|Sampo[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|
Winters in Kyoto can be pretty cold, and it was getting cold even inside our office. This was when Mr. Yamasaki had the bright idea that eating spicy food would make us feel warm. The mecca for hot sauce and chili fans in Kyoto is in Muko City, which is just a 15-minute train ride away from our office near Hankyu Karasuma Station.
We felt we were up to the challenge; Mr. Yamasaki even laughed at it, “How hot can the ramen be? It’s sure to be no problem to me!” he boasted.
At Minmin, you can choose the level of spice you want: starting with the beginner baby-level, you go up to levels 1 through 5, and then can challenge for the really spicy ones: Death Fried Rice, Fried Rice That Half Kills You, and the last boss of this game, Fried Rice of the God of Death. Unfortunately Mr. Yamasaki didn’t have the certificate for passing level 3, so that’s where he would have to start.
… but then, he noticed the gas masks by the lunch blackboard and chickened out. He ended up getting the beginner baby-level of spice, and let us in on a secret: actually, he really can’t take spicy food.
I can take a bit more spice than him, so I decided to go for level-2 fried shrimp in chili sauce.
Here’s Mr. Yamasaki’s portion: he got a bowlful of spicy sesame mazemen (maze means mix and men noodles). The taste was really good and had depth to it, but for Mr. Yamasaki, even the baby-level of spice turned out to be a bit too much:
”So spicy! Hot, hot, hot!” yelled Mr. Yamasaki as he – he had taken one of my shrimp! And it was not baby-hot, but hotness level 2! Which was way too hot for Mr. Yamasaki.
This was my dish, level-2 spiciness fried shrimp in chili sauce. It had a really nice habanero kick to the taste, and it burnt quite a lot when I ate it, but it still had a lot of umami in it.
Mr. Yamasaki was even struggling with the baby-level spiciness of his mazemen noodles, but with much sweat and grunting, he finally finished it. He said it tasted rather good and that he might even try it again some other time.
This was when Hide and Yumemi joined our merry crew. Hide loves spicy food, so he got the level-3 fried rice, which Mr. Yamasaki decided to try.
As you can probably see from his face, it was a bit too spicy for him and it ended up with him looking into the distance and repeating “spicy, spicy, oh so spicy…” for around 20 minutes.
After Mr. Yamasaki had regained his composure, all four of us headed to Second Rooms, a café and gig venue close by that is famous for its super spicy curry.
And here it is: their spiciest curry dish. When you taste it, you first get a really pleasant, sweet taste of curry, but the aftertaste is all chili. The taste lingers, but it’s not truly burning, but rather pleasant.
Like I said, the sweetness hits you first. Unfortunately for Mr. Yamasaki, he didn’t listen to our warnings, but first tried a small spoonful, liked the taste (before the spices hit him), went for a huge scoop of curry. That was way too much for him. The hotness really gets to you afterwards, and Mr. Yamasaki was complaining that it made his head hurt.
After this, we all started to feel a bit bad for Mr. Yamasaki and got him a Hamburg steak sandwich to calm his taste buds. He complained that the spicy food had made this supposedly non-spicy food item taste extremely spicy too.
So, this brings to an end our trip to taste the spiciest of dishes in Kyoto. The Gekikara Shotengai is a really fun place, and we could only scratch the surface with this report. There are so many restaurants offering spicy dishes there that you always find something new.