Best Chinese - 2012
When you think handcrafted pasta in Dallas, the well-adorned creations of Nonna and Lucia are likely the first dishes to pop into your head. The intense, rich, seasonally inspired recipes change often, bringing a seemingly endless array of flavors. At Royal China, Zhang Xue Liang takes a different approach to his pasta making, and it's no less impressive. The Chinese noodle chef employs repetition, working hours on end to produce a small array of noodles that are simple and consistent. Liang starts with a small ball of rice flour dough he pulls into a disk before his arms turn to rubber and the disk lengthens into undulating waves. With a quick tear, and a flash of scissors those waves become wide-flat noodles that are dressed in an oily sauce of Sichuan peppercorns. Before you know it he's working with another piece of dough, this time a rope, that he draws open like curtains over and over again till the strands are as fine as the hair on a horse's tail. The thin, wispy noodles are even more impressive for their delicacy.