Nine Dishes

One night, a few months back, I told my chef and sous chef about this place that serves up meat skewers for a buck and Chinese beer for two bucks. I knew they’d be hungry and thirsty after toiling in the kitchen for eight hours, so I dragged their tired butts to Nine Dishes for a load of cheap beer and very spicy food.

I’d arrived just past 11. While waiting on the boys, I started taking shots of the exterior. Within a minute, or so, a tall, lanky, bald fellow comes out to clear off the sidewalk tables. Right away I knew that was If, the owner.

I first learned of this spot from Dylan at Jiaoqu. His very well-written post not only intrigued a load of foodies, it told the tale of a man who really, seriously wants to bring authentic Chinese fare to the working man.

If presides over an ultra-casual and partially do-it-yourself room. You’re handed the menus and an order pad.

The rice is free. It’s on a table over in the corner. Help yourself.

After reading of Dylan’s long-term, beer-fueled dining exploits, I expected nothing less. Turns out the “authorities” paid a visit and beer sales after eleven were verboten. Seems it’s great to load up folks til 2 am in a bar, but a few beer with food is illegal. Great system there.

We did, however, manage to wangle one round.

I really need to go back and pocket me a cool bottle-opener.

This is a delicious and diverse menu. From 99¢ skewers to the $20 Spicy Crayfish (and everything in between), there’s so much to check out. I can thoroughly understand spending five or six hours here…takes time to delve deep.

Chef loves him some offal. Me, not so much. I’m learning, though. Grew up on some great liver and onions…why is this so hard? It’s just tripe and kidney. Deliciously slathered in cilantro, chili, peanuts and a gargantuan whack of garlic.

Yeah, there’s some rubberiness, but for the most part, this is the intense region of flavour country. A perfect way to jack up the innards.

The Lamb Meat Kebab with Cumin and chile is worth well more than a buck. As are, probably all the other varieties. Except, maybe, the Pork Sausage Skewer. That one was a tad odiferous.

Nice, chewy noodles with crisp, cool cucumber and a bit too much saltiness. Would’ve been perfect with half as much soybean paste.

Sichuan Sausage is laced with a lot of Sichuan pepper (huājiāo). As Wikipedia says, it “sets the stage for hot spices”. Alrighty then. Bring on the heat.

The Spicy Crayfish are fresh out of a chili oil bath. Lathered in a gang of dried chili, cilantro and Sichuan pepper, this was a tongue and mind-numbing experience. Funny how one can’t get enough of this sort of thing.

Some wonderfully crisp Vegetable Fritters rounded the meal out nicely.

A very well-rounded menu and a whole bunch of value makes Nine Dishes worth many, many return visits.

Nine Dishes on Urbanspoon

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4 responses

  1. Cool post Karl! The value here seems the key point, as well as some pretty bold (and spicy) flavors. Added to my to-try list. 🙂

    December 18, 2010 at 10:44 pm

  2. Karl

    It really is worth a stretched-out visit. Best approached with a small gang of chilifreaks. If you’re going, let me know. We could arrange a good crew, say mid-January?

    December 22, 2010 at 2:09 am

  3. Darren White

    One of many restaurant accepting the illegal inducements offered by Yanjing Beer . The Canadian rep knows better and has been told by the liquor authorities to conduct business ethically and within the rules. But, hey anything to sell a product right?

    July 15, 2011 at 5:51 am

    • Karl

      If slipping in a few cold beers at bargain rates is a crime, it’s surely on the lower end of the scale. Why not criminalize the clubs that shovel shooters into teenagers at two in the morning knowing damn well most of them are driving to an after-hours? At least here, at Nine Dishes, the folk are having a nosh with their couple of beers. Maybe worry more about the high-octane piss-up joints…that’s where the real damage is being done.

      July 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

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