Poor Ralphie should be so lucky.
Poor Ralphie should be so lucky.

Dallas' Five Best Chinese Restaurants

Christmas is getting close, which means you should be finalizing your plans for Christmas Day dining. Many of you still cook at home, frittering away over some roast that you'll likely mess up, but you should ditch the goose, forget the crown roast of pork and let someone else do the cooking for once. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy the Chinese-food-on-Christmas tradition. The Parker family enjoyed roast duck for Christmas on account of those filthy Bumpus hounds 30 years ago, and this year it's about time you followed suit.

Here are are five great Chinese restaurants for Christmas or other any other day.

First Chinese BBQ Forget your conception of "traditional" Chinese food, you won't find that here. First Chinese BBQ focuses on Cantonese cooking from the southern, coastal part of China. Expect a lot of seafood, a lot of organ meat (marinated pig's intestines?) and zippy egg rolls. It's time to expand your Chinese food palate.

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Ma pow tofu will light up your Christmas.
Ma pow tofu will light up your Christmas.

Royal Sichuan If you're a bit of a hot-head Royal Sichuan has your covered. Dishes like the ma pow tofu pictured above and spicy fish soup come packed with chiles. Watch out for Sichuan peppercorns in many dishes too. Though not actually a peppercorn, the husks from these berries add an electric and numbing quality to dishes that's addictive.

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Hi Dan. Oh, hey Dan.
Hi Dan. Oh, hey Dan.

Royal China Royal China must remain in this list, if only for what happened to Lucky Cat last year. I'll never forget the look on that woman's face as she shuffled through the crowd while the porcelain token lay in shards at our feet.

See the dumpling and noodle station at the center of the restaurant? Order anything from there and you'll be good. And be ready for a wait unless you make a reservation this second. A really, really long wait.

*****
Dallas' Five Best Chinese Restaurants

Howard Wang If Cantonese and Sichuan cooking leave you feeling uneasy, I suggest you head to Howard Wang. This Uptown Chinese restaurant (there's another location in Preston Hollow) does a great job of reproducing, and even elevating, the Chinese-American food a lot of us grew up on. Moo goo gai pan, anyone? And don't sleep on the pork buns.

*****
Not your average cup of noodles
Not your average cup of noodles

Monkey King Noodle Company If you needed any more evidence that The Monkey King was one of a kind, you should know that they may be then only Chinese restaurant in Dallas that is not open on Christmas Day. Still, this list needs to be useful for more than one day a year. Starting December 26, get these guys right back in your rotation. Their beef noodle soup is first rate.

Just don't get any stupid ideas about the light post in front of the take-out window during the next cold snap. Even if they triple-dog-dare you.

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