies and tingly fragrant Sichuan peppercorns hiding bony bits of bird. Cool the fire with chilled tofu lifted by garlic, sesame oil and the sulphuric hit of century eggs.
Prices are slightly higher here, but you can still BYO wine.
This is a win for every inner-city worker harbouring a fiery death wish.