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8. La Zi Ji Ding at Chong Qing Mei Wei

We're reaching the end of 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

There's something about the heavy-handed way with which Szechwan restaurants–real Szechwan restaurants, not their Americanized Chinese pretenders that dot the landscape in the U.S.–season their food that is just irresistible to me. I'm not a chile head; I don't collect hot sauces with names like “Nuke Yer Bungo” and “In Your Face, Space Coyote”.

But I do crave la zi, the simple preparation in which meats (or tofu, as in the picture above) are deep-fried, then have salt, chiles, green onions and Szechwan peppercorns scattered over them. It's a simple dish–it just means “spicy”–but knocks my socks off every time I order it.

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The List:

9. Grilled Cheese at Sessions West Coast Deli [1]
10. Lobster Beignet from Slapfish [2]
11. Lunch Buffet at Vishnu [3]
12. The Choco Taco (and Everything Else I Ate) at Playground 2.0 [4]
13. $3.95 Filipino Breakfast at Grill City
14. “Not Pa' Ella” at Anepalco [5]
15. Trout at the North Left [6]
16. Fatteh at Kareem's Restaurant [7]
17. Charred Sous-Vide Octopus at Lola Gaspar [8]
18. Strawberry Shortcake from Disneyland's Plaza Inn [9]
19. Korean Funyuns at The Past Memories [10]
20. Chicken Curry Sandwich at C'est Si Bon Bakery [11]
21. Quail at Medii Kitchen [12]
22. Pulled Pork Sliders at Big B's Barbecue [13]
23. Beef Panaeng at Essential Thai Cuisine [14]
24. Muhammara at Aleppo's Kitchen [15]
25. Chicken 65 at Annapoorna [16]
26. Protein-Style Lobster Roll at Slapfish [17]
27. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard Restaurant [18]
28. Coffee Eclair at La Petite Sourie [19]
29. Mango Tango Joe Latti at Joe's Italian Ice [20]
30. Chicken Wasabi Yakitori at Kappo Honda [21]
31. Carrot Cake at Alta Coffee [22]
32. Egg Tart at 85 Degrees Cafe Bakery [23]
33. Fried Torn Baked Potatoes at Wagyu Chuck
34. Green Onion Pancake Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express [24]
35. Green Tea Snow at Snow Station [25]
36. Plato's Salad Bowl At Falasophy [26]
37. The Benedict Omelette at Egg Cracker [27]
38. Fig N Burrata Tart at Driftwood Kitchen [28]
39. Lemon Steam Cake at SideDoor [29]
40. Frog Legs at Cafe Beau Soleil [30]
41. Banh Khoai at Huong Vy [31]
42. Bibimbap at Morangak [32]
43. Salade Niçoise at Bistro Papillote [33]
44. Poke at Bear Flag Fish Company [34]
45. Tijuana-Style Carne Asada Tacos at Tío Flaco's [35]
46. NM Style Enchiladas at Panxa Cocina [36]
47. Pan-Fried Crispy Noodles With Shredded Pork at Phoenix Food Boutique [37]
48. The Happy Hour Menu at TAPS [38]
49. Pork Cutlet Curry at Cafe Hiro [39]
50. Piadina at Piadina [40]
51. Consomé de Barbacoa at El Torito Nuevo [41]
52. Black Goat Casserole at Mirak [42]
53. Wagon Wheel at French's Cupcake Bakery [43]
54. Molletes at Taco Maria [44]
55. That Awesome Hot Sauce at Akropolis [45]
56. The Hermanator at Peter's Gourmade Grill [46]
57. Bolsa Bao at Baos Hog [47]
58. Full Moon Roll at Full Moon Sushi [48]
59. Fried Chicken at Plaza Inn [49]
60. Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen at Ramen Yamadaya [50]
61. Three-Meat Combo at Robert Earl's BBQ [51]
62. AYCE Sushi at Sake 2 Me [52]
63. Yaki Dog at Burntzilla [53]
64. Fruit Sorbet at the Playground [54]
66. Dulce de Leche Walnut Shrimp Taco at Dos Chinos [55]
65. Buñuelo Waffle at Waffles Inc [56]
67. Cajun Seafood Pasta at The Big Catch [57]
68. Belgian Fries at Wursthaus [58]
69. Scoops x Contra Ice Cream Float at Scoops Ice Cream Santa Ana [59]
70. Buttermilk Panna Cotta at Lola Gaspar [60]
71. Hummus at Mick's Karma Bar [61]
72. Savory Baked Goat Cheese Bread Pudding at Eat Chow [62]
73. Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza at Perry's Pizza N Italian Restaurant [63]
74. Kabocha Honey Nuts at Kabuki [64]
75. Smashed Potatoes at Standing O [65]
76. Dim Sum at Seafood Cove #2 [66]
77. Loco Moco at Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe [67]
78. Bratwurst at Barley Forge [68]
79. Beef Noodle Soup at (Wafting Fragrance) Noodle House [69]
80. Taco de Nopal at Urban Cactus [70]
81. Fried Chicken at Crazy Chi-Mac [71]
82. Mole Tots at Amor y Tacos [72]
83. Khao Soi at S.T. Noodle Bar [73]
84. Chili Cone Queso at Cozy Cone Motel [74]
85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood [75]
86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate [76]
87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft [77]
88. Cornbread Waffle N Chicken at Mrs. Bea's [78]
89. Everything at Crispy Town [79]
90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms [80]
91. Tostilocos at Tortas y Biónicos “Nice” [81]
92. Milanesa at Delicias Peruanas [82]
93. Super Nachos at Kelly's Korner Tavern [83]
94. Tortas at Sliced and Diced Eatery [84]
95. Seasonal Dumplings at Coconut Rabbit [85]
96. Burrito de Birria de Res from Burritos La Palma [86]
97. Bò Kho at Song Long Restaurant [87]
98. Pancake Sandwich at Willowick Golf Course [88]
99. Tahdig at Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill [89]
100. Quatro Formaggi Panini at Old Vine Cafe [90]

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