The Spiciest Food Marathon
We consulted Jonathan Gold, we prepared the Burn-Be-Gone-Box (you'll see what that means shortly) and we conquered Los Angeles' spiciest restaurants. It was a stunning day with one of the most well-planned, well-navigated, well-executed marathons to date. The food was fantastic, the pain was intense and the show began at:
11:30am. Orochon Ramen literally has a spice wall of fame (wall of pain?) honoring the capsicum cowboys that blazed trails before us. What better place to start.As we had a long way to go we decided to split the famous Special 2 with cha-shu pork. Upon its arrival we realized why there's a wall of fame- not really for the spice, but for the quantity. It was a bathtub of sweet, scalding, heat-saturated broth packed to the rim with firm noodles, chopped peppers, tender pork and vegetables. The volume itself could end a beautiful Saturday morning, then throw in the temperature (very hot) and spice (not that hot) and I envision a severe food coma for the wall-of-fame-worthy.
To be honest, we were surprised that the spice wasn't more intense (for the reputation it has). It was the perfect level, causing slight pain but 100% manageable.
We each ate a healthy portion which was equal to about 1/15th of the total bowl. The first to-go container of the day was almost overflowing with food which meant great leftovers for the week to come.
Orochon FM Spice Rating: 7.5
Next up was Chichen Itza, a restaurant notorious for their habanero salsa. We actually just wanted chips and salsa but we made a game time decision. Not only were we allowed to sample the sauce we were also given fresh from the oven bread, just for being there.... We bought one bottle of their milder bottled habanero version and also bought their freshly made and bottled nuclear salsa. We walked down the street and just outside the Mexican Consulate we found El Serranito, a typical LA taco truck. We ordered one carne asada taco and one al pastor. We walked across the street to MacArthur park to enjoy the sunshine and spice. As is always the case, the tacos were fantastic. Rich with flavor on light tortillas, they would become the perfect home for our newly purchased bottle of pain.
The hanabero flavor is very pronounced in Chichen Itza's salsa. It's tangy and sharp, formidably spicy and complimentary to anything it coats. Not as painful as I remembered but serious nonetheless.
Chichen Itza FM Spice Rating: 7
So in preparation for the marathon we put together the Burn-Be-Gone-Box (BBGB). The items enclosed were water, toilet paper, wet naps, cups and baking soda. Baking soda is a natural base that fights the acid found in most spicy foods. It can quell the internal burn, acting like a powder blanket on top of hot sauce. The BBGB first made an appearance at this stage of the marathon. Relief.
Next up was Kyochon. Although Crazy Hook was recommended their hours didn't work for this marathon. They'll definitely be part of the wing marathon.
After Hite Kwang-Jang I was really excited about Kyochon. (Korean chicken wings are new to me, so excuse my fervor.) We ordered 4 spicy wings, keeping portions small for marathon-sake. It took a while to get the wings, probably because of all the takeout business they were doing.They weren't spicy at all- sweet in fact. Definitely tasty, but providing a respite from the pain in what was soon to become a spice cacophony.Kyochon FM Spice Rating: 3
1:45pm. Northbound to Jitlada which I've written about many times.
In the past we've urged Jazz to kick the spice up to toxic levels so we could learn our limits. We reached our limit a few times. We haven't since returned to that level by choice... until now. The beauty of Jitlada is their Southern Thai dishes are so inherently spicy to begin with, that with a little goading you get to an incomprehensible spice stratosphere. One such dish is the phat luuk taw “Meuang Khon” (stir-fried sator beans with shrimp, pork, and squid). It's like Sloppy Joe's psychopathic cousin. We told the waitress to make it as spicy as possible and the results were numbingly brilliant.Nothing on the food marathon compared in spice or flavor, as Jitlada delivered the one-two knock out punch. The only way to battle the pain is to continue eating. Thai iced tea doesn't help, rice doesn't help, water definitely doesn't help. We hurried to pay to get to the only remedy from the BBGB- baking soda. A couple gulps later and we were on our way to Wing Stop.
Jitlada FM Spice Rating: 10+++
Although it's a chain we included Wing Stop because of it's location on the marathon path and their Atomic buffalo wings. We ordered and a hellish prophecy stared us down. $6.66. What were we in for?
After a tongue-singeing day our taste buds were affected so there was a discrepancy in our Wing Stop rating. I had 2 boneless atomic wings and Peter only had 1. The flavor wasn't good, as all thought was put into the tongue torching qualities of the sauce. And torch it did- the pain built and built. I was hurting in the car 10 minutes after finishing the wings. Peter wasn't. He thought they were weak. Agree to disagree. We'll have to wait for the chicken wing marathon to decide.
Wing Stop FM Spice Rating 5 or 8 depending on who you ask.
3:30pm. For our last stop we made our way to Ice Pan for the only soothing meal of the day. Ice Pan is a high-concept ice cream parlor- the equivalent of what you'd find in Back to the Future 2.The idea is that each batch of ice cream is made before your eyes as you order it. I chose their special pumpkin flavor thinking a nice pumpkin pie ice cream would cap the gluttonous day. Unfortunately they didn't have graham cracker topping and instead put mango and pineapple.It's a cool concept but ultimately what you're eating isn't as good as ice cream from a regular ice cream shop. So the idea is it's fun to watch ice cream but more natural and healthy. The problem is if I want ice cream, I want unhealthy, unsaturatedly fatty ice cream.
Ice Pan FM Spice Rating: -9
I won't go into the details of the next 48 hours. I didn't eat anything else that night, just drank scotch to kill any bacteria that was left. Peter had Indian food for dinner. I had Jitlada for dinner the next day, but ordered it mild (don't tell anyone). I'm not at 100% yet but I will be eating the leftovers this week.