We at Time Out love spicy food. A habanero here, a hot tamale there. But for some, there’s nothing quite like the self-inflicted agony of scoffing spice for sport’s sake. Hats off to you, whoever you are. We nearly burned a hole through our tongue to find you Melbourne’s top five most incendiary, soft palate-destroying spicy dishes.
Melbourne's spiciest dishes
Chilli level: 10/10
Peddling a neat combination of Southern-inspired chicken and natural wines, Belles Hot Chicken has in its short life built a reputation for inflicting some of the city’s cruelest heat damage by way of its top-tier chilli rub: Sex Panther. One tier hotter than Really Fuckin’ Hot, it combines the chilli force of each heat-tier under it with the folkloric Carolina Reaper pepper: the Guinness World Records-certified scary bish chilli of the universe, clocking in at 1.6 million scoville units. We try and order a plate of Sex Panther wings, but we are not allowed: “I just wanna warn you,” begins our waiter, “in my opinion, it’s not enjoyable. The only guy I’ve seen ever get close insisted he could do it cause he was drunk, and then he went out the front and vomited on the footpath.” We order a single solitary Sex Panther tenderloin instead, served encrusted in a thick, chalky rouge rub atop a slice of trashy white bread, get halfway through it and mouth-breath our way to the exit. Dizzyingly hot — thunderclap headache territory. Utterly f**ked.
Chilli level: 9/10
Inside this dim-but-comfy, 30-seat Indian restaurant the menu is heat-coded on the traditional one-to-five chilli scale; generally a pretty clear and braggadocious declaration of intent, but in Red Pepper’s case, it might well have been mandated by law. The menu offers only one three-chilli item (the vindaloo), zero four-chillis, and a single scale-maxing, five-alarm chilli dish: the Ghost Mirchi Beef, which comes paired with this most foreboding warning: “Nuclear strength hot. Extremely hot and spicy diced beef cooked with bhut jolokia chillies. Please note this dish contains the Indian ghost pepper chilli, which is certified as India’s hottest chilli. Please only order if you have experience with these chillies before.” We let the wait staff know we’re here for the express, masochist purpose of ruining our own days, and are delivered the definitively brown, scoville-core curry. It’s manifestly too hot — not immediately, but it’s a builder.
Chilli level: 8
Russell Street’s preeminent Beijing chuan’r joint does a pretty hot, hot chicken wing. Lovingly massaged with desicated hellfire and served two to the skewer, the eponymous crazy wing is another bona fide mouth scorcher. The northern wall of this rambunctious late night haunt is scrawled with crazy wing consumption records, the latest being 23 skewers, or 46 wings. We plump for just the one and set our own personal record. It's not quite as hot as Belle's, but the crazy wing is still nothing to sneeze at, using “chillies from China that our boss imports”, our waiter tells us. “Can you ask your boss which chillies he uses?" “No.” Fair enough.
Chilli level: 8/10
Melbourne’s cheap Thai sector leveled up significantly in 2017, when Sydney’s Thai street food import Dodee Paidang opened in a basement off Collins Street. Though the menu runs deep, Dodee Paidang is at its core a tom yum major, offering the puckering broth on a heat scale of one-to-seven. Tier seven, or “super nova” hot, is indeed quite hot—if not galactically so. But— and you heard it here first — what they don’t tell you is that the scale actually extends to ten, you just need to need to have a quiet chat with your server in order to unlock the final three heat-tiers and the subsequent heat tears. Once you’re at the tenth-tier of heat, your soup is essentially as much chilli as it is broth.
Chilli level: 7/10
The burgers at Southeastern chain YOMG (Yo My Goodness) pack the requisite heft and scale of gluttony to be heard in an ever-crowding market – none more so than its $18.50 'The Reaper' burger. Tamped between a jet-black squid ink bun you’ll find two beef patties, double maple-glazed bacon, onion jalapeño jam and reaper mayo. The coup de grace, however, are the two Carolina Reaper hot sauce-filled 'injectas' (pipettes) that pierce the top bun, reading “WARNING! #YOMGITSHOT. PLEASE USE CAUTION WHEN USING CAROLINA REAPER INJECTA.” Throwing that caution to the wind, we max out our injectas, doing our best to distribute the heat evenly around the burger. The areas struck with the sauce are hot to be sure, but given the sheer size of the sandwich, some areas go uncovered, meaning if you’re really looking for pain you’ll need to ask for extra injectas.