Dainty Sichuan Lonsdale is the latest in the Dainty dynasty that started in 2003 and now consists of eight restaurants ranging from South Yarra to Maribyrnong, Glen Waverley and Box Hill, including offshoot Tina's Noodle Kitchen.
Dainty Lonsdale is the biggest and glitziest to date, seating more than 200 in a dining room that took six months to fit out and resembles a luxury hotel lobby, with colour-graded clusters of bird-cage ornaments hanging from the ceiling, carved wood screens and ornate panelling.
Dainty Lonsdale does individual hotpots, as at Dainty Box Hill. Tick a soup base (one per person) on the menu card, then indicate your add-ins, which are brought raw, in elaborate arrangements, for you to cook at your own personal induction cooktop inlaid into the table.
Base flavours, including seafood, spicy (look out), and mushroom are regularly topped up by roving staff with giant kettles.
There's an exhaustive range of add-ins, including traditional Sichuan ingredients, such as tripe and tendon, as well as meat and seafood, like the combo of prawns, abalone, scallops, mussels and baby octopus.
Open daily, 11.30am-3pm and 5pm-10pm.
149 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 9662 2019