"Dude, I heard there's this dish here in Koreatown, at this joint called Yup Dduk, that claims to be the spiciest in Los Angeles. They call it the KTown Spicy Challenge or something."
My buddy Mike, who runs the @Koreatown Instagram handle, piqued my interest immediately with this little tidbit. If there's anybody that knows KTown well, it was him.
When it comes to spicy food, my tongue's threshold is that of any average mortal, with a sensitivity that likes to call it quits once it hits habanero territory. I can handle spicy food just fine, but really, I've never been the type to go out of my way to put myself through any sort of punishment, especially when it comes to eating. So for me to even consider putting my trusty palate through unprecedented levels of heat speaks more to my dangerous curiosity than anything.
They say its the spiciest dish in L.A., eh? Hmm, bet. I mean how bad could it actually be, right?
I enlisted the help of my good friend Wally, a well-versed foodbeast in his own right, to help me tackle the daunting task that is the #KTOWNSPICYCHALLENGE.
Pandora's Box opened up at the corner of 6th and Normandie, in the heart of Los Angeles' Koreatown, the location of Yup Dduk. Its specific contents? A gigantic bowl of veritable magma. Peep the fiery deets: Korean rice cakes (ddukbokki), ramen noodles, sausages, fish cake, cheese, and a lethal helping of the spiciest pepper in all of Korea, the Ttangcho pepper.
At first bite, the Ttangcho introduced itself to me assertively, smacking sense into all my left brain function, letting me know that yes, curiosity always kills cats, and that I was now clinging to just a few of those proverbial nine lives from here on out. I'm re-thinking all known reason at this point.
But Diddy would be proud, because there ain't no bitchassedness in these dudes. I shoveled in more of the molten lava, willing myself to go on. Each bite felt like tongue-kissing the devil while riding Rapidash bareback.
Yet to be pummeled by wave after wave of the spicy ddukbokki was quickly taking it's toll. I look over at Wally and manage to blurt out half-meant encouragement.
"Yeah, we got 2% done bruh." Wally's deadpan delivery let some of that realness sink in: Ttangcho ain't going nowhere but right through us. We were both sweating like two pigs on a spit, rotating closer and closer to our expected demise. The end was near, and were it not for a few rallying comments from our awesome viewers of this spectacle's livestream, then our fates would have been sealed a lot quicker.
Wally and I tapped out nearly 30 minutes later, spirits singed, tongues wagging, scorched earth left in the wake of the #KTOWNSPICYCHALLENGE. It claimed two more lives that day, business as usual for L.A.'s spiciest dish.