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Jul 31, 2012 10:28 AM

In Search of Spice

Dear Chownation:

You've been so helpful in the past so I'm challenging you with another query. My friends and I are hoping to get us some really spicy eats this weekend and wanted some suggestions. While we enjoy wings and Mexican, we're looking for something slightly more exotic or just off-the-beaten-path. We discussed Ethiopian, Jamaican, Thai and Sichuan hot pot.

But I wondered if there wasn't some other options that we were overlooking?

Assistance is always greatly appreciated.

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  1. For Thai, Little Serow in Dupont - They don't take reservations or substitutions, but the food will tickle you!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tommyskitchen

      Thus far, Little Serow has been the most popular rec. Thanks.

      1. re: henmonster

        Little Serow is pretty tame in the spice department. It's also pricey at $90 for two. Ask for the Lao menu at Bangkok Golden in Falls Church. For heat, I recommend the nam kao (rice ball salad) and the liver and pork skin larb (on their Thai-language menu) or the som pa (fermented fish) which is not on any menu, you just have to ask.

      1. re: mdpilam

        Not sure what that was about... DC has some great Ethiopian places. I'd suggest Ettete in the U Street corridor. I'd also suggest reservations. Not exactly "spicy" but their Kibba (raw beef with warm spiced butter) is excellent. For Szechuan hot pot, I'd recommend Great Wall near Logan Circle. It's a small place but they are not shy about their use of Szechaun peppercorn. I also second Little Serow, which has outstanding Thai food, but if you can make it up to Wheaton, I'd strongly recommend Ruan or Nava.

        1. re: The Big Crunch

          Sorry I was succinct, but OP was requesting "really spicy", of which I have found to be almost non-existent in DC. Obviously, I haven't eaten everything, but I've made similar requests on CH in the past and tried suggestions, and have been disappointed continuously. Bombay Club used to have a green chili chicken dish which was spicy, but they took it off the menu. I recently had some pretty spicy ghost wings at The Pinch in Columbia Heights, but on a subsequent trip it was much milder (not to mention OP said something other than wings or Mexican).

          I am an admittedly not a fan of Ethiopian, but I have never had anything "really spicy" at any Ethiopian restaurant. And, if I am not mistaken, Great Wall does not do hot pot. And I may be the minority, but I do not find Szechuan spicy, the peppercorns are just "numbing". Haven't been to Little Serow, but Ruan Thai has not been spicy even when requested "Thai spicy". I have heard that Nava has some soup that is supposedly spicy, but can't confirm.

          Good luck, and if you do find something really spicy, please report back.

          1. re: mdpilam

            Spicy doesn't always mean "hot" to everybody. Spicy can mean "spicy" If you want hot - do what my Latino friends do and drag along your own fresh chiles and add them to what you are eating. . . or just take a bite to get the mindnumbing heat then wade into the meal.

            Frankly, if I want habanero or ghost pepper hot - I don't bother going out to eat . . . why spend money on food thats flavor is going to be masked by the fire in my head..

            1. re: mdpilam

              I have seen people get hot pot at Great Wall, but perhaps you need to order in advance as it was not on the menu last time I was there.

              I much prefer, though, the mala wontons or the mapo tofu, there is also a nice fish with sour mustard greens, double cooked pork, and do not miss the baby bok choy.

            2. re: The Big Crunch

              Etete is great, but I think Zenebech Injera's food is just as good, and a little hotter.

          2. How about spicy Korean tofu soup? Lighthouse Tofu in Annandale, VA offers their dishes in varying levels of spice which ranges from mild, spicy, or spicy spicy. As a side dish, you can order baby octopus and noodle stir fry which is spicy and might meet your exotic requirement.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shake N baik

              Soon dubu at Lighthouse (aka Vit Goel). This is one of the best meals in the DC area. I prefer the pork and seafood variation, but you can get it with the protien of your choice or vegetarian for that matter.

            2. Sumah's on 7th could be an interesting change. Or you could follow on the heels of the guys from Heat Seekers:

              2 Replies
              1. re: katecm

                I've been to the three places that Heat Seekers went (Cava, Tandoori Nights and DC-3), and two of them didn't have the spicy items on their menu. Tandoori Nights quit making the spicy item (chicken achar I believe) and DC-3 didn't have their Three Alarm Cruncher on the menu. Cava had their "crazy green harissa", but it was an incredibly tiny portion and not that spicy. It was good though, and in general I liked the restaurant more or less.

                1. re: mdpilam

                  What a bummer. You'd think they'd want to take advantage of the publicity (not that I have actually SEEN the episode, but still...).

              2. I'm not sure if you are in DC or out in the 'burbs. If it's the latter, I'd go for a new place that serves cuisine from Tamil Nadu, India, called Karaikudi (in Chantilly). Fish curries there are SPICY -- and delicious.