When temperatures stretch into the upper 80s and 90s as they have in recent days, many people reach for a glass of lemonade, ice cream cones, or some coconut water. Others cling to the well-traveled notion that warm liquids actually provide more relief. Here's the rationale: Millions of people around the world — from Iowa farmers to Bedouin herders — accompany brutally toasty weather with sputtering cups of tea or coffee. Why?
The idea is that hot liquids make a hot person sweat more, encouraging the body to cool itself down, effectively rigging its internal A.C. to blast. So, even if you're purple-faced, miserable, and sweating through your clothes, you're technically, against logic, against what feels right, legitimately cooling off. We're sticking with slushies, but in case you're hoping to surf the heatwave with something steaming, we have some suggestions:
4. Soondubu from Soot Bull Jeep:
This rough-hewn Korean barbecue mainstay's spicy tofu stew is not the best in town, but based on the sampling we've done, it may be the hottest. Not the spiciest, but the hottest. Ten minutes after the bowl hits the table, one ruddy speck of its roiling broth can turn your tongue numb.
3. Tonkotsu Ramen from Ramen Yamadaya:
Not only will your ramen arrive piping hot (you'd be surprised at how many ramen spots screw this part up), but the unctuous, bone-rich brew will be festooned, if you ask for it, with a few gel-like hunks of kakuni, or long-simmered pork belly. And everyone knows that pork belly, like hot soup, cools you off when the weather is britches-soakin'-hot.
2. Khao Soi at Spicy B.B.Q.:
In 2008, Jonathan Gold wrote lovingly of this Northern Thai standout's version of the classic egg noodle-stocked chicken-coconut milk soup. And with good reason. The soup is crowned with a nest of crisp fried noodles to balance the soft ones swirling alongside tender slices of chicken in the luscious broth. The accompanying raw onions and pickles add bite and acidity to the mix. A bonus: Not only are you cool after polishing off a bowl (and maybe a pork curry), you're also unable to walk — and therefore unlikely to work up any supplemental sweat.
1. Black Mole Chicken at Expresion Oaxaquena:
Little-known, scientifically-unsupported fact: A nice, thick stew cools you off even more than an equally hot soup or herbal infusion. The mole at this small Oaxacan joint is mostly mole. Authentically, the chicken comes in the form of two big, boney hunks and its nearly spreadable molasses-dark bath fills up the rest of the styrofoam vat. Suck it down for major summer relief.
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