After wandering around World Square a little aimlessly when we found out that our 1st and 2nd choice restaurants don’t open for Sunday lunch (who doesn’t in South CBD?), we chanced on Dainty Sichuan Noodle Express situated on the ground floor within the World Square complex. I was later blown away to find out that just within the World Square block alone, there were 52 different food & drink establishments! That’s crazy, we’re very spoilt for choice! And although we didn’t plan to eat here, we were pleasantly surprised to find an airy inviting restaurant with a relaxed vibe to it, offering dumplings, hand-made noodles and snacks (what you’d expect from Chinatown) but with a CBD-like sophistication.
The polite and efficient staff saw us to our table, and after a short deliberation we decided on Fried Crispy Chicken Balls as a starter, Stewed Pork Belly Noodle soup, and 12 Prawn and Cucumber Dumplings to share.
I guess the ‘Express’ word in its title was the reason why it was a part full-service/part self-service restaurant, as you had to make your order at the counter and pay on the spot (the food was delivered to your table though). As we waited I assessed their table setting, scoring them 2 stars out of 5 on the napkin test (all of your cutlery and serviettes were grouped to the centre of the table for self-service); the chopsticks were nice reusable ones, while the soup spoons were disposable. The actual ambience of the restaurant was modern, with artful fixtures on the ceilings; an open kitchen where you could hear all that was going on in there; and diners had the option of eating alfresco or inside under cover. While the Mando pop playlist was a stand-out for us, we spent most of lunch playing music-association e.g. “Hey! This band sounds like a Mando version of Nickleback!” And later on there was a Mando Linkin Park sound-alike, it was hilarious!
When the food arrived (it was a very brief wait), our game of music-association extended into a game of food-association, the Fried Chicken Balls were like KFC popcorn chicken (which wasn’t a bad thing) right down to the self-made Sweet & Sour dipping sauce (Exhibit A). While the Braised Pork Belly with Noodles in soup, the flat noodles were kind of like your typical thick rice noodles found in the Thai dish Pad Kee Mao, but it was also actually a nice hand-made noodle which had a great chewy texture to it. The pork was cooked perfectly, however the soup and the pork belly was a little bit on the bland side. But I can put my hand-up and admit that it was probably my fault, as I was steering away from every dish which had a 2 or 3 chilli rating next to it (although most people come to a Sichuan restaurant for a chilli hit), as I was still traumatised from my Southern Thai experience (see previous posts). Our third dish, the Prawn and Cucumber Dumplings, were a bit of a letdown for us, as the dumplings ended up being a non-descript mouthful of boiled mush; the prawns were diced into small pieces (perhaps 3 fragments per dumpling), and again it was a little tasteless. But for each dish the portions were large, fairly priced for the CBD, and it did hit the spot without hitting the hip pocket too hard which is always nice. *Thumbs-up*.
So all in all, the food was a little unremarkable, the restaurant itself was modern and clean (a nice change from the usual Chinatown establishments), and the service was polite and efficient. So 3.5 stars is a fair assessment of the entire experience, and I would definitely come back to try something more spicy in the future, once I get over my chilli PTSD (Post-Thai Spice-Disorder).
Dainty Sichuan Noodle Express- Sunday 9 September
PH: (02) 9266 0260
Ground Level, World Square Shopping Centre, 644 George Street, Sydney NSW
Mon-Fri 11.30am – 9pm