What Is NYC’s Spiciest Dish?


It doesn’t look that spicy, does it? This potage is also Dish #20 in our countdown.

Welcome to 100 Dishes to Eat Now, the tasty countdown leading up to our “Best of 2012” issue. Tune in each day (weekends too!) for a new dish from the Fork in the Road team.

I’ve eaten a lot of very spicy food. Last Sunday at a Thai restaurant in Elmhurst, I ate something that made me start hiccuping. I’ve endured the habanero-festooned food of the Yucatan in the shadow of Mayan ruins, and Sichuan hot pots so hot, that the seafood inside almost jumped out onto the tablecloth. And yes I’ve tried the phaal at Brick Lane Curry House, but none of this could prepare me for a soup I was forced to sip rather than spoon up at a West African restaurant last week.

[See More 100 Dishes: When Raw Kale Salad Isn’t a Punishment | New York’s Beijing BBQ Carts Branch Out in a Big Way | A Sweet New Cookie Shop in Essex Market]

If you look hard enough, you’ll find nearly every part of the goat in there.

The goat pepper soup — a West African standard — at Ghanaian restaurant Mataheko is the hottest thing I’ve tasted in a good long time. It starts out seeming only slightly spicy as you fish around in its grayish-brown depths, but then the heat springs on you like a rabid ferret, going first for the nose, then the eyes, then leaping down your throat.

Two spoonfuls and you lie back, bathed in sweat.

This heat with an unusual attack is attributable partly to grains of paradise, a native African peppercorn rarely encountered in American cooking. Chefs take note.

144-07 Jamaica Avenue
Jamaica, Queens

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