Having just been to Mission Chinese Food (MCF) the week earlier, I had a hankering for some seriously spicy food. When I’m in the ‘I’m not playin” mood when it comes to spicy, I always hit the appropriately named restaurant “Spices” located in the Inner Richmond. Or in my case, Spices II, because it’s a block closer and the menu is actually a bit different.
Tonight, I wanted to so a side by side (almost) comparison of the Sichuan wings I had at MCF, and the (basically) same dish at Spices II. Of course, we ordered more than just that, which reminded that me that Spices II was worth a mention here on D&D for anyone who can stand the heat and stay in the kitchen.
This is the spicy chicken wings. Whereas MCF does their chicken wing style, the chicken here is cut up in small pieces, which is a more traditional preparation. It’s not really fair to compare really. MCF doesn’t proclaim to be authentic Chinese, so much as seriously inspired by Chinese cuisine and utilizing outstanding ingredients. Now, I can’t attest to the quality of the chicken at Spices II (you can imagine they might not be free range), but the spicy chicken wings are quite good. Although lacking a bit of salt, I found the chicken to be deliciously hot. The diced peppers (another difference to Mission Chinese Food, which left them whole) brings the heat of the dish up a few notches, as specks of chili pepper seeds are everywhere and it’d take an hour to de-seed your chicken. We also ended up getting the mapo tofu, which we also ordered at MCF. Whereas MCF goes heavy on the cumin, Spices II goes heavy on the chili oil. As you can see, we did takeout. But note the ring of chili oil rimming the container. That’s heart attack stuff there, folks.We ordered basically a pan fried chow mein equivalent for the kids. Meh. They use those really fat noodles for their chow mein, and I much prefer the thin noodles. But what did I expect? They call themselves Spices, not Chow Mein Kings. Can’t think a neutral dish is going to overwhelm me.And yet somehow we ordered another noodle dish. I think we had some confusion here, trying to order the spicy Mandarin noodle and ended up with this. Definitely not spicy. So word to the wise, take a pass on the noodle dishes, unless they are of the spicy genre.
The gist about Spices II (and Spices I for that matter) is that there are some great finds on the menu, but you have to weed through some just ok dishes to get there. If you’re able, it’s worth going for the spicy hot pot, where you can cook your own food in a broth filled to the brim with simmering red chili peppers.