I learnt my lesson the other day with a pre-gig outing to Sahifa Kebab Biryani just down from the koban on the main crossing in Roppongi. Chris and I went there for lunch with our mate Soupsey, thinking a full stomach would be good preparation for the show ahead. We asked for the hottest of whatever they had on the menu; we got what we asked for. Chris decided it was only right to go for Sahifa’s trademark biryani, extra hot, and I went for the two-curry set consisting of Saag Chicken and Vegetable Curry. While asking how hot we wanted it, we were told the highest heat count was only three, so I asked for four or whatever, thinking it was lunch so it would probably be only mildly hot. We also opted for some Tandoori Chicken, naan (unfortunately, the only bread at lunch), rice, and beers.
When the food came out, we got stuck into our own, with Chris announcing in a haze of sweat how much kick the biryani was packing. I was already a couple of spoonfuls into my saag when it occurred to me that the accumulating heat was coming from freshly cut chillies. A couple more in and I stopped, looked at Chris, saying "My god, try that" pointing at the saag. We always go for the hottest dishes possible, but I said to him, as my face started dripping and the inside of my mouth rapidly caught fire, I thought it might be too hot to finish. Chris said his was hot, too, so I tried a spoonful; felt nothing. He had a go at mine, remarking that he’d never seen me have a reaction to a spice level like this before, and his eyes lit up. I was mixing it up with the equally-hot vegetable dish, but about three-quarters of the way in, I had to stop. That was me done. I've never not been able to finish a curry, but this one had me beaten.
We went to pay and I asked the guys behind the counter what spice level people usually order. They said mostly two. I said "Never three...four?" "No, never, sir." I put this experience down to not having eaten really top end spicy curries for a while and so my tolerance has taken a hit. For a lunch curry, it wasn't just hot, it was incredibly tasty, too, and hit the mark in so many ways, so we plan to go back better prepared and take it on. The gig went well, but someone mentioned afterwards that I looked a little nervous on entering the stage. I assured them that any fear in my expression was not performance-related and instead all to do with the fire still burning at my core reminding me that I'm going to have to go back at some point and finish the beast off.