Cravers of capsaicin rejoice: Today is National Hot and Spicy Food Day. This celebration of fiery foods is the perfect excuse to sample St. Louis' contribution to the category. So that all levels of spice connoisseurs can participate in the fun, the list includes a broad range of spice levels. While some dishes give a gentle burn, others will light your taste buds on fire. Just don't blame us tomorrow morning.
The Flying Pig at Guerrilla Street Food (@guerrillastreet, www.guerrillastreet.com; 314-529-1328)
Brian Hardesty and Joel Crespo bring the hot and spicy to the customer via their famous food truck, Guerilla Street Food. The "Flying Pig" is Guerrilla's standout dish: tender, slow-roasted pork on a bed of jasmine rice. The meat's natural flavor is subtly spiced and then spiked with chiles, Sriracha sauce and calamansi (a lime-like citrus fruit). And there's that slow-cooked egg on top, which has a texture like no other egg you've ever eaten: white and yolk are thick and supple, like custard. We'd happily eat one of these eggs on its own; deployed in tandem with the pork, it fully justifies the dish's name.
The Kim Cheese Burger at Kim Cheese (13435 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield; 314-485-1408)
Kim Cheese takes on one of the nation's hottest culinary trends: Mexican-Korean fusion. This seemingly odd marriage turns out to be a match made in heaven. The "Kim Cheese Burger" pairs thin slices of grilled rib-eye steak with a generous serving of kim chi and tops them, classic burger style, with tomato, onion and a slice of American cheese. The savory-sweet beef, the funky kim chi and the tangy cheese manage to surprise at the same time the combo presses your fast-food-pleasure buttons. While the Mexican element is not on display in this dish, it shows Kim Cheese's willingness to push past the basic Korean-Mexican trend to something both quirkier and more universally appealing: a quality-conscious, Korean-Mexican-American fast-food mashup.
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