Vietnamese people love all things Korean. I’m not sure how many Koreans would vouch for the authenticity of this dish, everyone in Da Nang is going crazy for Mỳ Cay Hàn Quốc – spicy Korean noodles. These places are popping up everywhere! They all follow a similar model, where you order your noodles and then what level of spicy you want, usually ranging from one to seven. I decided to get on the bandwagon and try some ‘my cay spicy noodles’.
My Cay Spicy Noodles
I sat down at the restaurant and had a quick read through the menu. At the top of the page (possibly in jest but I honestly don’t think so) there’s a warning for expectant mothers not to go above level two. That should have been my first clue. I really like spicy food, and I’d say I have a pretty high spicy tolerance. But I also wanted to make sure I would be able to finish my lunch and not embarrass myself in the restaurant, so ordered a bowl of noodles at Level Five. The waitress warned me: “Cấp năm cay quá anh ơi!” – Level Five is really spicy dude! She wasn’t lying.
The first bite was definitely really spicy. After the shock wore off, I was able to keep going pretty well. But the thing about eating food like this is that the burn just keeps building. My nose started running like crazy. I had to suppress a cough a few times. This stuff was spicy! Prior to this I’d only started sweating from spicy food twice in my life: once eating a bowl of Sichuan noodles in Hong Kong, and once at an Indian place in Saigon. This was the third; sweat began forming on my temples and forehead. At no point did I ever think I wouldn’t be able to finish, but there was a sense of relief as I neared the bottom of the bowl. I’m always that guy who leaves nothing in the bowl. With these ‘my cay spicy noodles’, I just couldn’t bring myself to drink the broth. I passed the spicy test, but just barely.
After finishing, I took a few minutes to gather myself, dab my brow and wait for the fire in my mouth to dissipate. And the curious thing is, it went away pretty quickly. As intense as the spice level was mid-bowl, by the time I got on my bike it was a gentle smolder at best. I’d be up for going back, but I don’t think I’ll be graduating to Level Six or Seven anytime soon. Level Five my cay spicy noodles suites me just fine, thanks.
These shops are popping up everywhere in Da Nang, but I went to Naga at 307 Nguyễn văn Linh. A competing shop just a few doors down offers 12 levels of spicy.