Take it from us: you need to be able to handle a lot of heat to take on the Really F**kin Hot tenders, wings or drumsticks at Belle’s Hot Chicken in Fitzroy and Richmond. It’s the classic fried Nashville style, with spices – smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and habanero powder – layered on later to give it the required kick (there are five different levels of heat). Unless you’ve got an asbestos-lined mouth, the Hot version will probably give you all the spice you desire. Order with sides of mac and cheese and coleslaw.
Executive chef Benjamin Cooper is a massive fan of chilli, and there’s plenty of kick in many of the dishes at Chin Chin, the super-popular pan-Asian eatery in Flinders Lane. The meat it’s paired with changes seasonally, but there’s always a jungle curry on the menu. Made using scud chillies – they look a bit like bird’s-eye chillies, but are smaller and hotter – it’s a popular little number.
There are no surprises on the menu at Dainty Sichuan. All the dishes at this Lonsdale Street restaurant are rated, with a three-chilli icon recommended only for those with an incredibly high tolerance for fiery flavours. The Chongquing chicken – fried chicken pieces under a layer of red chillies and Sichuan pepper, which numbs the lips and sets the tongue tingling – is a favourite dish.
Don’t make the mistake of saying it’s OK to mix the skewers of crazy wings you’ve ordered on the same plate (or same bag, if you’re taking away) as, say, the honey spicy and delicious curry versions at the super-casual Crazy Wing. They look innocuous enough, but the burn is real. You might need to dive in to one of the neighbouring convenience stores for a Big M to calm your raging tastebuds.
If you want heat but the rest of the family just wants something delicious, head to Burgerlove [South Melbourne and St Kilda]. Those in the know say these patties stuffed in a bun are some of the best around and the menu reveals a spicy devil known as Hotter than Hell. It’s got a beef patty, American cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, two jalapeno poppers (the chillies are stuffed with cream cheese and fried), jalapenos and death sauce.
The menu at fine Indian restaurant Le Taj in West Melbourne boasts its bhoot jolokia curry is Melbourne’s hottest. Order it – with either beef, lamb or chicken – at your own risk. The bhoot jolokia is also known as the ghost chilli, which is also known as the world’s hottest chilli. If you need a comparison, it’s 400 times hotter than tabasco sauce.