More than 2700 hundred miles from New Orleans, Naomi Tomky found the Louisiana crawfish boil she was looking for.
"A really flavorful, amazing dish and spicy enough that it hurts," she said.
The freelance food writer has tasted fiery fare in places like Sri Lanka and Singapore. She wanted to track down the best spicy dish in Seattle.
"It has to be a little bit painful," she said. "Your body has to start sweating a little bit, kind of get your heart racing. You know, a little bit of excitement in your dinner."
This wasn't just a dare or stunt for Tomky. She wanted to taste the kind of heat that requires eating with gloves. It's her version of skydiving or riding roller coasters.
"It's sort of a thing that you crave," Tomky explained. "For myself and other people who like spicy food, it becomes something that's sort of addicting."
Crawfish House in Seattle's White Center neighborhood offers diners a unique option. They prepare meals with spices based on a typical 1-5 stars scale, but according to the menu, "can accommodate spicier levels if you're crazy."
"Apparently I'm crazy," Tomky laughed. "I went with 20 (stars,) and they were not messing around."
20 stars of spice includes house-made hot sauce (highly concentrated habanero oil), generous portions of cayenne, and scoops of powdered ghost chili - once certified as the world's hottest pepper.
Chef and owner of Crawfish House, Hiep Ngo, blends traditional Louisiana cooking with Vietnamese influences. The result is a flavorful, fiery cuisine known as Cajun Asian.
"We want people to taste our flavors, our flavors are different," he said. "Original, and different."
When Tomky took her first bite of the 20 star crawfish boil, she knew her search was over. She'd found the best spicy dish in Seattle.
"Even with all of the pain and spiciness, it really had flavor," she said.
For mere mortals, there are milder - but equally delicious – options at Crawfish House, like smothered catfish and fried pickles.
For more about Tomky's quest for spiciness, read her article in The Stranger.
9826 16th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106
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