Editor's note: The Vancouver location of Taste of Sichuan has closed. There is a second area location in beaverton.
I suffered a slurping accident. I took the end of a noodle too fast and ended up flinging fiery hot pepper sauce onto my cornea. As I stood in the restroom at this airplane hangar-sized restaurant in outer Vancouver, washing my eyes out and in intense pain as Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time" played, my thoughts returned to those noodles, and how I would gladly risk permanent visual impairment to slurp again. Yes, this Seattle-bred chain of Szechuan places is that good. On weekends, it serves soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) rolled and cut by the lady you see behind glass when you walk in—the only credible version I've had in town. Otherwise, flip directly to the "Wild Side" section and start ordering. My favorites include the Sichuan bean jelly ($7.95), noodly strips of mung bean jelly in a layered sauce of earthy heat and the classic chopped pepper hot chicken ($11.95) drenched in a spice blend that's extra heavy on numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
Pro tip: Slurp slowly.
GO: 16261 NW Cornell Road, Beaverton, 629-7001; 1825 SE 164th Ave., No. 110, Vancouver, Wash., 360-253-8133; tasteofsichuan.com. 11 am-2:30 pm and 4:30-9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-2:30 pm and 4:30-10 pm Friday, 11:30 am-2:30 pm Saturday-Sunday, 4:30-10 pm Saturday, 4:30-9:30 pm Sunday. $.