Ask Midtown Lunch: Best Sinus Clearing Spicy Lunch?

Mixed Combo @ the famous Chicken & Rice Cart on 53rd & 6th Ave.

My sinuses are kicking my butt this week and for relief I’m looking for face-meltingly spicy food in midtown. Yesterday’s lunch included the paint-peeling, neon green hot sauce from Kwik Meal. Besides that, and a handful of those little peppers near the checkout at Minar, do you or the readers have options for blindingly hot midtown food? A loyal reader, EJ

Well EJ, Kwik Meal’s sauce may be hot- but I don’t think there is anything hotter than the red sauce from the famous chicken and lamb over rice guys on 53rd & 6th (now with a new cart on 53rd and 7th). If you ask for it on the side, they give it to you in a container that is smaller than a thimble. And with good reason. You don’t need any more of that.

But both of those may be more of a steady burn than a clear out nostrils kind of heat. For a true sinus clearing lunch there is only one place to go.   

Ma "Paul" Tofu @ Szechuan Gourmet, Midtown 

Szechuan Gourmet on 39th btw. 5+6th. The ma “paul” tofu is like a lake of fire (in the best possible way.)

What’s the spiciest lunch you’ve ever had? Got a recommendation, leave it in the comments below. Got a question for the Midtown Lunch readers? Email it to


  • Szechuan Gourmet has some awesome face melting stuff, as mentioned in the post. The hard part is convincing them that you’re really serious when you ask them to make it extra extra spicy. I’ve found that they can be inconsistent in their extra spiciness until you’ve earned some cred.

  • The best sinus clearing lunch when you have a cold is at Menchanko Tei. Get any sort of Ramen dish and be liberal with the red spice powder stuff on your table. This way you get the health benefits of delicious soup and your sinuses get cleared from the spice.

  • Whenever I have sinus trouble, wasabi is the cure. Head to any sushi place (I like the veggie sushi at Ruby Foo’s in Times Square) and ask for extra extra wasabi. Pile it on, eat, and sweat.

  • A couple of Kati Rolls I had lately had sinus-clearing magic powers, especially the chicken one.

    And my lord, that ma po tofu looks amazing.

  • I remember my lunch special from Chef-Yu on 8th ave was so spicy that I raped the milk supply in the company fridge. Even the salad dressing tasted as if it had been chili peppers had been soaking in it.

  • What did you get from Chef Yu? Their beef with chili peppers kills me every time. Although not enough to get me to molest the company milk supply….

  • the hot sauce from Mamouns in the village is spicier then the 53rd and 6th guys….but thats not midtown…sorry im useless.

  • The off-the-menu Doritos, veggie and green hot sauce sandwich at that Blimpie on 46th is probably the most face-melting thing I know of. Beware, though, the consequences that will come later.

  • Will second Samwich on the Mamoun’s (St. Marks location), though it is way out of bounds. Their hot sauce makes Sriracha taste like ketchup.

  • I luv Mamoun’s….soooooo…good!

  • Try Yatagans across the street closer to Bleecker…
    i personally think their Shwarma is better but the Falafal is better at Momouns.

    and what i do is…to balance out teh flavor so u dont get one big nasty bite of HOT sauce….ask for a cup of teh whiet sauce…then squirt in teh red sauce…mix and you have this creamy pink perfection of flavor…pour over teh falafal and enjoy!

  • Cafe’ Duke’s Spicy Soft Tofu Korean soup – it’s my tonic for my nearly seasonal sinusitus! garlicky, spicy and hot, it’s the perfect remedy.

  • I routinely ask the famous cart for more hotsauce, and they never believe me. I need 4-5 good squirts, but I usually get the standard 2 squirts and 2 tiny little squirts afterwards.

  • If you have sinus problem you get to try spicy ‘buradi ‘ roll from “Biriyani Cart” on 46th and 6th its good kati roll

  • @Tim j I love Biryani cart as much as any man could, but they don’t bring the spice that hard (as far as I’m concerned), even asking them to make it as spicy as possible was like half as spicy as 53rd and 6th. I’ve taken to keeping a bottle of the green top thai chili sauce on my desk to pep it up…

  • korean food. get the tofu stew extra spicy and eat it with kimchi. Try to go to flushing because they tone down the spiciness for all the yuppies in manhattan

  • as a man who loves the spice, there’s a little know secret i will share with you…Dunhill Cafe i think 45th between 6th and broadway (might be 46th). has a Cajun Chicken creation, i’ll get in a wrap with pickles and lettuce and they’ll heat up the whole thing on the grill. spectacular and as someone who definitely partakes in all the neighborhood kati rolls, etc, this sandwich is light and massively hot.

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