Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 34: Royal Sichuan

Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

Chinese food has gotten a bad rap, thanks to sesame chicken, beef and broccoli and other dishes that eat like lead. Those recipes can be great if they're prepared with a modicum of care, but they rarely are. That's why you always end up taking home leftovers to congeal in the back of your refrigerator.

If you end up with a doggy bag from Royal Sichuan, though, it's likely because you couldn't control yourself while perusing the menu and ordered too many dishes -- not because any one of them is a gut bomb. There's just too much to explore -- think poached sliced fish in hot chili oil -- and it eats like a Chinese adventure.

Underneath that raft of chilies are tender chunks of fish that the waitstaff says changes with the kitchen's whim, and bean sprouts that still have some snap. It all swims in a smoky, spicy broth.

There's Dan-Dan noodles hopped up with electric Sichuan peppercorns, and lamb stir-fried with an absurd amount of cumin. Get the ma pao tofu, which turns the chili heat up to ten, and bring a six pack of your favorite beer to help squelch the flames.

Sure, there's orange chicken if you feel the need to order such things. But why would you when you're dining a restaurant with so many alternatives? A meal ordered at Royal Sichuan with an adventurous spirit is beyond interesting -- it's fascinating -- and will ruin you for cheap take-out for good.

No. 50: Joyce and Gigi's No. 49: East Hampton Sandwich Co. No. 48: 20 Feet Seafood Joint No. 47: Taj Chaat House No. 46: Mot Hai Ba No. 45: La Nueva Fresh and Hot No. 44: Pera Turkish Kitchen No. 43: Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 42: Mughlai No. 41: Russian Banya No. 40: Off-Site Kitchen No. 39: Bachman Lake Taqueria No. 38: Carbone's No. 37: Babe's No. 36: Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo No. 35: Zaguan

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