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BEST FORLunch; dinner
PRICE (APPETIZER; ENTRÉE)RMB 10-30; RMB 15-50
FAMOUS PLATESDandan mian (pork and chili noodles); hongyou shuijiao (dumplings in chili oil); shuizhuyu (spicy fish); mapuo doufu (mapo tofu)
DRINKS AND WINEChinese beers; soft drinks; baijiu (Chinese white spirits)
# OF SEATSA lot! (200+)
PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE?Yes
The crowds are massive, but no one’s here for the ambiance: the uninspired but clean banquet-sized room–complete with buzzing fluorescent lights, disposable plastic tablecloths, and harried service–has “state run” stamped all over it. It’s the generous helpings of ultra-authentic, blazingly spicy Sichuan fare that are the big draw, and the impossibly long lines of punters willing to suffer the drab setting are testimony to just how good it is. Chefs and ingredients are imported from the home province, and the resulting culinary creations have enough of a chili kick to put hair on anyone’s chest.
Sichuan natives and Beijing locals love it for the authentic flavors and the rock bottom prices. Increasingly large numbers of in-the-know foreign tourists also have been stopping by, replacing a trip to Sichuan itself with culinary adventures here.
WHAT WE WOULD WEAR
As casual as they come; go with something you don’t mind splashing chili oil on, because even the most adroit chopstick holder is bound to come away flecked with red oil. We’d wear jeans and a dark machine-washable top–throw on some fun clunky jewelry and you’ll be golden.
GO HERE WITH
Friends - ideally three or four compadres to maximize the number of dishes you can sample
WHY WE LIKE IT
The bona fide Sichuan flavors are hands-down the best in town, especially if you can handle the screamingly hot chilis. And let’s not forget the Sichuan peppercorn, that generator of the fantastic mala flavor–delicious! The bargain basement prices certainly sweeten the deal, too.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
The blah décor. A couple of lamps and a coat of paint would really perk things up. Also, long waits to score a table aren’t fun. (But good things come to those who wait, right? And in this case, they really do.)
GOOD TO KNOW
The star ratings on the menu give a guide to spiciness of the dishes. Definitely stick to one-star options if you can’t take much heat–even those still have a potent chili kick. The restaurant is also housed in the same complex as the Sichuan Provincial Government, which runs the restaurant.
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