HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Spiciest Thai (or other) in Manhattan?

Ok, so we all know there's Sri Pra Phai, but I'm feeling lazy and it's Saturday night. I want some serious burn-your-face-off food right now. Went to New Green Bo the other day for their whole fish with chili sauce which is just plain weak these days compared to what it used to be, and I'm still not satisfied. Could be Thai, or I could deal with Szechuan (though I'd rather not brave C-town right now...)...something from that general part of the world. (i.e. not Indian or Mexican spicy.)


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Zabb City on 13th for Thai, Grand Sichuan on St. Mark's, or Brick Lane on 6th for Indian.

    1. I'm sure this comes too late, but any of the soon doo bu dishes at Seoul Garden ordered "very spicy" should do the trick.

      1. Too late now, but for future reference. The fish fillets in spiced chili broth at Szechuan Gourmet will seriously burn your face off.

        2 Replies
        1. re: banquo

          The ma po tofu at SG nearly caused me to have an aneurysm, it was so spicy. But delicious. But also lip-numbing.

          1. re: banquo

            The SG spicy braised beef noodle burned a hole in my intestines. I nearly went blind from all the sweat running into my eyes.

          2. Ok, so I went with Zabb City (you other folks indeed did chime in too late, but thanks). I ordered the spiciest sounding things I could find...the squid in hot chili sauce, the spicy green apple salad, the pork labb, etc. None were that spicy - the apple salad, maybe, but only if you shoveled in five forkfuls without taking a breath. Anyway, I'm a regular at Grand Sichuan already, and a definite nod to the soon doo bu's of K-town. Haven't been to Szechuan Gourmet, but will definitely check it out. Thanks!

            5 Replies
            1. re: ltownsend

              I obviously don't know exactly how you went about things, but I do find that (and I realize this is cliche at this point) if you don't put serious effort into convincing Thai folks that you want the spice, you won't get it. They're all capable of making things incredibly spicy, they just won't do it if they think you're going to send the food back.

              1. re: ltownsend

                Zabb City isn't the same as Zabb Queens--the restaurant with some of the hottest Thai food in the city. We're not big fans of the Zabb City shop, for some of the reasons you mention. That said, we've had good luck getting spicy food (on request) at Chai Thai Home Kitchen on 8th Avenue and 55th.

                Pam Real Thai will do it if you beg them, and Wondee Siam II will do it for delivery if you tell the server that you're ordering for a Thai person.

                NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                1. re: ltownsend

                  Try the basil fried rice--insist on "five star spicy". The thought of it makes me sweat. Zabb City is the best option in the immediate area, although their curries are not their strong point.

                  1. re: ltownsend

                    If you like Szechuan dishes, I recommend Wu Liang Ye. There are a few branches in Manhattan but I prefer the one on W 48th street near Rockfeller Center. Their Dan Dan noodle is fairly spicy (both in terms of heat level as well as the numbness you get from the Szechuan peppercorns) and the
                    "Braised Beef Filets & Napa Cabbage With Roasted Chili" is pretty hot too. I usually take the leftover and then add some tofu to make a "casserole" the next day to tone down the heat. But for those folks who like hot and spicy, it might be "just right"!

                    I have never been to Grand Sichuan. What are their signature dishes? Did you go to the location in Chinatown? I am curious about it.

                    1. re: bearmi

                      I dont think either of those two dishes are that spicy. They are both very, very good but not burners. I think Grand sichuan does a better job with dan dan noodles as well.

                  2. Also for future reference, the gra prow kai dow (ground, spiced chicken or pork over rice) at Thai Market is phenomenal -- and pretty darn hot. The chefs there will make any other dish on the menu as spicy as you want it, as well.

                    1. I always order "Thai spicy" and assure them I eat capsicum almost everyday and also say I like "pekinu" or however you pronounce the little green chilis. At Wondee 1 I got the country curry and it was perfect! Sometimes though, all they do is sprinkle some flaked red pepper on it. That's not what I mean by spicy! Does anyone else have this problem? It has to be COOKED spicy, with the really serious chilies, not just slightly doctored. Both Spice and Cafetasia do the red pepper routine, and it is singularly unsatisfying, way different than, say, a panang curry cooked so spicy your lips melt.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: sing me a bar

                        i realize this is too late but for next time, i recommend jaiya on 3rd and E28th. i always spend quite some time convincing thai restaurants that i can really tolerate 'thai spicy' as i practically drink the hot pepper sauce in korean restaurants. i've done panaag curry (done really spicy) at thai market and just about anything at jaiya. they even do the pad thai spicy there if you convince them - so spicy that even i was hurting. they will spend quite a bit of time discussing the spice level and totally understand that some americans can tolerate it. they aren't afraid to serve their food extremely spicy.

                        1. re: nativeNYer

                          i agree - jaiya will make it so hot that your insides burn if you ask for "extra spicy."

                          1. re: aowhite

                            ahhh so Jaiya has changed. Back around 1988, when they were perhaps the best in the city, they got a lot of bad publicity for a little scheme which they thought would win everyone's praise. The waiter would take his best guess as to the ethnic identity of the customer and write it in a numeric code on the order. That number determined how spicy you got the food, no matter what you asked for.

                            1. re: Brian S

                              wow. that's really interesting b/c, out of all the thai restaurants i've been in, Jaiya is the only place that has discussed the spice level at great length with what seemed to be a genuine interest. seems like the bad publicity may have worked . i'd be curious to hear your feedback if you wind up trying it again.

                          2. re: nativeNYer

                            I agree with you guys. I was at Jaiya a few years ago and ordered the "Jungle Curry"... it's one of the spiciest curry I have ever had in the US.

                            1. re: bearmi

                              Personally I'm a huge fan of Jaiya. I've been there 3-4 times in the last 6 months or so. I went with someone who doesn't really go for the crazy fire heat. I think we ordered "medum." It was still reasonably spicy. There's something about their food though that is qualitatively better than most other thai places in manhattan. I haven't been to ALL of them, but of those I've been to, only Srip beats it.

                              I bet they'd make something very spicy for you. They seem extremely accomodating.

                              1. re: egit

                                i completely agree. the food at jaiya is definitely far better than the numerous thai places i've tried throughout the city, including those along 9th ave.

                        2. for thai food, learn the phrase "pet mah" (lit: spicy very) add more "mahs" for more "pet"

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: thew

                            ha! i like that a lot. very helpful! thanks!

                            1. re: thew

                              Hi thew,

                              How do you pronounce it?

                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                just like it's spelled. like your dog and your mother. pet mah (i put on the "h" because its a slightly longer duration of the "a" sound)

                                1. re: thew

                                  has anyone been to chinese mirch (28th and lex)? I like mod-high spicy food and we have a lamb dish that burned my face off.

                                  1. re: tracyw19

                                    I like their crispy szechuan lamb a way lot, although the spicing can be uneven. Had it three times, the second time somewhat disappointing, but the other times it packed a punch. The Mirch 65 appetizer, chicken with curry leaves and red chilies is really, really good. Chicken Manchurian, meh.

                            2. I think if you find the right cook, they will prepare the food really spicy. Years ago, I went to Pongsri around 20th Street on the East side. I requested I wanted my food extra spicy to the waitress. The chef actually came out and looked at me in the eye and said, "Are you sure?" I replied, "Bring it on!" He asked me again, "You sure you want it super spicy?" My ex-bf who was with me said, "As spicy as you can make it." Well, I totally ate my words as it was the most disgusting spicy thing I've ever had. I didn't think food could be that spicy -- very similar to Brick Lane's phaal curry. I ended up vomiting later on that night because it was so spicy. Ah, the good old days!