Wanting it Hot Hot Hot in London
Trying to arrange a stag weekend in London and the groom-to-be is a spice freak. I am after the hottest dishes in the Capital.
What are the best places to go for good quality but ultra-spicy dishes .... I'm kinda thinking along the lines of some of the spicy challenges on Man V Food.
Any suggestions welcome.
Don't know about the Indian, but for Sichuan I'd recommend (in descending likelihood of being served something absurdly spicy): No. 10 (Earls Court), Chili Cool, Bar Shu, Empress of Sichuan, everything else. Even so, all of them are hit and miss in terms of chilli heat and you need to catch them on a good day and/or make sure they don't purposely tone the food down.
There's also a place in Lewisham called Le Wei Xiang that is supposed to be very authentic, but I've never been - does any anyone else have more information on it?
So, I went to Le Wei Xiang this evening to check it out. Don't say I'm not obliging!
And...I had a decent couple of dishes. Cold shredded potato with chille. Twice cooked pork (a kind of 'benchmarking' dish. And deep fried tofu with black fungus.
I reckon the standard of cooking was about what I'd call "average chinatown". A step or two above the common or garden takeaway but not approaching the standards of, say, Bar Shan. For instance, compared to the Bar Shan version, the potato slivers were coarser (and mixed with some pointless extra veg) and the whole lacked a dusting of peper and a lightness of touch. But what I give Le Wei Xiang maximum points for was the 'take no prisoners' authenticity of the menu. In a road where I'd have no right to expect anything other than your bog-standard take-away, this menu is full of sea snails and clay pots and braises and squidgy-piggy bits.
So, I couldn't, in all honesty, say it is "worth a detour", but I can, in all honesty, say that I'll be back to try out more of the nooks and crannies of the menu. And, if you're in the area, so should you.
Ha, the pigs blood soup is what got me interested in the first place. Nice to know that the rest of the menu is so uncompromising.
Thanks for such a prompt response! Would you say the menu is predominantly Sichuan or is it Dongbei/Hunan (you compared it to Bar Shan - do you mean pre-Hunanised Bar Shan?)? Or maybe unclassifiable? If their main dishes aren't anything exceptional then I probably wont go out of my way, unless you find something really special in the dark recesses of the offal section on a revisit. Until then I'll keep it as a 'maybe'.
So when I came out of the Royal Albert Hall last night, after a wonderful performance by Squeeze and The Feeling, I decided to make my decision based on which bus came first: if the number 10 or 52 bus came first, I'd take it to the Knightsbridge tube stop (sure I could have just walked, but I had just flown in from NY overnight and had run 7 miles on arrival, so I was allowing myself to be lazy!) and head to Earl's Court and No. 10, but if the number 9 bus came first, I'd take it to Picadilly Circus and eat at Spice Bazaar, a so-so Indian place on Rupert Street, but whose vindaloo I know from experience makes me sweat. (I'm staying near Hyde Park Corner, so either destination seemed convenient for getting back to my hotel.)
The 9 bus came right away, so I ended up at Spice Bazaar, and its vindaloo did not disappoint. This certainly is not the best Indian in London, but it certainly gets the job done for those looking for some heat!
Tonight I'm going out with a client, but I'm thinking tomorrow night (after the Roger Daltrey show), I'll do sichuan.
For spicy Szechuan I'd definitely go to Bar Shu, which also happens to have quite a pleasant ambiance. It's an obligatory restaurant for us to eat at whenever we're in London. Coming from the Royal Albert Hall you could take the 9 to Piccadilly Circus and then Bar Shu's just a short walk up Shaftesbury Avenue. The man-and-wife offal, cloud ear fungus and pock-marked old woman's tofu are all spicy favourites of ours. The dry-fried green beans and muxu pork are good non-spicy additions to a meal there.
Andy your best bet if you're just looking for spice is probably to head to brick lane. I'm pretty sure most of the chefs along there could come up with a ridiculously hot phaal for you. Might be good to do some research ahead of time and get in touch with the restaurant and brief them. Or get one where you can have a private room for your challenge.
PS love the Man vs Food reference, what a programme that is.
I don't know about restuarants for this request. But I do know Poncho no.8 (for my money by far the best burritos in London I've tried) sell some stupid chilli chemical concentrate type sauce in bottles. We're talking millions of scovilles. I'm sure they'd happily put some in your burrito if you ask nicely. It's a takeaway joint though, so don't know if that is sufficient.
Easily the spiciest meal I have had anywhere is here
The food was delicious too although the setting isn't particularly special. It was for a friend's birthday and they looked after our large, rowdy table well.
The dishes with a 3-chilli rating are hotter than anything I've had in W China, though I had some Tom Yum soup in Thailand and Laab in Laos that rivalled it!
but this request scares me a bit.
Recommending one of my favourite restaurants to a pack of lads on a stag night , hmmm , you might be perfectly well behaved , bucking the trend, perfectly police and decent men, but I am not taking a chance.
And if its just hot you want go to any of the burritos place they have just opened in london - which also serve pitchers and extra hot bottled sauce that you can spash on .
i think they are called burritos you can google it - it should do the job you're after as they crossover to a bar atmosphere the later it gets .
Have fun and stay clothed.
Thai 101 (Stamford Brook) has nice spicy Isaan/Thai dishes...
i also like Emperess of Sichuan in Chinatown...
and, my fav Indian so far (in admittedly limited exploration) in London is Durbar, in Notting Hill
All three can provide nice settings/service, extremely spicy dishes for the groom, and a variety of dishes for the rest of the party
I do get a kick out of man v food on the Food Network in the States and I think on Good Food here in the UK. That said, I'm pretty sure you will struggle to find any restaurant or cafe or what ever in London that would promote extreme food/spice contests/dishes.
In my 7/8 years away from the US you just realize that most of the RoW is not as sales/marketing focused on every minutiae of life - including wacky marketing gimmicks like your meal is free if you can eat 20 of our hottest Buffalo wings.
That being said you could probably go to some disrespectful Indian resto on brick lane and ask them to make the vindaloo impossibly hot.
Otherwise if you're just after things spicier then your average westerner eats any of the good Szechuan places in London would do as the the previous poster mentioned as would sticking to the hotter options at any decent indian.
P.S. On a related extreme food side note I had an awesome belly buster egg sandwich at Billy Bunters Snack Bar in Stepney Green this morning on Mile End road; sausage, bacon, burger, egg, onions, mushrooms, cheese , etc... on a "french stick". Memories of egg sandwiches from my decades in NY came flooding back in a good way
Szechuan recommendations are good. One I might add is Raavi Kebab on Drummond Street, where if you ask for spicy they will take you seriously.
The only drawback is that the place offers neither wine nor beer. But the pub at the corner has Sierra Nevada on draught, so you could make this into a question of timing.