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Sichuan Provincial Government Restaurant, Beijing

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5 Jianguomen Gongyuan Toutiao
Tel: 86 10 6512 2277's insider take:

Packed with red-faced patrons eating lip-tingling fare, this restaurant—which is indeed operated by the Sichuan provincial government and staffed solely by Sichuan locals—is worth seeking out. The decor—if fluorescent lights and linoleum floors can be considered decor—may scream "state-owned," but the kitchen's skillful blend of chile peppers and numbing Sichuan peppercorns makes for some unforgettably spicy meals. Among the best dishes are shuizhuyu—filleted grass carp delicately poached in fragrant oil—and dandan mian, slender noodles tossed with chili oil and ground pork. If your heat tolerance is low, go for the yuxiang rousi: strips of pork in a sweet, savory, only slightly spicy sauce.

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