Making every bite count

03 February 2007

finally reaching my heat threshold, and a review of heat

It's freakishly cold in Cincinnati this weekend, so I decided to heat up with a review of hot food around town.
I love hot food, the spicier the better. After a year of Korean food, I have a pretty strong gut when it comes to spice, so I tend to be a bit ballsy when eating out. On a scale of 1-10, I usually go with 10 at Thai, Korean and Chinese places and an 8 at Indian restaurants.
I met my match at my favorite restaurant, Udipi. I ordered chana batura, which is a light, fried balloonlike bread with spiced chickpeas on the side. I had ordered this a couple of times before, but this time I asked for "extra spicy."
PJ laughed as tears ran down my face and I greedily slurped raita in between long, exaggerated inhales through pursed lips. My nose ran incessantly, but I kept eating. My stomach would be fine and my fiery lips would cool. The chickpeas were so rich, so spicy, so delicious! I couldn't stop.
Oh, and a meal at Udipi for two with appetizers, never goes above $20! More reason to love it!
Here are my observations on other spicy dishes I've eaten recently.
Riverside, in Covington: Tofu soup with clams. 2, perhaps. As far as Korean food goes, it was tame. (But the food there is delicious and quite authentic!)
Teak, in Mount Adams: Seafood Choochee curry. Oh, the squid was divine. So tender, as it should be! I ordered an 8 the first time and felt nothing. The second time there I went for a 9, which was a nice 4 or so at dinner. The next day, the leftovers were definitely a 9. Their curries are the best I've found in town.
Wild Ginger, in Mount Adams, also makes good curries. I ordered salmon choochee there a couple of weeks ago, and an 8 was nicely flavored but not hot enough. Not even the leftovers were fiery. Oh, and the salmon -- a nice-size fillet -- was buried beneath the vegetables and sauce. Perhaps this was to conceal that it had been dreadfully overcooked. I love a crispy piece of salmon, but this piece was crunchy most of the way through. The thinner end of the fillet was nearly inedible. The last time I'd been there I ordered a green curry with chicken. I think I ordered a 6, because my friend and I were planning to share. It was bland.
My "book club" went to Aqua in Mount Lookout for half-price sushi night two Wednesdays ago. The sushi was fabulous, as were the scene and the wine, but the spicy scallop rolls were what really stole my heart. The scallops were fresh, sweet and succulently tender. The spice almost detracted from them, but the heat was so serendipitous that I didn't mind.
I'm always looking for good ethnic food, so share!

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At 11 February, 2007 15:56 , Anonymous Bridget said...

Hey Stepf, it's Bridget from book club. From one foodie to another, let me just say: I love your blog!

Here's my ethnic food recommendation:

Floyd's in Clifton.
The owners are an older Lebanese couple, and the wife makes ALL of the food for the restaurant every morning at 4am. For that reason, when Floyd's runs out of something, they are OUT of it until the next morning... and they run out of a lot of stuff. They also keep increasingly odd hours. It is, however, worth it to go there. Menu standouts include the lima beans (the real, large, buttery white ones-- not the shriveled green beasts from a bag or can) slow cooked w/ GARLIC, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley, and the spit-roasted chicken, the baba ganouje, etc. They make their own (delicious) hummus- and I am a picky hummus connoiseur, and they usually bring out a side of thick, creamy, REAL greek yogurt for dipping and garnishing. I love the Mjaddarah, lentils w/ carmelized onions and basmati rice.

You must try it. One of my favorite tri-state dining experiences, hands down. Let me know if you go, as I'm always looking for an excuse to get there. Enjoy!


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