Jamaican Jerk Chicken at Mesob Restaurant

By Jenny Vergara

Just what makes spicy foods taste hot, we can explain with science. The capsaicin located in the seeds of the peppers actually tricks your brain into believing that you are literally on fire, which explains why you start to sweat when you eat spicy foods, to cool your body down.

What we don’t always understand is why people seek out these insanely spicy foods. Since the beginning of time, hot spices can be found in almost every type of cuisine around the world—and for about that long, there have been chili-heads looking to feel the burn.

Here are some of the most searing dishes to date in Kansas City. Be warned, you may need a glass of milk and some tissues just reading this.

Po's Dumpling Bar by mkcouglin

Szechuan-Style Orange Beef, Extra Spicy, at Po’s Dumpling Bar

For almost 10 years, Po and Rita Hwang, have been serving up authentic Asian dishes at Po’s Dumpling Bar, their dumpling and noodle restaurant on 39th Street. The Taiwanese couple splits the work, with Po in the front of the house and Rita cooking everything to order in the back. Order the Szechuan-style Orange Beef extra spicy for a crispy, hot, sweet and sticky delight. This dish features tender slices of beef, twice fried until crispy, served in a sticky pan sauce made with orange juice, orange peel, sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic and of course dried red chilies. It is served over steamed rice for $15 at dinner. Szechuan cuisine is spicy by definition, but at Po’s they are more than happy to dial the heat in any dish, just say WHEN.


Photo by @mkcoughlin via Instagram

Jumbo Wings at Grinders KC

Death Nectar Wings at Grinders

STRETCH, the artist, TV personality and restaurateur, has always had a firm vision of the type of food he wanted to serve at his, now three, Grinders restaurant locations, and chicken wings have been on the menu from the start. Yet, STRETCH and his kitchen wizards decided to create their own hot sauces to go on those wings -- with names like Wimpy, Molten, Near Death and the insanely hot Death Nectar sauce that he now bottles and sells around the world. Just how hot is it? The Death Nectar sauce uses ghost peppers and habanero mash and the sauce itself ranks 337,000 Scoville units, which means mind-bending relentless heat. Order a half dozen for $7.25, a dozen for $10.25 or throw caution, and your digestive tract to the wind, and get their “Big *ss order” with 24 pieces for $18. Hey, it’s your funeral.


Photo by @grinderskc via Instagram

KC Tasty Thai Sauce via Instagram

Larb, Very Hot, at Tasty Thai

Chef Dom Wiruhayarn and his wife Marisa have been serving delicious Thai specialties to Kansas City’s Northland for more than 15 years at their restaurant Tasty Thai. With two locations, the other is in Liberty, the couple uses the standard five levels of heat to determine how hot you can take it. When you order your dish you simply specify—Mild, Medium, Hot, Very Hot and Thai Hot. Looking for a cool and refreshing way to get your heat? Order the Larb salad at Tasty Thai, Very Hot—assuming you want to taste anything the next day, avoid Thai Hot—for around $10 at dinner. Made with sautéed ground chicken or beef, this dish is tossed in a dressing made with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chili-garlic sauce with onions, Thai chilies or serrano chili peppers, cilantro, green onion and served over lettuce.


Photo by @kc_tasty_thai via Instagram

Longboards Wraps and Bowls

5-Alarm Beef Wrap at Longboards

Gilbert Macapagal opened his first Longboards 12 years ago on North Oak Trafficway, making the “California wraps” that he had enjoyed while living near the beach in San Diego. Now with four locations, he is still inspired by island and surf culture, offering 36 wraps, salads and bowls with flavors from Hawaii, California, Japan, China and Mexico, and sometimes all of them at once. Try the 5-Alarm Beef, a quesadilla-style grilled wrap, with steak, pepperjack cheese, pico de gallo, rice, with both spicy Chinese and Napalm hot sauce (5-alarm) on a jalapeno wrap for around $7. Although not listed on the menu, there are rumors that you can order this dish up to 9-alarm spicy, but no one has lived to tell about it.


Jerk Chicken at Mesob Restaurant

Aside from their African roots, Ethiopian and Caribbean cuisine would seem to have little in common, but at the newly opened Mesob Restaurant on Broadway, these two cuisines co-exist beautifully together thanks to the refined talents of Chef Cherven Desauguste and his business partner, Mehret Tesfamariam. Bird is the word here. Get the Jamaican Jerk Chicken, featuring half of a chicken marinated in authentic fresh jerk seasonings, then roasted and smothered in a spicy jerk barbecue sauce and served with caramelized sweet plantains and mango salsa for $19 at dinner. Just as one would expect, the dish was delightfully spicy with enough heat to draw sweat to your brow.



Contact Visit KC