I tried three spicy dishes from local Tempe restaurants, and I survived

Restaurants near ASU's Tempe campus turn up the heat with these spicy dishes

Those living on any of ASU’s campuses are no stranger to the boiling summer temperatures outdoors, but not everyone can handle the heat of spicy dishes from the kitchen. 

This week, I tried three dishes from different restaurants around the ASU Tempe campus to test how much these local establishments could turn up the heat.

I’ll admit that testing your limits for spicy food during the hot months doesn’t exactly sound like an appetizing idea, but there’s a reason why some cultures favor spicy seasonings, especially in hotter climates. There can be many benefits to eating spicy foods, like living a longer life, appetite control, fighting certain cancer cells and more.

I wouldn’t call myself a spicy food fanatic — if anything, I tend to stay on the safer, milder side. However, I was curious to see what kind of spicy dishes were offered nearby. 

If you’re craving some flavorful heat, take a look at these three options around the ASU Tempe campus.

Rehab Burger Therapy: Ghost Burger

This burger is the hottest served at Rehab Burger Therapy (I asked). It is topped with ghost pepper jack cheese, onions and fresh guacamole. All of these ingredients are sandwiched between buns of your choosing.

The Ghost Burger was the least spicy item of the three that I tried, though when I continued to eat the burger leftovers later, I found myself noticing more of the heat from the peppery cheese. 

However, the sweet onions and dollop of avocado in the burger helped ease my urge to cough incessantly, and the patty was surprisingly tasty for the amount of time I left it in the to-go box.

The Relapse burger is $11.75 and comes with a side of your choice. I highly recommend the fries, they are amazing.

4/10 spice level

The Dhaba: Kashmiri Chicken Tikka Masala

Several Indian dishes are inherently spicy, and the Kashmiri Chicken Tikka Masala from The Dhaba is no exception.

This establishment allows you to decide the amount of spice you want by referring to a scale of one through ten, ten being the hottest. I was warned that a seven had a strong kick to it, so to test my palette, I decided to order an eight.

I picked up my dish to-go in the morning, and by the time I had my first bite in the afternoon, the meal had become quite cold. But if I had warmed it up, I can guarantee that my mouth would have been on fire. 

Also, eating it cold helped me convince myself that the spice wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

The bright red-orange color made it clear that this would be a spicy dish, though it wasn't as painful as I had anticipated.  In fact, I think I could have gone with a ten to truly challenge myself. The tikka masala was delicious, though, and the chicken morsels made the meal very filling.

While the dish was the most expensive of the three options, priced at $16.00, it did come in a large portion with a side of rice. 

Additionally, I ordered my dish with two pieces of garlic naan bread, which not only tasted flavorful on their own, but were also used as delicious sponges to soak up leftover sauce.

7/10 spice level

Szechwan Noodle: Dan-Dan Noodle

The Dan-Dan noodles from Szechwan Noodle are deceiving. It may appear like a harmless mound of noodles, but it was actually the hottest dish that I tried out of the three locations.

While this dish does begin to burn after a few large bites, the peanut topping provides some relief to the heat and contrasts an otherwise more creamy texture of the sauce. 

The burning sensation from this dish lingered longer than the other foods, which contributed to my decision to rank it higher than the others.

This dish was the least expensive of the three, listed at $8.99 on its menu. The portion size and flavors definitely makes this meal worth the price, even though I wasn’t able to enjoy it all in one sitting because the heat gradually built up and became too overwhelming for my taste.

8.5/10 spice level

Reach the reporter at vahill1@asu.edu or follow @victoriaahill99 on Twitter. 

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