The best way to feel the full wrath of Belle's Hot Chicken is to come to this Southern-style fried chicken joint with a few friends so you can order all heat levels: the Southern original, medium, hot, really hot, and really fucking hot. Just make sure you have plenty of cold PBR and ranch dressing on the side to cool your heels when you get started.
The medium, even the hot option, hums pleasantly on palate but the really hot territory is where you might run into some trouble. Unlike the umami-enriched heat you might encounter in a pad thai or a Korean tteokbokki (rice and fish cakes), Belle's really fucking hot chicken leaves a film of scorching pain on your mouth that it's virtually impossible to taste the rest of your meal beyond feeling the textures. That said, it is worth trying at least one chicken wing.
Burn factor: 🌶 to 🌶🌶🌶🌶🌶 (depending on how game you are)
The fact that Chin Chin's Scud City jungle curry ("It's real hot!") has been on the menu for as long as the restaurant has been around is an indication of how they're doing spicy right. Sure, you really don't want to chow down on the braised pork shoulder curry on your own, but chef Benjamin Cooper's creation cranks up the heat enough to give you a little burn without obliterating your tastebuds for the rest of the meal. Just make sure you order a side of steamed jasmine rice to help soak up the curry sauce.
Burn factor: 🌶🌶🌶
With dishes named Crazy Wings and Chicken Wings Massacre, you know you’re taking your taste buds out of their comfort zone. These meaty morsels live up to their names with heat levels that are downright bonkers. Tap water won't cut it – BYO chilled beers or a crisp white wine to douse the chilli flames, although we hear milk is also good remedy if you don't mind pairing your chicken with some whole milk. Prices are crazy cheap and service is fast and brisk – don’t expect any molly coddling, even if you rub your eyes post-chicken (highly unadvisable).
Burn factor: 🌶🌶🌶
Brace yourself in the line to Hakata Gensuke, and when you eventually get a seat, you'll want to order the God Fire ramen, a bowl that features the signature tonkotsu broth and homemade noodles. The kicker comes with the accompanying 'Spicy Fire' secret sauce that gets stirred into the broth, before the whole thing is topped with pork chashu, mushrooms and spring onions.
Diners can choose between spicy levels from one to four, but take note, spice fans, this god punishes fools who opt for grade four.
Burn factor: 🌶🌶🌶🌶