It’s time to heat things up, are you up for the challenge?
I’m talking about spicy foods, the kind that makes your nose run, eyes tear up and tongue go into a state of “mala” (numbingly, spicy).
L.A. holds one of the mosts diverse food cultures and in within it exist some of the most mind blowing spicy creations you could ever find. From acclaimed Sichuan style cooking to Nashville style hot chicken, ghost chili driven Southern Indian cuisine and even a ramen broth straight from the gates of hell. We guarantee you’ll be reaching for that water after one taste.
Consider this as a sort of spicy bucket list for Angelenos who want to push their tastebuds to the limit. Good luck taking this fiery journey and make sure to hand your emergency contact info to your server, before consuming the items mentioned.
List starts after the jump, in no particular order.
Guisados has a chiles torreados on the menu that will burn your lips off. Packed with Serrano peppers, onions and roasted habaneros, this nuclear little taco packs so much heat even the thick, freshly made corn tortilla won’t help you. Ordering a horchata to help you recover is not a bad idea, if you’re bold enough to take on this taco.
2. Bhanu’s Indian Grocery & Cuisine
The Southern Indian restaurant located in the city of San Gabriel is owned by a brother and sister duo from Mumbai. Serving some of the best Indian food in the SVG (I go once a month!) they also offer the intimidating ghost chili, considered as one of the worlds hottest peppers. If you dare to try this illusive chili, request it in various dishes and adjust the level to your liking but approach with caution.
3. Orochon Ramen
Seen on Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food” with Adam Richman, Orochon Ramen’s “Wall of Bravery” is INSANITY. Challenge goes like this, order the Special #2 ramen and slurp it down in 30 minutes or less. The #2 special is a chili-spiked jalapeno inferno many have attempted but few have conquered, it’s a spice sensation you will feel all the way down your throat. If you do manage to complete this challenge, you get your Polaroid on the “Wall of Bravery.” So… I guess it’s worth after all?
4. Ye Rustic Inn
One bite of the suicide wings over at Ye Rustic Inn will quickly have you sweating. It’s a heat explosion packed inside a chicken wing with a vinegary, lava red sauce that will linger, from your mouth to your fingers. If the spice is too much, just order a quick round and drink the pain away.
5. Chengdu Taste
The term mala, literally means “numbing and spicy”, a perfect description for the dishes at SVG’s Chengdu Taste. Locals and tourist alike, all flock to this Sichuan restaurant for a world class, nose running, tongue numbing dining experience. Order the signature dish of lamb cubes, skewered onto toothpicks, tossed with a spicy blend of chilies, sesame and cumin. The mala inducing boiled fish is also a must try made of silky fish filets, immersed in a broth made up of fresh chopped green chilies and whole Sichuan peppercorns, it’s a dish that will clear your sinuses for good.
Side note: I was not able to stop eating, long after my tongue had called it quits, friends had to talk me down. This place has an addictive level of 100.
Night + Market is the kind of place where you order delicious spicy food and scarf it down happily, while tears run down your face. The burning sensation is additive here at this popular West Hollywood eatery. Order the Nam Kao Tod aka crispy rice salad it’s super spicy and a fan favorite.
7. Hunan Chili King
Located in the SVG, Hunan Chilli King specialize in spicy dishes from the Hunan province. Once you see the piles of chili peppers being laid outside to dry, you’ll know this place is the real deal. Try the spicy sole- white fish filets, stir-fried with preserved greens and topped with a heaping of rainbow chilies or the smoked duck stir fried with Hunan pickled green beans and, you guessed it, tons of chilies. Both will leave you numb in the tongue aka mala.
8. Howlin Ray’s Hot Chicken
These guys sling some of the hottest Nashville style chicken in town. They don’t joke around when it comes to the spices and hot factor, offering country fried (for the weak!), mild, medium, hot, xhot and howlin’ hot. With an option to go white or dark meat, each chicken is breaded with the spice of your choice, fried until the skin is crispy and served on top of a piece of white bread and pickles. The “hot” was no joke, cue the runny nose after two bites, even the mild will be sufficiently spicy for the hot-averse eaters out there.
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9. Bull Demon King Cafe
The Taiwanese beef noodle soup spot is known for their spicy beef noodle soup challenge. If you finish the spicy beef noodles in 30 minutes or less you’ll get your noodles for free, a t-shirt, and your picture immortalized on the wall. Taiwanese beef noodle consist of beef shanks, pepper flakes and noodles immersed in a flavorful broth that’s been simmering for over 12 hours to achieve its strong spicy flavor.
Jitlada, one of L.A.’s most celebrated Thai restaurants, is famous for its tear jerking dare called the dynamite challenge. Choose your method of torture with two sauce options- a molten curry or mint leaf sauce, then select from a multitude of protein options like tofu, chicken to soft shell crab and frog legs. The challenge is so absurdly spicy it will leave you light-headed with heartburn for days. With a warning on the menu that reads, “If you do not eat spicy food do not order this. This is “REAL CHILI REAL SPICY” according to the actual menu. You’ve been warned.
Where do you love to eat spicy in Los Angeles? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!