Best Chinese Restaurant Orange County 2013 - Chong Qing Mei Wei
When you see Sichuan food-lovers wiping away sweat, rubbing napkins over their noses, panting and looking generally miserable, you know they're having a damn-good meal. Chong Qing Mei Wei—the Beautiful Flavor of Chungking—is the county's most legitimate source for the addictive, mouth-numbing regional fare, with its time-honored belief that most dishes taste better when tossed with sliced serrano chiles, peppercorns and peppery oil. But it's not simply the fact that you might not feel your lips when you walk bleary-eyed out the door that makes the Irvine dive so memorable. It's that each bite is a flavor-packed thrill, a dose of sensory nirvana, whether you're digging into a plate of Sichuan fried tofu, pork spareribs, stir-fried lamb with cumin or, for the boldest of palates, fire-exploded kidney flowers. Just make sure to have plenty of bing shui (ice water) within arm's reach.