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Apr 5, 2008 02:15 PM

Spicy & Tasty: tasty, but not so spicy?

Some friends and I finally made our first trip to Spicy & Tasty in Flushing... We had a great time and thought the food was incredibly tasty but ultimately not so spicy. We were expecting tongue-numbing heat, but that was only the case for one or two dishes (and it still didn't match the spiciness we've enjoyed at times at Sripraphai -- though it's obviously a different cuisine!) I figure it's either because we didn't order enough of the right things or because they assumed we (8 white folks and 2 Indians) couldn't handle true Sichuan heat...
We ordered: enhanced pork, cold tofu and celery, tea-smoked duck, jelly chengdu style, cold sesame noodle, double-cooked pork, homestyle bean curd, dan dan noodles, wontons in hot oil, shredded lamb in fresh hot pepper, tilapia and green hot pepper in black bean sauce, drycooked string beans, eggplant with garlic sauce, and scallion and egg fried rice.
Any advice about what we ought to have ordered in order to experience the legendary burn? We are not afraid of pain.

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  1. If you want the numbing feeling, that's more from the Sichuan peppercorns as opposed to just chili peppers. You should probably ask them which dishes have a lot of the peppercorns. Some dishes I find have more chili peppers than the peppercorns. And not all Sichuan food is spicy (such as tea-smoked duck). You might want to try mabo tofu (I remember it being different from the homestyle bean curd) for that tongue numbing heat. Love that feeling as well -- it's like heroin (not that I've tried heroin). But it is addictive.

    There may also be some discrimination against non-Asians. I wouldn't know as I'm Asian.

    1. Next time for the cold apps, get the cold noodles with red chili sauce, extremely spicy! The sesame noodles are not spicy at all, the green hot pepper and black bean sauce which I get with shrimp instead of the tilapia, is never spicy...did they serve it on a bed of spinach for you? Most of the eggplant dishes are not spicy. Get the spicy turnip sauce with either scallops or shrimp, it's delicious and very spicy. And, no they don't discriminate, there at all.

      1. I also don't find it as spicy as sri (or thai food) but i think that cuisine is in general not as spicy as thai, though some dishes can be very spicy and there is the added numbing effect from the szechuan peppercorns.

        I think many thai dishes also seem spicier because the spice is often paired with sour, which seems to enhance it, somehow.

        However, since i don't expect it to be thai style spicy, i am not disappointed in the spicing level there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: missmasala

          i'm not so sure that's true, if you go to sichuan you'll find the food is very spicy, but in the US i think even the places that are more authentic still take it down a notch

        2. Szechuan is very mild compared to Thai, but IMHO Spicy & Tasty was much less strongly spiced than Chengdu Heaven (my fav) or Little Pepper. It might be because I order in Chinese at both of those (though I don't speak a word of it besides food! Despite that, the women in Little Pepper are CONVINCED I speak it and seem to hold one way convos with me in it.)

          7 Replies
          1. re: JFores

            I'm actually confused by those who say Sichuan is mild compared to Thai as I found the spiciest Sichuan dishes blow dishes like jungle curry out of the water. Are there other Thai dishes that are super spicy that I'm not aware of?

            1. re: Miss Needle

              it may depend on where you are eating your thai food. i've had much much hotter food in thailand (and at sri and zabb) than i have at szechuan places in nyc (including the water cooked dishes). perhaps in china it's a different story.
              To me, the hottest szechuan dishes are more like the kind of heat found in korean dishes. As i stated above, i think it's the sour factor in thai dishes that push them closer to the edge for me. perhaps the acid in the citrus abrades the taste buds and then the spice assaults them.

              as for super spicy thai dishes--try the southern curry at sri (or the green mango sauce ordered veyr spicy) and any of the spicy yums (salad apps) at zabb ordered phed maak maak. I've never found jungle curry to be that spicy.

              1. re: missmasala

                I've had the southern curry at sri but haven't eaten at zabb yet. And I've eaten in Thailand. Yes, I'll agree that the spicy food in Thailand is generally spicier than found here (and tastier -- more sweeter and rounder flavors but not the sickly sweet that you find at most Americanized Thai joints). But I never found these foods as unbearable as the Sichuan places -- perhaps partly influenced by ordering the spicy foods extra spicy, something I don't do anymore for health reasons. I just finished eating Szechuan Gourmet's prawns with asparagus. I found it spicy, but not extremely so because there are no peppercorns in it. People probably have different receptors for spiciness as I think there are different types. For me, it's the numbing peppercorns that push me over the edge. As I grew up with Korean food, I think I'm a bit desensitized to just plain chili pepper spiciness.

                And I'll agree with Lau that Sichuan food is spicier in China. While not the Sichuan province, I ate at an authentic Sichuan restaurant in Hong Kong. The spicy foods were spicier than anything I've had at Spicy and Tasty, Szechuan Gourmet, GS, Wu Liang Ye -- even when I used to order things extra-spicy. I sorely paid for it the next day.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  yeah i mean i like pretty spicy food, but in sichuan the food can be crazy spicy, my friends family was surprised i could eat half the stuff b/c some of them dont eat it for health reasons (i found india like this as well)...some of the private sichuan kitchens in HK are very good

                  you'll get the numbing effect here at places like S&T if you order the right dishes (and convince the staff you want it authentic), but the actual level of spicy is not really available (and i generally think most people here would prefer that...i was literally sweating bullets at some dinners in sichuan)

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I don't actually think of the numbing quality of szechuan peppercorns as spicy. To me, it's a completely different sensation than eating spicy, chili-laced food.
                    However, if that's what you're looking for (or what you deem unbearably spicy), then you would definitely find szechuan food spicier than thai.
                    I really enjoy the numbing peppercorn feeling, but i guess since it's numbing and not burning, i don't think "spicy."

                    1. re: missmasala

                      well when people say "ma la" they're actually talking about the numbing as well as the spicy (they are separate words and things)...what i meant was that u can get that numbing quality in the US, but not the same spiciness

                      1. re: Lau

                        yes, i was actually responding to this part of miss needle's post.

                        "I found it spicy, but not extremely so because there are no peppercorns in it. People probably have different receptors for spiciness as I think there are different types. For me, it's the numbing peppercorns that push me over the edge."

                        I understand what you are saying. I haven't been to china, but i would believe that things are much spicier there.
                        perhaps next time I want szechuan food i will try chengdu heaven, since reports are that the spicing is much more "authentic" there.

            2. This question veers of the topic but since Hungry United mentioned two dishes in the first post, I would like to ask people here to explain the difference between Enhanced Pork and Double-Cooked Pork. I seem to be perpetually confusing the two. Thanks!

              On the subject of spiciness, I have found that it varies a bit here...certainly some of the soft bean curd dishes (Ma Po Tofu for one) are very spicy hot. But in the last few visits I find myself wishing that the dishes intended to be spicy had a bit more heat to them. I suppose the best thing to do is to ask them to turn up the heat..(?)