Here at Time Out, we like to have our spicy food and eat it too. That's why we've compiled a list of some of the hottest (chemically) places in town. Fortunately, if your post-meal glow isn't quite as good as your during-meal satisfaction, we've got something for that too.
Spicy Sichuan knows how to handle the heat. There's a version in Glebe already but this one, which you'll find on Cunningham Street in the CBD, is far superior. The waitstaff are incredibly friendly and no one tells you you've ordered too much food or anything's ‘too spicy' (code for the good stuff they don't want you to order). And chefs Zhang Xinrong and Li Xian are doing some incredibly spicy food. Their version of ma po tofu is a lifechanger - absolutely riddled with Sichuan pepper that's so fresh it fizzes. That old favourite of cubed-then-deep-fried chicken bits nested in a sea of dried chilli and Sichuan peppercorns is on the menu too, the almost-druggy effect of the pepper combined with the whole dried chillies and little pieces of chicken hidden like jewels means it's all about picking through that hot and numbing danger for the tasty (and surprisingly, not very hot) chicken bits.
Thanks to Sujet Saenkham’s cooking, there's a whole lot of chilli on one tiny patch of Surry Hills. Here at the Eating House, it’s not only Thai dishes that get a workout, but Malaysian and Chinese as well. For instance the sweet savour of Brussels sprouts stir-fried with slices of Chinese sausage, or a Thai yellow curry of tofu, cashews, green beans and white cabbage with brightness and gentle spice. Or it could well be a Malaysian char kway teow, all glossy sticky noodles, prawns, baby squid and bean shoots with a really nice wok hei, or breath of the wok, to all you gwailo/farang/ang mo readers. It’s not quite as fluffy and airy as you might find at some of the straight-up Malaysian places in Sydney, but it’s damn fine all the same.
Everybody likes roti – what’s not to like? Paper-thin pieces of dough are rolled out very thinly, fried on a hotplate and folded into little parcels to be eaten with curry or ice cream or even just by themselves. Though these are traditionally Indian fare, they’re also a main feature of Malaysian cuisine. From the way people talk about Mamak's roti, you can almost forget they serve actual meals. Let the record show that they do. If you're in the market for a smoking hot curry, this is the place to go. The Sambal sauce over stir fried prawn or cuttlefish will scorch your taste buds.
Here husband-and-wife team Andrew Bao and Pinjun Li serve quality fare executed with skill.
The striking thing about the dishes is their elegance, subtlety and clarity of flavours in the face of so much fat, salt and heat. That said, it's the type of heat that blossoms and blooms in your mouth rather than attacking you like an angry bee.It's the combination of textures at Chairman Mao that really get us going. Take the dish of broad beans with pork mince: the chalky, squishy, chubby little beans are all coated in spicy, sweet, fried pork mince – the combination is pretty much life changing. A side of pickled radish is slimy, salty, crunchy and sweet all at the same time, while a side of black fungus is gelatinous and hot.
Casual, rustic and rambunctious, this Glebe Point Road favourite is full to bursting with locals after burritos, tacos and cheesy dip.
They do all the usual crowd pleasers like nachos and tacos but we’re more interested in the build-your-own Flying Fajitas – a house specialty – with spiced rice, black beans and seared prawns, or the burritos filled with rice, beans, beef and onion.To take things up a notch, look to the restaurant’s fourth wall. Little cameos of Frida Kahlo, chunky crucifixes and tin framed mirrors line three of the brightly coloured walls while adorning the fourth is a cabinet filled with the most deadly hot sauces known to man. Approach with extreme caution – they’re not your common or garden variety – they’re so hot you’ll feel like you’ve rubbed your tummy with draino. If in doubt about which one to pick, ask one of the brightly dressed waitresses: “Anything with the words hell, burning or death are pretty good indicators” she tells us. You can also buy them from the restaurant if you take a particular fancy to any of them (we took home a bottle of the Widow Maker, complete with plastic spider on the label).
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