Food

The Spiciest Food in Manila That Will Melt Your Face Off

Are you ready to go numb?
IMAGE Sasha Lim Uy/Courtesy of J. Gamboa
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What it is about spicy food that makes it so addictive? Is it the complexity of the flavors? Is it because it's so good it hurtsand quite literally sometimes, too? Is it the taste of danger? Is it the challenge? Did you now that the perceived pain of eating spicy food is more psychological than it is physical? So many questions, it's time for some answers. Looking for the spiciest food in Manila? We've listed down the dishes that are hotter than hell. Enjoy and don't forget the milk.

1| Gochugang's Fire Noodles

Photo by SASHA LIM UY.
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We have to hand it to Chef Patrick Go. He understands ingredients so well that even if this dish feels like a fireball exploded in your mouth, you can still make out the nuances in flavor that make these noodles sensational. Between forkfuls, you'll detect a hint of sweetness, a touch of smokiness, and, even when you're crying out to the heavens for water, you'll find time to appreciate how perfectly chewy the noodles are. There are three levels of heat, and each one blurs the line between pain and goodness.

Stall No. 5, The Grid, Power Plant Mall, Makati

2| Sa Chun Sung SaChun Jjajang

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Sa Chun Sung is a nondescript Chinese-Korean restaurant on the second floor of an equally nondescript building on Pearl Drive. It's a favorite among Koreans, including entertainer Ryan Bang. The restaurant is extremely casual and you'll often find the Korean owner behind the reception desk, sitting in a recliner and watching TV. The glass walls are filled with photos of celebrities eating its bestseller, the SaChun Jjajang. Jjajang is a Korean dish that features hand-pulled noodles topped with creamy black sauce. There's a basic jjajang, with a shy touch of spiciness (no water required), and the signature jjajang, which, on the menu, looks like an innocent plate of noodles swimming in a thick sauce and bolstered by three levels of heat. Ordering the latter in any level will be enough to drag the owner from his chair to give you a disclaimer. This dish isn't for the faint-hearted and he likens it to eating noodle versions of siling labuyo but four times hotter. You know the spice is serious when it comes with a warning. 

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Pearl Plaza, 8101 Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Ortigas, Pasig

3| Azuthai's Tom Yum Goong 


Photo by courtesy of J Gamboa.

Translated, tom yum goong means "hot and sour prawn soup," which makes it sound pretty manageable. The menu itself helps with that misconception: "lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fresh coriander." Where's the heat there, Azuthai? Truth be told, Chef Mali Interamolee keeps her spice levels tame to appease Filipino hotheads, who are amateurs compared to the spicy food lovers in Thailand. Ask the server to pump up the heat as they would in Thailand. While it's delicious nonetheless, you might have trouble feeling your tongue once you polish off the bowl.

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Milkyway Building, 900 A. Arnaiz Avenue Corner Paseo De Roxas Street, San Lorenzo, Makati

4| Caution Hot! Szechuan Noodles

The restaurant itself is a warning. That should tell you to come in armed with a thermos of ice-cold water and milk. The premise behind Caution Hot! is to create DIY noodle bowls where you get to choose everything from the soup base to the noodles to the heat level. If you want a slap-me-in-the-taste-buds-make-me-cry experience, we suggest getting the Szechuan (not that the Laksa is a slouch) in Ultimate Burn. 

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Magiting Street corner Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City; 17 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig

5| Kyochon Red Series

Photo by FACEBOOK/ @kyochonph.

Hot wings are hot, but the wings from this restaurant chain are undoubtedly hotter. Kyochon uses the spiciest chili peppers from Korea so while the entire point of wings is to get hooked, these babies will probably have you stinging and tearing up after three of four pieces. Pro tip: The flavor of chili peppers tend to amplify on hotter months so prepare for angrier heat levels when it's summer in Korea.

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www.kyochon.ph 

6| JAEU Bistro and Ramen Bar's Hell Ramen

We don't have to tell you about the digestive consequences of eating too much spicy food, but if you like taking risks with your dinner, try the Hell Ramen at JAEU Bistro and Ramen Bar. It's a fully loaded bowl with negi, charsiu, onion, spinach, black garlic, raw garlic, and it comes with a heat level that reaches up to five. Last year, JAEU hosted a five-minute ramen challenge complete with a waiver that protects the restaurant from any potential issues.

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Upper Ground Floor, Expansion Wing, Festival Mall, Filinvest City Muntinlupa

7| Coco Ichibanya Level 10

Photo by FACEBOOK/ @CoCoIchibanyaPH.

You've probably been to curry chain Coco Ichibanya several times, but how often have you gone past Level 4 on the heat scale? There are 10 ways you can go about the spiciness of your curry set, but most Coco fans settle into the safe zone between 1 and 5. How shall we describe Level 10? Have you ever set a 20-foot-long Judas Belt in your mouth? No? Well, this is the closest you'll ever get to doing that and survive...we hope.

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Coco Ichibanya branches

8| Swagat's Secret Spice Level

Real Indian food fans understand that there is no limit to the spiciness of Indian cuisine. If you're ever at Swagat again, make sure to tell the server that you want your meal done the way they do it in India. Swagat's Chicken Tikka Masala is a prime example of this. As red and as hot as hell, it is a delicious dish for culinary thrillseekers. Don't blame the server though if you're suddenly sweating and crying buckets.

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It's not just Swagat that takes up the spice meter upon request. Drop by any of the best Indian restaurants in the Metro, and if you're not afraid of the heat, don't be afraid to ask for more.

The Columns, Legazpi Village, Amorsolo Street corner Arnaiz Avenue, Legazpi Village Makati

9| Chiliheads' Don Hulyo Hot Sauce

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Chiliheads in Kapitolyo is the unofficial headquarters for people who love bikes and spicy things (it's a real niche). While its dishes aren't exactly the hottest, this restaurant is also the base of the Don Hulyo Hot Sauce line, which is the perfect condiment to go with everything on their menu. Don Julyo's most notorious sauce is the limited edition Infierno Black Reaper, which is made with Carolina Reapers, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chili pepper in the world. 

6B 1st Street, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig

10| Mao Jia's Steamed Chili Fish Head

Photo by FACEBOOK/ @maojiahunancuisine.
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Mao Jia specializes in Hunan cuisine, which, like Szechuan food, puts the superlative on heat. One of its most popular dishes is the Steamed Chili Fish Head, which is a pair of fish heads literally covered by a bright red lather of spicy chili goodness. With a biting flavor that makes you want more, you'll keep wondering how this dish can be hellish and heavenly at the same time. 

G/F Savana Commercial Center, 1203 P. Ocampo Street corner Chino Roces Avenue, Makati

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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