All I can say to Kirk, Kady and the rest of their Chowhound fans is y'all must have some asbestos coated tastebuds.
This food was SO spicy...
"How spicy was it?"
It was SO spicy, that after TWO bites, my nose started to run...
It was SO spicy, that when we opened the containers, I could SMELL the red pepper dust...
It was SO spicy, that I soaked two napkins with TEARS.
I should clarify by saying that I am not a wimp. I love spicy food. In Thai restaurants, I order the dishes on the menu with four peppers next to them, and then add chiles. I order curries hot, I sprinkle red pepper flakes on Italian food, and I consider cayenne pepper my "secret ingredient" when cooking. My favorite hot sauce is Marie Sharps - made with habanero chiles.
But this was just too much.
I wasn't the only one affected - my husband almost choked on the first bite (that pepper dust'll getcha!) and Brandon - who in his own words "like-a da spice" - was talking about ordering his next meal from the "American Favorites" section of the menu.
I don't know if my husband did something to piss them off when he ordered, or if he simply lied to us when he claimed he didn't order the food extra spicy, but oh man. It was really something else. Halfway through the meal we started talking about where we were going for ice cream .
We ordered most of the dishes discussed on Kirk's blog in this post and a few of the cold appetizers. We ordered our food for takeout, and took it to our friends' house nearby. The dishes we sampled were the Dry Fried Beef, Hot Pepper Prawns, Cold Szechuan Noodles and Rice Crust with Sliced Chicken. The Dry Fried Beef and Hot Pepper Prawns almost had more peppers than meat. Literally, they were piled high with dried peppers, and you could see the liberal dusting of ground pepper on top of that. (They definitely had more peppers than the dishes pictured on Kirk's blog.) The photo below shows the peppers left in the dish after we had eaten most of the shrimp. All of the red bits are dried peppers - you can see one shrimp at the bottom. Sorry so blurry, but I was using an unfamiliar camera - unfortunately I forgot mine. I also didn't think to take a picture of the meal until I realized history was being made with the second spiciest meal I had ever experienced. (The first was when my friend accidentally ordered takeout from Taste of Thai "extra spicy." That meal was truly inedible.) Kirk's photo also seems to show a glaze on the prawns - and based on his description I had thought they would be a bit sweet. I love sweet and spicy combinations, but this was hot hot hot all the way. The dry fried beef (pictured at top) was much the same. I liked the cold Szechuan noodles quite a bit though, and the crispy rice crust was unique - it had a smoky flavor that I didn't quite expect. The crispy rice cake was an interesting contrast with the brothy chicken mixture. The buffet of cold appetizers in front looked interesting, and the ones we tried were quite good (seaweed, beef tendon and bamboo shoots).
The restaurant was very crowded, and the menu is extensive with a number of dishes that I have never heard of. I saw some that looked interesting, including several different preparations for spare ribs and short ribs. I would also like to try the Twice Cooked Fish - which seems to be popular with Chowhounders. I was concerned it might not travel well for takeout.
English is definitely a second language here. I tried to order by phone, but I had to go in because they weren't able to understand what I was asking for by name. They really prefer that you order by number. Incidentally they have recently changed their menu - so the numbers on Kirk's blog are out of date. We figured that out when the guy told me I had just ordered something with eel instead of the hot pepper prawns.
All in all I would definitely say try it. Not everything will set your mouth on fire, and they will modify the spice level upon request. I am also curious to see how they handle the "American Favorites."
I bet they make a mean Orange Chicken.
4957 Diane Ave.
off of Clairemont Mesa, West of 805.
Recommended dishes: Cold Szechuan Noodles, Rice Crust with Sliced Chicken.