In honor of the occasion, we’ve rounded up the fiercest dishes in the city so you can test the might of your mortal taste buds. Good luck, New York!
Maima’s Liberian Bistro
What to eat: the Pepper Soup or the Pepper Shrimp. Both are equally lip-smackin’ as they are lip-searin’. Extreme spice can be tough to balance with other flavors, but Maima does a swell job balancing the intensity with sweet shrimp and savory broth in these two West African eats.
Extinguish the heat with: an icy homemade drink. Choose from Fruit Punch, Ginger Beer, Lemonade or a soothing glass of Sorrel.
Brick Lane Curry
What to eat: the hellish Phaal Curry, if you dare. It’s revered as one of the spiciest dishes in the city – more of a challenge than a nuanced dinner. The owners refer to it as, “an excruciatingly hot curry, more pain and sweat than flavor.” They also add that, “for our customers who do this on a dare, we require you to state a verbal disclaimer not holding us liable for any physical or emotional damage after eating the curry.” (Serious stuff, y’all.) Then, if you’re able to suffer your way through an entire order of it, you’ll get a free bottle of beer, a certificate of completion and your photo in the (P)hall of Fame.
Extinguish the heat with: the blessed relief of a cool Mango Lassi — or really any amount of milk, water, beer or other cold liquid you can possibly get your hands on. Your tongue might forgive you...someday.
What to eat: the “Extra Hot” Nashville Fried Chicken. These babies arrive so spicy your fingers burn a little just from touching them. With a crispy outer skin and juicy meat inside, there are no hyperboles too great for this chicken. An array of salty-sweet goodness mingles with the heat in Peaches’ secret blend of spices. It’s just enough to keep you scarfing it all down, despite the fire raging in your mouth.
Extinguish the heat with: the folks here are actually known to hand out glasses of milk to anyone who looks like they might cry.
What to eat: Jerk Chicken. One of the best things about this dish isn’t just the moment it hits your lips, but the moment your nose gets whiff of the restaurant. This Crown Heights gem crafts aromas that can only be achieved through slow, careful hours of simmering. The end result: some of the best Jerk Chicken in the city.
Extinguish the heat with: Pineapple cheesecake draped in guava sauce. (It’s kinda like milk, right?)
What to eat: Red Dragon Ramen, and be sure to ask for it “very spicy.” The name alone sounds beastly to begin with, and the meal itself doesn’t disappoint. Based on a rich and fiery red broth, it’s packed with a boiled egg, chashu pork, garlic, bean sprouts and a free topping of your choosing.
Extinguish the heat with: an ice-cold sake. (You earned it.)
What to eat: Sichuan-style Chicken. Little Pepper could be seen as something of a misnomer since the dishes here are certainly not small on spice. Everything on the menu is ranked from 0 to 3 on a scale of spice, and the Sichuan-style Chicken is certainly a solid 3 thanks to the pain-inducing red chiles hiding amongst the tender pieces of meat. Extinguish the heat with: all the water you can chug, plus an order of the sesame rice dumplings. They’re soft, chewy and an excellent counterpoint to the searing heat you just ingested.
Extinguish the heat with: any of the fresh ceviches on the menu. The tanginess of the fish proves a perfect companion for the slow, building burn of the drink.