I’m addicted to spicy food. I’ve written about it before. It constantly pulls me back to Jitlada and Spicy BBQ. So when I heard that Akbar in Marina del Rey brought rival heat levels it took less than a week to put them to the test.
I keep hearing that Indian food is the spiciest food in the world- even spicier than Thai food. The bhut jolokia pepper (the spiciest pepper in the world) comes from India, which is a testament to their spice-producing-abilities. I’m saving my bhut jolokia post for another time, but after trying Dave’s Ghost Pepper Insanity Sauce at the Fancy Food Show then cooking with them a few months ago, bhut jolokia’s certainly are in a league of their own. LA’s Indian food, however, has yet to beat Thai food in my spice book.
So we went to Akbar (which is not associated with the Akbar in Silverlake). On the way we passed Agra (which is not associated with the Agra in Silverlake). Upon our arrival we weren’t served the usual pappadams. The menu actually seems more sophisticated than the usual Indian fare (yes, I’m talking about you Gate of India). At the top of the menu there’s a spice designation (1 being mild to 5 being too spicy for mere mortals).
Our waiter gave us a prepared speech about their specials and the spice levels of their dishes. This included a “no send back” policy on their level 3 and higher dishes. He cautioned us that level 5 spice was too serious and we should start with the level 4 lamb vindaloo if we dared. He was very confident that that would suffice, and if it didn’t we could return to try the level 5 green peppercorn curry lamb.
We ordered other dishes but they don’t matter because the lamb our server suggested was not nearly as spicy as a medium dish at Jitlada (the papaya salad, for example). In a spice kickboxing match Akbar was throwing weak left jabs against Jitlada’s vicious spinning backfists and would have been knocked out in the first round. In addition to the poor spice showing, the flavor wasn’t even great. The quality of the meat was the only redeeming part of the dish. Worst of all, the naan sucked- it was thin and took an almost stale consistency after a few minutes on the table.
Overall the meal was like when you’re expecting a great birthday gift and you get a white turtleneck sweater.
So the challenge is going out to all Indian restaurants- who can bring spiciness to rival Thai food? Please step forward now. The ice-water-filled gauntlet has been thrown…