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Jul 8, 2008 02:34 PM

A Challenge...Where is the hottest and spiciest food in NYC?

Bring it on... looking for the hottest and spiciest dishes and restaurants in all NYC... Manhattan, the Burroughs... will travel to find well prepared super hot and spicy dishes
Any cuisine! Any ingredient. Street stand, restaurant, farmers market... Have a Pepperhead meetup group and we want to be challenged!

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  1. Brick Lane's phaal curry. I haven't found anything spicier. But I see you guys have already been there.

    Not in Manhattan but in Queens ... you may want to go to Srirpraphai and order everything extra-spicy. Spicier dishes are papaya salad, jungle curry, drunken noodles. You may also want to check out Tangra Masala in Elmhurst where most of the menu has a chili pepper next to it. There are also a few good Sichuan restaurants in Flushing. Check the Outer Boroughs Board for recs. There's been some good reviews on Rhong Tiam in the Village. These suggestions are in no way close to the heat of the phaal curry at Brick Lane though. But it's a lot less painful.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Miss Needle

      I think the Southern Curry is spicier than anything else at Sri. But I don't think Sri is the spiciest in town.
      Sirenanathalie, you can try to go to Grand Sichuan and get the chong qing chicken. The one on 2nd ave @ 55th (it has changed ownership since I've last been there) serve it swimming in chili peppers and you have to find the chicken pieces by digging into the chili peppers mound with your chop sticks. You're not supposed to eat all those chilies but if you want a challenge, there you go.

      1. re: ow77

        No, Sri is definitely not the spiciest around. I was there last weekend and had the papaya salad, soft shell crabs with peppers and basil and the green curry. Pretty mild-medium spicy in my book. That's why you have to specifically tell them to make it extra spicy. And they will oblige (at least for me, they have). As I got older, I stopped doing that as the extra spicy food isn't really good for me and DH is not the spice freak like I am.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          As with any good Thai resto, just asking for them to make something spicier is not really going to change anything other than the small amount of chiles they throw in the dish. If you want to increase the heat then you have to ad even more chiles yourself. Next time you go to Srirpraphai take a look at the other tables, especially those full of non-caucasians, and you’ll notice a small assortment of condiments. At Sri they come in small plastic containers held in a clear plastic tub. These include dry chili flakes, chili paste (some may know it as Siracha), pickled chiles and Nam Pla Prik, which is tiny chiles in fish sauce. By adding these condiments the customer is allowed to alter the sourness, saltiness and heat of their dish. Almost all Thai places in NYC, including Sri, will not automatically give you these unless you ask for them. In Thailand, on the other hand, they are on every table like salt & pepper is over here.

          Thai food is a complex arrangement of many different taste vectors - spiciness is only one of them. Asking a good Thai chef to “make it spicy” is like asking a French chef to “make it buttery.”

          1. re: GnocchiBoy

            I'm familiar with the condiment tray, but I prefer my chili peppers cooked with my food as opposed to having it sprinkled on top. But I've been known to be a masochist in the past and have requested the food extra spicy and then put more spice on my dishes.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              just remember the phrase "pet mah"

              also in thailand the idea is to add chilis at the table that round out the chili experience - so if a dish has front of the mouth heat, you add something that heats the back etc

            2. re: GnocchiBoy

              I don;t know if it is fair to say the condiments are like salt in Thailand. The condiments are meant for specific dishes and would be out at the appropriate restaurants/stands or brought to you for those specific dishes such as I find they do at Sri.

              For the true self-inflicting masochists out there - order the sour sausage at Zabb (not sure if they have it at Sri) or if you are brave, Gnaaam sausage (raw pork) from the case at Sri or your favorite asian market. Both are consumed with bites of uncooked peppers to the level you can stand it.

          1. re: kathryn

            I remember seeing that report! That girl is absolutely insane! But I've got to give her props. The best I was able to do was the order a side dish of the sauce and eat it with tons of rice over the course of a week. Honestly, I don't even know why I did it as I didn't really enjoy it. Both openings were pretty sore and my stomach burned all week. Well, I kind of got hooked on the pain in some bizarre way and it was addictive. But those days are behind me now.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              I'm really afraid.

              I can handle Sichuan spicy as it's often numbing/tingling, rather than burning. The spiciest things I've eaten in Manhattan were Sichuan food: the mapo tofu at Szechuan Gourmet or the cumin beef at Grand Sichuan International. For both of those, they have great flavors in addition to being spicy. Luckily, no stomach distress there for me for either of these delicious foods (fingers crossed for the future).

              I'm not sure how those compare to the phaal curry, which seems really insanely spicy.

              1. re: kathryn

                Kathryn, if you could do the mabo at Szechuan Gourmet, your spicy tolerance isn't too bad. I don't think cumin beef is really, really spicy but the mabo is up there. But the phaal is really in a league of its own. As thew mentioned, it's more one-dimensional heat. Its not really fun. I've had it twice, as if once wasn't enough.

            2. re: kathryn

              Well I had it tonight and finished it. Pretty damn hot, and I actually enjoyed it at times. I think the one time when I begged the Chao Thai people to just ruin my life that that was hotter, but this was up there.

            3. re: Miss Needle

              I didn't find tangra masala so spicy. trying to think about some more spicy dishes . . .

              1. re: bigjeff

                I looked at the past restaurants this group went to, and I didn't find most of them very spicy. So I don't think they're necessarily looking for phaal type of stuff, but just looking for places where they can find spicy food in general. You're right about Tangra Masala being not terribly spicy (unless you have the bad habit that I used to asking them to amp up the spice). But a large proportion of their dishes are spicy (as compared to non-spicy).

                Oh, all this talk about spicy food. I'm generally good about accepting the fact that I'm getting older, but I do wish I can tolerate spiciness like I did when I was younger.

            4. phall at brink lane perhaps - but it is an unsatisfying, unflavorful, one dimensional heat that only hits the back of your throat.

              spicy, but disappointing, to me.

              1. I doubt this is the spiciest in the city, but several weeks ago I had a green papaya salad at Jaiya Thai which I ordered at the spiciest level, and it was painfully spicy (and I have a pretty decent spice tolerance).

                The Vegetarian New Yorker:

                1. I don't know if it's the spiciest, but the uttapam at Saravanaas in Curry Hill is a lentil pancake with onions and chilis and it's pretty darn spicy (and delicious). I'd say it's at least in the running.

                  1. Go to Chao Thai and order a curry dish and tell them to pretend you are Thai and make you cry. I LOVE spicy food and couldn't finish it when I did that. Nusara is also pretty much as spicy with the curry, but Chao Thai beat them by a bit when I made that specific request. (I do like Nusara better though). Both are in Queens by the way, and both are much spicier than Sriph.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Taylor.Watson

                      Agreed on Chao Thai. The one time I ordered something "Thai spicy" there, I thought I might wind up in the hospital. It actually hurt.

                      For another type of heat, try anything peppercorn-based at either Little Pepper or Chengdu Tien Fu in Flushing. The Ma Po Tofu I had at LP numbed my pallette to the point where it was pretty much hard to taste the rest of our entrees.

                      Enjoy your quest.