100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes, No. 74: Spicy Fish in Oil at Royal Sichuan

To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

Hungry? Grab a friend and make haste to Royal Sichuan. Actually, take a few friends if you can, because the more you bring, the more you'll explore. But bring at least one or you'll never make it through this dish, and you'll probably want to save some room for some ma po tofu, anyway.

Granted the spicy fish looks, well, spicy. There's a raft of toasted chilies sitting on top of the bowl when it arrives -- so many your waitress follows with a spoon to fish most of them out. But the chilies are more for presentation and the subtle, toasty aroma they cause to waft up from the bowl.

They add a little heat to the soup below, too, but just the right amount, resonating with the warmth of the broth and imparting a delicate smoky flavor.

Now get to work. Cast a few more of those chilies off to the side so you can get to the broth below. There are huge hunks of white fish lurking beneath the surface, among a massive tangle of bean spouts and errant chilies. This is a soup you eat like an aquatic explorer, or perhaps a naval sea captain navigating land mines. I've never seen a table make it to the bottom of a bowl. Will you?

No. 100: Pastrami Egg Rolls at Blind Butcher No. 99: Chicken-fried Steak at Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 98: Pasta with Uni Butter at Nonna No. 97: Camarón en Agua Chile at La Palapas No. 96: The Wings at Lakewood Landing No. 94: Chicken Kebab at Afrah No. 93: Trompo Tacos at Bachman Lake No. 92: Fish and Chips at 20 Feet No. 91: Canelés at Village Baking Co. No. 90: Banh Mi from La Me No. 88: The Burgers at Off-Site Kitchen No. 87: The White Album at Spoon No. 86: Ramen at Tei An No. 85: Tacos at Revolver Taco No. 84: Stuffed Chicken Wings at Sakhuu No. 83: Korean Fried Chicken at Bonchon No. 82: Grilled Branzino at Tei Tei Robata No. 81: The Toddfather at Cattleack Barbecue No. 80: The Biryanis at Chennai No. 79: Shish Tawook at Qariah No. 78: Arepes at Zaguan No. 77: Goat Momo at Everest Restaurant No. 76: Steak Tartar at Gemma No. 75: Escabeche at Joyce and Gigi's No. 74: Guisado Verde Tacos from La Nueva Fresh and Hot