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Sep 6, 2007 12:56 PM

Best Hot Spicy Ethnic Food In S.F.?

I tried to do some searches but they didn't tell me what I hoped to find. I'll be in The City in late October and I'm looking for some recommendations for the best spicy ethnic hidden gems around town. I prefer low-key places because I'm ultra-casual and I'll be dining alone, but expense is not an issue. Asian, Indian, and Mexican are favorites, but I'll try any interesting place/cuisine, as long as it's long on flavor or something I can't get around Boston (Indonesian? Filipino? Burmese? Korean? Peruvian?). Last time I was out there I went to Z&Y on Jackson and a Sichuan joint out on Clement. I also went to a few good places in the Mission, one was highly recommended down around 25th Ave (St.?).

Thanks in Advance


P.S. If anyone has ideas about the best hole-in-the-wall Italian, Sushi, Tapas, or "California Cuisine" places, I'm all ears (doesn't have to be spicy, just great).

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      That Old Mandarin place sounds like a definite stop.

    2. There was a recent discussion of the Spices! restaurants:

      There are a couple of good Burmese restaurants -- everyone recommends Burma Superstar, but it's gotten really, really crowded, so you might want to try Mandalay.

      Peruvian food can be delicious and it's definitely a strength of the local ethnic dining scene, but it's not super spicy. Mochica and Inkas are a couple of good ones (here's a good report on Inkas:


      Filipino food is mostly found outside of SF proper: there's a Filipino enclave in Daly City (just south of SF), so if you have access to transportation, you should specify that.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I had a few dishes at Mochica that were spicy enough to please a chilehead: the dipping sauce served with the grilled octopus, "shrimp bisque with egg rice and cheese," papas a la huancaina, anticuchos. My favorite dish, the halibut tiraditos, is covered in pureed yellow aji chiles but the sauce is mild.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I think I ate at the Spices on Clement. I had a seafood dish encrusted with garlic and some wontons in hot oil. Pretty good stuff. I think I remember that Burma Superstar (isn't it in that same Clement St. area) being so crowded I didn't even attempt to go.

          I will have a car but I hope to not have to drive all over the Bay area just for a meal. Is there anything else in Daly City? Ethnic markets, perhaps?

          1. re: Dinsdale45

            Huge Korean supermarket in Daly City:

            Several others in Daly City including 99 Ranch and Manila Super...

            1. re: Dinsdale45

              FWIW, I didn't find Burma Superstar to be very spicy...

              1. re: chaddict

                I don't remember any notably spicy dishes at Burma Superstar either.

                Some of Larkin Express Deli's dishes are spicy--noodles with dried shrimp, pork curry, fried sour leaves.

                By The Bite's tea leaf salad was quite spicy, though not as good as Larkin Express's.

          2. Lahore Karahi, for Pakistani-Indian, in the Tenderloin. The tandoori fish is great with the heat cranked up.

            1. If you enjoyed Spices, you might want to try Henrey's Hunan near Second & Mission. My favorite dish is the Marty's Special (smoked ham and chicken). It's a spicy & salty gem. Just be sure to get some rice to cut down the heat a bit...

              3 Replies
              1. re: Civil Bear

                And the salt. The food's salted on the assumption that it will be eaten with plenty of unsalted rice.

                I like the #34 smoked ham and #12 hot and sour beef.

                Same menu at the other branches. The Sansome St. one has draft beer.

                Hunan Restaurant
                674 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                924 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                110 Natoma St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                1016 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                1. re: Civil Bear

                  Funny, I just went to Henry's Hunan today (on 8th and Bryant). They have a great chicken chow mein that they do spicy, but if that isn't enough heat for you, ask for the chili oil - it is awesome. The place is cheap too....lunch specials start at $5.50!

                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    I love Henry's (virtually always get the smoked ham rice plate or the cold chicken noodles with cucumbers) but it's not in the same category of heat as Spices.

                    Spices I is definitely my favorite hot hot place. I love the Old Mandarin but aside from the extremely hot pepper, the food isn't particular hot. Spices would be the Sichuan place on Clement.

                    Ethiopian/Eritrean food will often provide a kick you can't easily get elsewhere. I love the veggie combo at Axum in the lower Haight, but any decent Ethiopian/Eritrean place might do.

                    Not sure where you went at 25th Street and Mission--La Taqueria?

                  2. I'm addicted to Shalimar on Johns @Gerry they have the most authentic and amazing food