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10 Best Spicy Dishes in Los Angeles

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Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM

click to enlarge Preserved Pork Belly with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King - G. SNYDER
  • G. Snyder
  • Preserved Pork Belly with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King
So you think you like spicy food? So did we, until we subjected ourselves to the unbelievable gauntlet of pain that Los Angeles' chile-obsessed food scene offers. Indian curries potent enough to cure chest colds; Thai salads that make your eyes burn before you even take a bite; salsas that ought to be as controversial as waterboarding.

We chose 10 of our favorite spicy dishes -- which may or may not be the most spicy in town, since much depends on how well you can convince the kitchen to set your intestinal tract alight -- but there isn't really any doubt that any of these items could have you mopping you the stinging sweat off your brow with an icy towel. Remember the famous quote: "Pain is temporary, but glory lasts until your taste buds grow back." Turn the page.

click to enlarge Nam Kao Tod at Night + Market - G. SNYDER
  • G. Snyder
  • Nam Kao Tod at Night + Market
10. Nam Kao Tod at Night + Market

At West Hollywood's temple to Northern Thai street food, Night + Market, the flavors are unmistakable -- funky fish sauce, pungent herbs and, perhaps most notably, searing chile heat. The papaya salad, cool and lime-tart at first, packs a lingering burn. The umami-rich shrimp-paste fried rice called kao kluk gapi is fortified with enough tiny bird's-eye chiles to make your collar steam. The crispy rice salad known as nam kao tod is a deft balance of chile heat and tart lime juice that will leave you salivating for a good 10 minutes after you've wiped the plate clean. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the night market. 9041 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-275-9724.

click to enlarge Extra Suicide Wings at Ye Rustic Inn - N. GALUTEN
  • N. Galuten
  • Extra Suicide Wings at Ye Rustic Inn
9. Extra Suicide Wings at Ye Rustic Inn

Would any spicy food list be complete without a plate of extra-incendiary Buffalo wings? If you really wanted to singe some taste buds on game day, you could pick up a box of wings from Hoagies & Wings in Culver City or Alondra's in Montebello, both of which boast a top-tier "suicide" flavor. But our favorite is undoubtedly Los Feliz sports bar Ye Rustic Inn, whose plump, crispy wings are a winner by any metric. More customers order the "suicide" level than you might guess, so if you really want to impress your friends, why not ask for "extra suicide," a semi-secret menu item that will have you wishing you could trade in your pitcher of Bud Lite for a fire extinguisher. 1831 Hillhurst Ave., L.A.; 323-662-5757.

click to enlarge Spicy Dry Pot - VIA DUO-POT
  • via Duo-Pot
  • Spicy Dry Pot
8. Szechuan Spicy Dry Pot at Duo-Pot

If you've spent much time around the San Gabriel Valley, you're probably familiar with hot pot, a style of dining that entails dipping anything from fermented tofu to enoki mushrooms into a boiling pot of broth at the center of the table. The original can be lip-numbing on its own, but Arcadia's Duo-Pot amps it ever further with the addition of a spicy dry-pot, a combination of delicately sauteed seafood rubbed with handfuls of chile. This outer ring of food is supplemented by a smaller bowl of chili oil-spiked Szechuan broth in the middle, in which float even more ingredients. The hellish result is two distinct burning rings of fire, the likes of which even Johnny Cash couldn't accurately describe. 1228 S. Golden West Ave., Arcadia; (626) 446-6933.

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