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Putting all punctuation enthusiasts on notice: Don't put an exclamation point in the name of your restaurant if you're not ready to deliver on your promises.

Perhaps understandably, we were expecting Spices!, a Szechuan restaurant in the Richmond, to bring, you know, spicy(!) food. A good Szechuan meal is like a crazy night on the town: really fun, but it's going to hurt a little bit. After hearing this place talked up as being one of the best Szechuan restaurants in the city, that's what we went in expecting.

The setting is suitably ragtag — basic decor, cramped tables, etc. The prices are reasonable. The food has the visual appearance of the good stuff. But on the attribute that matters (crazy-ass tingling-numbing flavor), Spices! falls short.

The fried chicken is appropriately greasy, but not mouth burning. The cumin lamb could use more, dare we say, cumin. And the beef noodles are...nice. If you live in the area, this is a killer takeout place. If you don't, you'll still have a solid meal, even if it's not worth a journey.

Unlike the fiery madness of an ELITE Szechuan meal, Spices! is pleasing and amenable, but unremarkable. Bring the rain, people. Put the hurt on your customers. If you're willing, we're ready.

Food Rundown

Fried chicken

It's fried chicken wings. What more do you want from them?

Beef Noodle Soup

Gotta get some carbs in your game (besides the breading on the chicken). Come in a pool of red soup, but worry not. They're not too spicy.

Cumin Lamb

A good cumin lamb knocks you back from across the room. This was slightly potent at a distance of 2-4cm.

Spicy Fish

Whitefish in peppery broth, as you'd expect. Not bad.

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