Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Houston >
May 3, 2009 05:59 AM

HOU Hottest Curry or other dish?

I noted Adam Richman's escapades eating the "phaal challenge" at Brick Lane on "Curry Row" in NYC

(gotta love that the cook has to wear firefighter breathing apparatus when cooking it!)

It got me thinking I can't remember the last time I had a really hot curry. And the answer is I can barely remember when it was, so long ago.

A brief search yielded a chicken phal at Nirvana (Memorial Drive) which is a place I've never been to.

Can anyone confirm Nirvana has the goods, or an alternate place where one can get a complete gastro-intestinal marathon as part of the deal?

I stress this is not a "make this extra spicy please" which never ever works. But a place where if one staggers in this is what they serve as a matter of course. I don't mind if it strays into other cuisines either. Just that it's done well and right and is not contrived to fit any particular customer's demographic. I don't need waiters guesstimating my capacity for hotness (they'll almost certainly be wrong for it is considerable).

Sri Lanka cuisine (reference Sri Lanka Curry House on Hennapin in Minneapolis of old) is getting there. A roti stuffed with meat and red-hot peppers, topped with . . . red hot peppers.

Somehow Richman's flop sweat has made me actively crave the same effect and to eat something genuinely attention-grabbing.

If I get inspired may head to Nirvana today and see if the Phal is much cop. But I can almsot guarantee it's toned down.

Thank for any other info.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've found that in many Thai restaurants when you ask for your dishes, including curries, to be "Thai hot" you get it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jaymes

      Which Thai places? Every time I go to a Thai place they ask:

      1 to 5 stars, I say "7"
      How spicy - I say "Thai Spicy"

      Most places even warn me "no refunds" but still nothing ever matches up to real "Thai spicy." So if you know of a place please let me know.

      1. re: keith304

        Nidda Thai Rest on Westheimer/Waugh.. Order "Thai Hot" and a pitcher of cold drink.... Guaranteed 5 alarm stuff plus what may be the best Thai Rest in the city! Jack

        1. re: keith304

          I'm not fond of extreme spice, but I've observed customers who have asked V to turn up the heat end up quite overwhelmed and satisfied. So give V's a shot:

          1. re: keith304

            I would say that Vieng Thai on Long point also puts a good portion of spice into their green papaya salad and I had a nose clearing pork with petai/sator beans. I would say that given the owner and back of house Vieng Thai would be able to cook up some great authentic stuff other than the sator beans. I would ask if they could make something up off menu that they could spice up to a native Thai level or beyond.

        2. I checked out Nirvana yesterday with a take-out order.

          I liked the interior and the service but the phal was only semi-attention-grabbing at best (not helped because it came heavy on chicken pieces and with not a huge amount of sauce in its container).

          Again it seems to be the case that real hot curry "as a matter of course" isn't to be had. I asked the waiter and he reckoned the phal came hot even without special addendum to the order (which is how I decided to opt for it) but by all means could be made "even hotter" upon special request.

          Also I have to say the prices for the entrees like the phal (and most of them) edging near or at $20 I find to be really getting a bit exorbitant for Indian food, no matter how spicy or well done. Especially as an indian meal is best made up of about three dishes minimum for two people. Meat, dal and vegetable.

          The buffet here looked nice and is $13-14 but obviously the phal was not part of that deal.

          I like the BYOB aspect but savings on booze seem to likely be offset by the pricey price point. But the food was nice. No wories there. Just not hot in the sense of which I was seeking.

          So really no flop sweat nirvana.

          1. Why don't you just carry around a bottle of Mad Dog?

            Seems easier.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jaymes

              Have you tasted Mad Dog 357? Not only is it far hotter than natural peppers, like most extract sauces it's horribly bitter.

            2. You may want to try this dish - try ordering the lamb vindaloo "seriously gunpowder-hot" at the Khyber Grill, 2510 Richmond Ave. That's exactly what I told them when I ordered this dish for take-away almost weekly back when the weather was cold (dec-feb). I was never disappointed at the heat level. They took my request seriously. I have a fairly high heat tolerence too. I was also glad I did not have to eat it in public since my nose ran and my lips burned halfway into each meal. It was so good and worth the "pain". I never really order anything else from Khyber Grill since I usually find myself at Himalaya when I crave North Indian food that packs some heat.