Warm Up With These Hot Dishes 

The “Bloody Valentine” from Kwik Chek.

Justin Fox Burks

The “Bloody Valentine” from Kwik Chek.

Winter is (supposedly) coming. If you can't get a fire going in your fireplace, you can at least get one going in your mouth. Hot wings and Gus's spicy chicken are good places to start, but we've got some other dishes worth seeking out.

I'm considering petitioning the courts to make it legal to marry soup. Specifically, Shang Hai's tofu curry soup, also known as T12 for its position on their Thai menu. Made with red curry and coconut milk, it is creamy and soothing. And spicy! If you ever feel a head cold coming on, this soup is for you. It opens up your sinuses and makes you feel gooood. Served with rice and full of lots and lots of tofu, it'll fill you up too. If the curry is too much for you, the tom yum soup is a great alternative. It's a bit lighter and more citrusy, but still packs a punch.

Shang Hai, 1400 Poplar, 722-8692

click to enlarge The curry tofu (red) and tom yum from Shang Hai. - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • The curry tofu (red) and tom yum from Shang Hai.

Move over kale, cauliflower is the next big thing in vegetables. The Honey Chilli Cauliflower at the Curry Bowl is absolutely worth the drive to Hacks Cross. (I have never said that about any other food before.) The Curry Bowl specializes in Southern Indian food, and the Indo Chinese section of the menu is full of delectable and fiery dishes. Battered and deep-fried, the cauliflower florets are coated in honey and chili peppers. The resulting flavor is somewhere between Buffalo chicken and lemongrass tofu. They easily pop into your mouth and light up your taste buds. Fowlatarians should not leave without trying the Chicken 65 (yogurt-marinated chicken with curry leaves and spices), 555-Chicken (pan-fried with cashews, chili, and garlic), Chilli Chicken (fried with ginger, garlic, onion, and bell pepper), and/or the Chicken Lilly Pop (prettiest chicken wings you ever saw). Before you know it, you'll be coming up with reasons to head East.

Curry Bowl, 4141 Hacks Cross,

207-6051

currybowlindiancuisine.com

For one last vegetarian sparkler, head over to Kwik Chek for the Bloody Valentine. Their muffalettas and Bi Bim Bop Burgers typically hog the spotlight, for good reason, but there's more to discover here. The Bloody Valentine is basically the Veggie Delight (hummus, cucumber sauce, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, mushroom, bell pepper, jalapeño, and sprouts in a pita) but with habanero sauce instead of cucumber sauce. Aw, yeah. Once addicted to the habanero sauce, and you will be, go ahead and make your way through the menu, adding it to your order every time. The gyro is a good place to start.

Kwik Chek, 2013 Madison, 274-9293

Feeling saucy, but habanero sauce is too hardcore for you? Cozy Corner and The Bar-B-Que Shop both have killer hot sauces for their 'cue. Los Camales' salsa verde has heat and an amazing flavor. The housemade green sauce at Casablanca is vibrant and hot, also worthy of slathering on everything. Lotus has a homemade pepper sauce that is made from a variety of dissimilar peppers. A dollop usually comes on the side of most dishes.

What are you waiting for? Warmth is just a bite away.

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