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Spicy & Tasty- not so spicy?

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I went to Spicy & Tasty last night for the first time and absolutely loved it. It was by far the best Chinese I've had. However, among the many dishes we ordered, none was particularly spicy (although each was very tasty.) Granted they were out of many of the dishes that had been recommended to us- the sesame cold noodle, the dan dan noodles, cold noodles w/ red chili sauce etc, but did we miss the boat somehow? We ordered the following-

Seaweed w/ fresh garlic (delicious)
Cold jelly chengdu style (a little spicy)
Steamed bun (basically dough with condensed milk, but I loved it)
wonton in red chili sauce
Diced chicken and peanuts w/ hot pepper (again yummy, but not terribly spicy)
Whole Tilapia home style (very mild)
Potato w/ green pepper (loved it, so good with some of the sauce from the cold jelly, chengdu style)
Chinese string bean with dried pepper (one of my absolute favorites!)
Vegetable Lo mein (fantastic)
Shredded Beef w/ fresh hot pepper (everyone I was with loved it,it wasn't my favorite)

So you see, a lot of different things, but none made me even close to teary eyed. Was it an off-night spice wise, or were my orders just of the non-spicy (but very tasty) variety?

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  1. in my experience, the cold dishes and appetizers are the most spicy, and the mains (including the ma la lamb and others you'd expect to have some kick) are much less so.

    intense sichuan peppercorn flavor and numbing (less than heat) in the dan dan noodles, and the celery bean curd appetizer

    1. I believe that the dishes you ordered are not unusually spicy. Also, the restaurant sometimes pulls their punches if they don't know you. There are some very spicy main dishes, especially the water cooked dishes called "in fresh hot pepper" or, in chinese, 水煮 191 through 200 on the menu, I think) But a dish doesn't have to be spicy to be excellent.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Brian S

        Anything chengdu style should be very spicy. Next time try their version of mapo tofu, which is a great test of a restaurant's heat.

      2. We went to S & P recently and I posted a series of questions. The one about the stinky tofu got the most attention. But no one addressed the one I asked about the spiciness of some dishes. In particular was a lamb dish with dried red chili peppers. I do all the cooking at home and often use the same dried chili's. The standard procedure is to cook the chilis in hot oil to flavor it. Even a few chilis give any dish a real kick. The dish came to the table with an incredible amount of these chilis. At first I was afraid of how hot this dish was going to be; yet it was remarkably mild given the the number of chilis. I said to my wife, If I didn't know better I'd say the chilis were only for show. Would love to hear some comments on this question. Thanks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: toby1355

          I had a similar dish at Little Pepper. I think they had taken the insides out of the chiles, so they were mild but did impart a good flavor. Still, it was my least favorite of all the many dishes I've had there.

        2. I had the lamb in fresh hot pepper a few weeks ago and I found it extremely spicy (in a good way, but wish I'd though to bring a towel for my head). The sesame noodles aren't very spicy at all, and I haven't had a chance to try some of the other spicy noodle appetizers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LloydG

            I had that dish too, and it was one of the spiciest dishes I've ever eaten. I loved it. Even my Indonesian friend, a person who puts extra spice on everything she eats, even if it shouldn't be spicy, thought it was hot.

          2. I do not get it. What is the issue here? I think most agree that Spicy & Tasty is a great restaurant with generally excellent and authentic food. Want to burn your digestive system with chili, go to Sripraphai and order the food 'spicy'. Coming from an Indian family from Singapore I often wonder why here in NY people do not expect Indian, Chinese, S. E. Asian food to be well prepared and digestible. Lots of oil, and an excessive use of spices and chili do not make good Asian food, even good Sichuan food. Too often I see very favorable reviews of restaurants whose food would not cut it in any Asian home with a good cook or even garner a following in a hawker center. Thanks for places like Spicy & Tasty and Upi Jaya which show that oil and spice and chili can be used well to create good Asian food that is properly spicy, favorable and digestible.

            7 Replies
            1. re: fondey

              The only issue is that some people apparently prefer their food spicier than you do. IMO, the problem of under-spicing is far more widespread than excessive use of the same. Perhaps you can provide us with some examples of places that, in your opinion, over-spice their food? I'm sure there are many 'hounds who would appreciate them even if you don't.

              1. re: fondey

                As I said several times in my posting, I loved Spicy & Tasty. It was delicious. I'd just read that it was often spicy enough to make people cry, and in my experience that wasn't the case. I wasn't upset or disapointed; I don't want to burn my digestive system; I was just curious about the discrepancy.

                1. re: fondey

                  I agree that there are some Chowhounds who seem to take eating the spiciest possible food as a sport. I've probably been to Spicy & Tasty some 50 times, and the food is plenty spicy for me, and more importantly, delicious!

                  1. re: Pan

                    Exactly. And there is also the false idea around that "more spicy equals more authentic." Based on comments from people who've traveled to China and other comments by ethnic Chinese posters it seems like the level of spicing varies from dish to dish. It's not all *supposed* to be blazing hot.

                    There is also the factor that people's spice tolerance varies. I know some very experienced diners who are tremendously affected by Szechuan pepper corns. They say that after eating a dish like dan-dan noodles they can't taste the rest of the meal. Other people can handle them fine. One person's "spicy" is another person's "normal."

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      Totally agree. I've encountered people who expect *Cantonese* food to be very spicy, and of course it isn't.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        agree as well...but if you ever go to Chengdu those people are no joke, I could handle it, but I was seriously literally sweating at 90% of the meals though it was one of the best food cities i've ever been to

                    2. re: fondey

                      "...I often wonder why here in NY people do not expect Indian, Chinese, S. E. Asian food to be well prepared and digestible..."

                      As many times as you post this generalization, that's as many times as I will oppose it. This is just not true, not of me, of the food-loving people I know in NYC, or, from what I read here, of the people who post on this site.

                      The fact that S&T is one of the most talked about restaurants on Chowhound should indicate to you that perhaps you should re-think this generalization about New Yorkers.
                      P.