Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen, 311 Racecourse Rd, Flemington. Phone: 9372 5218
Entering Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen for a Sunday feast, we wonder why it’s taken so long for us to visit.
After all, this establishment has been around for a while now and, heck, we’ve tried just about every other eatery in the Racecourse Rd/Pin Oak Crescent vicinity.
No matter – we’re in the house now and up for dumplings and whatever else may eventuate.
In the days before Consider The Sauce, these premises were actually a regular for us in the form of a pretty good Malaysian/Chinese place called The Big Chopstix, which was followed by another rather nondescript Chinese joint and then (as far as I know) by the current Szechuan emporium.
The new look for the new business is rather wonderful, with all the bits and pieces finding a harmony that is unusual for this neighbourhood and the kinds of places we gravitate towards in general.
Lovely, heavy wooden tables of the rustic variety, overtly plump chairs, wall coverings and table adornments all work together.
We are handed two menus – one is a lavish affair with stacks of great photos of a dizzying array of dishes; the other is a more rudimentary single page of noodles, rice dishes, dumplings and a few others bits and pieces.
Reading the main menu is a drool-inducing experience.
There’s a lot of food here that we will find a little challenging on future visits – there’s a lot of offal, for starters.
But there’s also a lot of amazing looking dishes featuring ingredients we are more familiar with done in ways we’ve never before encountered – even in our previous experiences with Szechuan food, as limited as that is.
But on the basis of the two simple dishes we order for our lunch, future visits will definitely happen, and soon at that – they are truly fantastic.
We split our order, after conferring with the friendly waitress, between the two menus.
Pan-fired chicken and prawn dumplings ($8.80) are superb – and illustrate vividly the folly we quite often commit by ordering dumplings of various sorts at places that don’t specialise in them.
These are a cut above the rest.
The upper pastry is soft and unchewy, the bottoms agreeably crunchy and the fillings – with the chicken meat stuffed into the inner curve of the prawn meat – of high and delicious quality, perfumed with just the right amount of ginger.
Our second dish comes from the main menu – smoked pork spare ribs ($18.80).
It’s mind-blowingly good.
The meat comes away from the bones easily and is wonderfully tender. There are a few stray, tiny and dangerous bone pieces, though, for those looking to protect their dental investment.
Just as good as the ribs themselves is the accompanying mix of chillies slices, crushed and whole peanuts, green onion slices and no doubt a whole lot more.
This is quite similar to the spice mix we often get when ordering spicy chicken ribs elsewhere, but this is better – deeper, richer, more complex.
In her review, Ms Baklover says a lot of the food here is covered in a chilli-and-cumin blend, so that could be what’s at play here as well.
In any case, it’s all superb, with a quite high level of heat that is of the wonderful slow burn variety.
Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen – what took us so long?