...the only type of marathon I will ever run.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

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.


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At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Foodeater said...

While the high levels of spiciness you guys tolerated is definitely impressive, what blows me away more is simply the sheer amount of food you guys managed to eat in one day. Quite a marathon indeed! Good work! :)

At 1:02 PM, Blogger mattatouille said...

great post! you guy are pretty awesome for doing this. I hope the pain didnt' last for too long.

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Food GPS said...

That was fun to see you follow through on your Ask Mr. Gold question. Food Marathon is clearly one of the best food blog concepts in L.A.. I especially like your photos of the Wing Stop cash register and Jitlada receipt. That's funny that you only went to Chicken Itza for their salsa.

At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For out of control heat, if that is what you like, try Hogan's Hero's in Weschester. They make a chili, you have to order the spiciest version, that you can not eat more that a teaspoon of, if that much. I like flavor with my heat, but for out of control heat, this is it, have the vanilla ice cream standing by.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Food Marathon said...

Thank you all. Per anonymous' suggestion of Hogan's Hero's and Jonathan Gold's addition of Chili My Soul, I think I'm gonna wait for a really cold day in winter and do the Chilly Chili Food Marathon. Who's in?

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous diglounge said...

Nice spicy food marathon.

I love Chichen Itza! So nice there. Speaking of, I'm going on a tamale marathon tomorrow at MacArthur park. Might have to stop in for dessert.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

Duuude! Can't believe you guys ate that much food in one day. That's just insane.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger H. C. said...

I also about to throw in a suggestion for Chili My Soul too (though I've never been able to go past a 8 there)! and Chilly Chili Marathon does sound good! ;)

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on Orochon's wall of fame, it tasted like eating one of those instant kimchi bowls of noodles but with 20 packets of sauce. Instead of wings at Crazy Hook, you need to try the fire chicken, that is pretty spicy.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

You guys are insane. Was it hurting days after? You can actually kill your tastebuds with too much capsicum. That said, I'm in awe at your survival. That's one marathon, I'd do only as self-punishment.

At 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bonchon wings are spicier than kyochon wings. the kyochon garlic wings are the only ones you should get...the others are a waste of time

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Ashleigh Denny said...

My friend and I really admire your work done on this marathon. We are amateur spicy connoisseurs and decided yesterday to embark on a mini-spicy marathon. Went to Chichen Izta and tried both of their hot sauces. The red (jabanero) one was definitely spicier and tasted better than the green one. The guy at the counter told us the green one was five times as spicy, but I didn't think so. Afterward, we went to Jitlada and were planning on ordering the same thing as you guys, but then my friend's iPhone wasn't getting service, so we didn't know what to get. But then, we noticed at the very bottom of the last page of the menu, there was a dish called "chef's spicy challange". We ordered it to go and split it between us. Now, I am pretty good at handling spicy things... but this dish was THE spiciest thing I've ever eaten! It was so intense, I couldn't even finish my half, but it tasted SO GOOD. This was my first defeat by spicy food, but it was so worth it. Unfortunately, since we were crunched for time, we couldn't go to any of the other stops, but thank you for the suggestions. We loved them! :)


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