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What is the Proper Way to Order in a Chinese restaurant to receive a spicy dish?

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What is the Proper Way to Order in a Chinese restaurant to receive a spicy dish?

Tom from Raleigh | Jan 4, 2012 01:17 PM

I'm a big fan of Chinese cuisine, especially the spicy foods of the regions of Sichuan and Hunan. Often when I order dishes listed as spicy, denoted by a 1-3 chili pepper on the menu, they come out without the expected heat level. It's really frustrating to order a dish listed as "spicy" and specify to the server that it should be served spicy, only to have the resulting dish have the spice level of green peppers.

Is there some secret code I'm not using? Is my picture hanging on some secret Internet corkboard indicating I can't handle the heat? Is there a perception that people like me (i.e. non-Asians) will send food back to the kitchen if it's served as directed? I'm frustrated. Is there some silver bullet I'm not using?

What say you, hive mind?

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