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Restaurants don't know what spicy is...
23066 cr points
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Posted 2/21/15
I don't eat out much. Maybe a few times a month. If I decide I want mapo tofu, pad thai, Japanese curry, Indian curry, yakisoba, or various other dishes and don't want to make it myself, I usually prefer the dish to have a kick. But lately I have been disappointed with a few of the restaurants in my area. I assumed the food would be mediocre at best (and I was right), but I didn't expect to be let down like this. Honestly, the meat was cooked well and the flavoring was decent, if not acceptable. But the first time around I asked for a five star dish in a restaurant that specified four stars as the limit. That pathetic dish would have qualified as a one star dish at my grandad's Chinese restaurant. When I asked for a 30 star dish the second time around, the server looked at me like I was nuts. Well, I got a two star dish that I didn't bother to finish. It was oily, flavorless, and tasted like it had a few drops of tabasco in it.

My grandad used to run an authentic Chinese restaurant. He didn't cater to American tastebuds (and barely spoke any english), and if you didn't like it, you were welcome to eat at the crappy Chinese/American disaster right down the street. His five star dish was actually hot and packed one hell of a punch. If you didn't want a kick, you ordered a 0-1. If you wanted some heat, your ordered a 3. If you wanted to cry and sweat while you enjoyed flavorful spicy bliss you asked for a 5-6. For the sake of comparison, Sriracha would have been about a 2.5 on his scale. Tabasco (minus the horrible flavor), would have been about a 1.5.

I tried the hottest sauce at Famous Dave's when I visited the restaurant for the first time a couple months ago. As expected, it was about as hot as mild Pace salsa.

I tried a salsa with some fancy name last night at Taco Del Mar. It was supposed to be their new super spicy salsa. It tasted like a sweet Sriracha, and Sriracha isn't hot.

We did have a BBQ joint that offered a ghost pepper sauce that was absolutely delicious and very, very hot. But, the business was short lived. It's a real shame because if was probably the best BBQ on this side of the state.

So what is your experience with restaurants that offer spicy foods? Do you find yourself ordering 30 star dishes hoping to receive something that is hotter than Sriracha? Are "hot" foods actually hot? Or do the dishes taste like a malnourished jalepeno after a bowl of ice cream?
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13 / F / California
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Posted 2/21/15
It depends on where you are when you order them. Some states know how to bring the heat, other states, they don't. As I've gotten older, I don't like spicy anymore, so yeah.
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32 / M / Minnesota, USA
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Posted 2/21/15
Go to an authentic Mexican restaurant [aka in Mexico] and you'll get plenty spicy. Same for an Indian or Thai restaurant if you order the right things. Go to anything "Americanized" and yeah you won't find anything spicy.
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28 / M
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Posted 2/22/15 , edited 2/22/15
I rarely find any restaurants that serve something TRULY spicy when I ask for spicy.

Some Korean restaurants get it right when I order extra spicy soon tofu, though. It kinda makes food taste better when you are mildly fighting your tastebuds with each bite.

I have a friend who is Lao and he makes such ridiculously spicy food with Thai chilis. His Thai papaya salad is spicier than anything I've gotten at any Thai restaurants, and I've had some that were so spicy I couldn't even speak. I don't know why I keep eating this salad when it hurts so much, but it's quite tasty.

The fairly recent Fire Noodle challenge made me chuckle. I make spicier Japanese curry than those Fire Noodles. I add habanero to my curry sometimes. Fire Noodles are spicy for an instant noodle but I still don't consider them all THAT spicy.

You won't find anything spicy in 95% of American restaurants. Spicy tuna? Spicy wings? Spicy chicken? What a joke. I tried to teach people to properly eat sashimi and they tell me the wasabi constituted from powder is spicy. Restaurant wasabi tends to be pretty weak and barely tickles my nose. It's a necessity to have a little good wasabi with good sashimi. Fresh grated wasabi root is like 10x stronger than the powder sold in the cans that they get at restaurants.

My favorite foods are Japanese and Taiwanese, and there's honestly aren't that many spicy foods in those cuisines, if you don't count the numbing spicy Taiwanese hot pots. I like Korean spicy and Thai spicy.

Some Chinese restaurants offer a really tasty and perfectly spicy dish. Not spicy enough to scare me away, a fragrant and pleasant spice, lots of flavor. It's a Sichuan dish consisting of vegetables and pieces of meat cooked in an angry-looking thick chili base with oil floating to the top. I don't know what it's called in English but I always eat it with my best friend when I go to his house.
Posted 2/22/15
Open a restaurant that caters to your taste buds and if more are thinking the same way, you could have a thing going
Posted 2/22/15
I like to be able to actually taste my food, thank you very much.

Just carry around a bottle of whatever burns your mouth the best and add it to your food.

Not everyone wants to spend the next day crying in the bathroom.
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21 / M / Here
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Posted 2/22/15
I'm not hugely into spicy food, but I will say there's a mexican place a few miles from where I live, and whenever I go I have a chimichanga with a chili filling. They have a spicy scale on the menu and that one ranks at 3 out of 3; at the most, though, it makes my nose run a bit. I can imagine people being let down if they want something with more of a kick, but at the same time it depends on the individual. My dad would always mention how spicy the peppers in his nachos were, but a few visits later I realised my chimichangas contained the exact peppers he was always saying were really hot, yet I'd never found them hot enough to complain about at all.
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25 / M / Iowa >.>
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Posted 2/22/15
I like spicy, yeah most places around me don't do spicy. hell my roommates can't handle spicy at all. they like the extra mild pace you might as well put tomato sauce on your food.
33946 cr points
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M
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Posted 2/22/15
Don't go by any star system on the menu. With most places, that "rating system" is on the menu by the menu designer. The cooks don't give it any thought at all, and may not even know how many "stars" a given dish is on the menu -- they just follow their recipe.

Cook versus chef issue.

Saying "extra spicy" or "a lot more spicy" is also much too subjective if you don't have a relationship with the servers/preparers by going to a place often enough. Certainly any restaurant where the cook that day could be different from the last time, you won't have much consistency aside from the base recipe.

You'll do better by giving specific directions, such as "ask the cook to double the chile peppers please."


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43 / M / A Mile High
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Posted 2/22/15
Denver has a few decent places where you can get spicy food. There are some places that make Green Chile that is truly spicy. I have a Punjabi place I go to that will satisfy a craving for spicy too. The Thai places here are pretty hit and miss, as well as the Korean.

I generally eat at small family places, so unless you are a regular they aren't going to make something especially spicy and risk having it sent back to the kitchen. The profit margins are too thin to be throwing out food on a regular basis.

One time we went to one of our regular Thai places in town with my daughter, and the waitresses were concerned when I ordered all the food medium spice, because of my daughter. When the food came, they were gathered around watching as she scarfed down half my bowl of Tom Kha Gai, and asked if she could have some "spicy sauce" on her noodles. They thought that was amazing, so I can imagine what most of their customers idea of spicy is.
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Posted 2/22/15
Try family-owned restaurants, the chains will surely be a miss. And also try to read reviews for the restaurants?
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25 / M
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Posted 2/22/15

VZ68 wrote:

It depends on where you are when you order them. Some states know how to bring the heat, other states, they don't. As I've gotten older, I don't like spicy anymore, so yeah.


This. Because even with chain restaurants even if they have a set recipe most are expected to follow there are still going to be small differences especially with the more complex dishes that require spices and things. Like Mc Donald's food is mostly the same coast to coast since most of the ingredients are pre prepared and they just have to grill or fry it and put it all together. But for places that require actual preparation each person is going to do it somewhat differently.
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28 / M
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Posted 2/22/15
I adore spicy food! Luckilly I have both a Thai and Chinese restaurant within a half hour of home that can pack on the spice (although still slightly diluted to the American pallet). You can ask for authentic Thai level spice at the Thai restaurant, and they will give it to you with a warning. Only regulars know about this as it's not written on the menu.

As for American restaurants, we have Buffalo Wild Wings with their spicy hot challenge, but when I did that, I was surprised by how weak the spice was... The only difficulty was finishing the number of wings within the time limit. The spice had no factor at all, except maybe for those who think ketchup is spicy.

The spiciest dish I have ever had was ramen at a ramen-ya in Utsunomya, just north east of Tokyo. The chef makes his own habenero concentrate that is hotter than any ghost pepper I have ever eaten. As usual for these kinds of things, he has a scale of 1-10. A 5 is about level with authentic Korean spice. No one, not even the Chinese, Thai, or Koreans that visit his shop have completed a 10. 9 was only completed I think 4 times, each time by a Korean. I asked for an 8, and was almost laughed out of the shop. I am an American after all. What do we know about spice? Anyway, I convinced him to let me try a 7, a quarter the spice level of 8. He then gave me a small dish on the side with broth. There was enough extract to make the ramen an 8. I taste tested the broth, and it just about knocked me flat. It was concentrated enough to make my entire bowl of ramen an 8 when mixed in. I then tried the ramen, and it now seemed too weak compared to the broth on the side, so I dumped it all in. The owner was looking at me in disbelief. I finished the bowl and got a free drink and ice cream out of it, but dang, it was rough. I have yet to find anything that competes. Next time I go to Japan, I'm planning on trying a 10 if the shop is still doing it.
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38 / M / SW Ontario, Canada
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Posted 2/22/15
As someone who generally isn't into overly spicy food (particularly when the spice comes purely in the form of heat and not flavour), I usually find the heat ratings fairly accurate at most restaurants. I can certainly understand that someone may want more heat out of their food but I'd imagine the heat ratings are more intended for your average restaurant goer than someone seeking to toast their taste buds.
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26 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 2/22/15
I can't handle spicy foods.
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