Have you fallen under the spell of Pokemon GO? I’m officially obsessed and developing a crick in my neck as a result of constantly staring at my phone. Catching Pokemon and collecting pokeballs is all I do on my commute to and from work and on my lunchtime breaks.
My husband and brother are similarly obsessed, and now my father is starting to play it too. This past weekend, we even went into the city specifically to catch Pokemon as my dad wasn’t happy with the range of Pokemon around our house!
Halfway through our Pokemon odyssey, we dropped into Lost Heaven Sichuan Restaurant in Chinatown. It’s located in the former Dainty Sichuan, but these days it’s better known as the Melbourne restaurant setting a trend by being the first to offer discounts for Pokemon trainers.
30% off for Pokemon trainers who have any one of the following: Cubone, Magmar, Abra, Kangaskhan, Voltorb, Drowzee, Golduck or Magnemite. 10% off for Pokemon trainers who have any one of the following: Tangela, Gloom, Haunter, Vulpix, Arbok, Beedrill, Seel or Mankey. Armed with my Abra and Kangaskhan, we were looking forward to having a 30% discount on our meal.
We started off by sharing a jug of warm Honey Citron Tea, much needed to help us warm up after braving the blustery Melbourne winds while capturing Pokemon. It was deliciously warming and comforting, though it did taste a little bit like it had come right out of a jar of yujacha. That’s not a bad thing!
Dad did most of the ordering so that he could choose his favourite dishes – Yangzhou Fried Rice for one. This was a fairly standard fried rice, but I did like the plumpness of the shrimp and the freshness of the juicy green peas. The good thing about this fried rice is that it wasn’t too heavily salted, making it the perfect rice base for the more heavily flavoured dishes to come.
This is one of my dad’s favourite dishes and one that he often makes at home himself – Salt and Pepper Chicken Spare Ribs. As much as this might hurt my dad’s feelings, I have to say it; these chicken spare ribs are much better than those my dad makes! The crispy crunchy deep-fried chicken was deliciously salty and peppery, with a fantastic chilli kick and a mouth-watering crispy shallot topping.
The Oil-less Spicy Fish was incredibly misleading. While it looked fairly innocuous on the surface, it proved to be the death of me. The latent chilli heat of this fish soup had me sweating bullets and flushed my cheeks for next few hours. My lips and tongue were also tingling from the numbing chilli heat as I was eating! This is not a dish that should be ordered by anyone who can’t stand chilli, it’s definitely for chilli professionals only. A hidden benefit of this heat of course, was that I stayed deliciously toasty and warm for the rest of our Pokemon-catching day.
The plain stir-fried Lo Han Vegetables proved to be a nice balm against the heat of the chilli fish. The dish were fairly plain, relying on the innate freshness and flavour of the vegetables to stand out. A simple and relatively healthy dish, free of the excess oil that usually characterises a Mixed Vegetable dish at a Chinese restaurant.
We finished off our meal with Lost Heaven’s signature Sweet and Sour Pork Tenderloin, crunchy thinly sliced strips of pork coated in a very sweet sauce. The sauce of this dish is much stickier and less runny than you will find in your usual suburban Chinese takeaway’s sweet and sour pork, with much more honey used in the base. A winner if you have a sweet tooth.
Lost Heaven may have gotten my attention based on a gimmicky promotion capitalising on the popularity of Pokemon GO, but it proved to be much more than cheap tricks. The food speaks for itself, with each dish being better than the last. With our 30% Pokemon-based discount, this meal ended up costing just about $70 AUD – a real bargain given we ordered five dishes and a jug of tea.
My father was so impressed with the meal that he even suggested we return in the next few weeks…no doubt the next time we venture out to the city as a family to catch Pokemon!
Lost Heaven Sichuan Restaurant is on Level 2, 206 Bourke St, Melbourne.