Historically, Australian restaurant chains can be hit-and-miss in terms of quality. China, on the other hand, has premium chains, and over the years many of them have made their way to Sydney. Spicy Joint on Dixon Street is a prime example. The restaurant is extravagant, with sculpted timber features, plush furniture, a faux-pagoda over the restaurant’s entrance like an awning, and a private room that could win a design award.

Then there’s the menu, which is like a glossy magazine – one dish per page, all of them styled. It’s a tome of a thing, and can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with Sichuan cuisine.

A good first-time order is the shui zhu yu (it translates to “water-boiled fish”, but that’s seriously underselling it), a fillet of catfish lightly poached in broth and finished with a splash of scalding oil. You could also go for signature cold chicken bathing in chilli sauce with peanut dressing, or the chilli-laced Chengdu-style brisket hotpot.

Get any of these large dishes with a side of noodles – strings of wheat rolled prettily into little cylinders and dressed with a sesame-soy blend. They’re served cold and intentionally taste a bit bland; a refuge from the intense heat of your main meal.

The menu at Spicy Joint is best conquered with a big crew in tow: portions are huge, and you’ll want to experience the full breadth of flavours, textures, offaly bits, carbs and soups on offer here.

One last tip: arrive early. Despite the size of the space, it’s often packed and getting a seat during peak times will mean an average wait of up to 40 minutes.

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Updated: April 21st, 2023

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