It was my mother's birthday so we decided to try a place perfectly suited for a woman who loves chilli and deep fried food. Szechuan Garden in St Leonards serves up modified spicy Szechuan food for a north shore clientele.
While my mother loves spice, my father doesn't. But apparently, they tell us that even their spiciest or "very hot" food isn't very hot. Szechuan Garden is also the site of one of our very first food challenges. We were looking for Peking duck and one participant suggested this place. They didn't have Peking Duck but memories come flooding back. It's true what they say that memory makes you recall things to be bigger than they were.
Lamb Fillet Pancake $16.90 for 4
We go with their recommendations, typically over ordering. The first item to come our are the lamb fillet pancakes. They're good, tasting quite similar to Peking duck pancakes albeit a bit more saucy. Some pancakes have spring onion, some carrot and the pancakes are a little dry but overall they're quite nice.
Peppery Chilli Chicken Crunch $19.90
The chilli chicken crunch is one of the hotter dishes. The chicken wings are cut in half horizontally and then deep fried with chilli and spring onion. They can be a bit fiddly to eat when cut this way and need the use of a hand along with chopsticks but they are tasty.
House Spicy White Bait $23.90
The white bait are larger white bait (not like the tiny whitebait that you get in NZ). These are dredged in flour and deep fried and they're good when dipped in the chilli sauce on the side with coriander stems.
Spicy Crisp Duck $29.90
This is really my mother's favourite flavours and textures in a dish. The duck is crispy and comes with a spice mix on the side. The chicken is juicy and tender but by now I am craving something saucy as I think we had ordered too much of the same texture.
Szechuan Chilli Chicken in the Wok $19.99
There is a small pause and then the remaining dishes come out. This is everyone's favourite, the Szechuan chilli chicken in the wok with a rich, spicy, slightly sticky sauce.
House Braised Pork Ribs $26.90
I also really liked the house braised pork ribs which aren't spicy at all. They come out in a packet of foil and they debone it at the side.
Szechuan Garden's Spicy Eggplant $19
Another favourite dish of mine is the spicy eggplant. I think I was expecting eggplant cubes but this is finely chopped eggplant in an appealing sticky, sweet but savoury sauce.
House Special Fried rice $15.90
The fried rice is topped with four large prawns and is a nice version with plenty of egg omelette.
Deep Fried Ice Cream $9.90
The desserts menu holds a variety of ice cream and not much else. Growing up I used to marvel at the concept of deep fried ice cream. To me, it was magical. So we order a serve of this with caramel sauce. Some things change, but deep fried ice cream never does. My mother loves the crunchy outer while Mr NQN devours the ice cream.
A plate of fortune cookies and mint chocolates comes out and I am always glad to look at my fortune. Mine reads, "Opportunities are about to unfurl themselves."
While the birthday girl (aka my mother's) reads: If you "Eat smart and be happy". Indeed.
So tell me Dear Reader, what flavour topping do you get with your deep fried ice cream? And do you remember things as being bigger? And do you pay attention to your fortunes?
This meal was independently paid for.
1/599 Pacific Hwy, St Leonards NSW 2065
Monday to Friday 12–9:30pm (close 10:30pm on Friday)
Saturday & Sunday 6–10:30pm
Phone: (02) 9438 2568