So in late August 2017, a fellow named Jay from Taiwan told me about a very spicy noodle I should try. I had recently put out the new Top Ten Spiciest Instant Noodles Of All Time for 2017 and was definitely keen on trying anything and everything spicy of course to begin the search for newcomers for the 2018 list.
Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge
18 Prohibited: The Initial Burn
On September 1st, I gave it a go. My experience with anything spicy in the instant noodle realm hailing from Japan was always one of disappointment. Well, I shouldn’t say disappointment – the dishes usually were very tasty, but the heat level just wasn’t very strong at all. What’s more, the package called for 700ml of water to cook the noodles in – one of the highest amount I’ve ever seen for a single serving of noodles. So, thinking it would be a nice one for clearing my sinuses while I had the flu, I delved into it.
As you can see, it was spicy. Real spicy. I figured ‘hey, maybe this is because I have the flu – maybe I can try it again and it won’t hit me as hard.’ The only problem was that I didn’t have access to another one of these packs easily. a guy named Jonathan from Chicago stepped up to the plate – he had a couple extra and shot one my way.
It sat behind my monitor for a few weeks, awaiting its day of glory. I wanted to do it at the right time in order to give it the full attention it deserved.
Training Day 1
I thought maybe I should ‘train’ for this. My plan was to try three fiery varieties in the three days leading up to Friday the 13th in October 2017. First I saw this one on sale in 99 Ranch Market – JML Spicy Hot Beef from China. It was on the inaugural Top Ten Spicy list and I thought that it would definitely be a good one since it had a lot of broth and really burned me up the first time I’d tried it. Well, I really had no problem with this one.
JML Artificial Spicy Hot Beef Flavour Instant Noodles (get it here)
Training Day 2
Next up on the 11th of October was the original Fire Noodle Challenge – the Samyang Foods Buldak Bokkeummyun. Definitely a spicy sucker – it packs the heat. This one doesn’t have a broth with it (despite the myriad of videos I’ve seen of people preparing it incorrectly) and after scarfing it down in under two minutes, it still packed a serious heat that had the inside of my mouth throbbing.Definitely easier to handle than the first time I’d tried it, for sure.
Samyang Foods Buldak Bokkeummyun (get it here)
Training Day 3
Finally, the day before I decided to go with the one I’d put at the top of the 2017 Spiciest list – Samyang Foods’ 2x Spicy Haek Buldak Bokkeummyun. This one is known as the Nuclear Fire Noodle Challenge and it’s certainly not one that I’ve had an easy time with in the past. However, I thought that in addition to eating it fast (I did it in 1 minute, 41 seconds) I would try to do it without reacting to it – no ‘oooh’ or strained facial expressions. The only one I had was when I realized that I hadn’t had anything to drink before the attempt. You see, when I eat a lot of something dry, I almost always get the hiccups – this has happened in quite a few videos and I’ve learned to chug down something beforehand. Well, I forgot. Luckily, I didn’t get the hiccups and was kind of surprised I was able to handle it so easily this time around. In fact, the original fire noodle seemed stronger on the previous day – perhaps my theory of tolerance was working and my dream of conquering the 18 Prohibited would be a reality on the following day.
Samyang Foods 2x Spicy Buldak Bokkeummyun Nuclear Fire Noodle (get them here)
18 Prohibited: The Rematch
So Friday the 13th came. It was a pretty dark and dreary day with some sun breaks. My daughter Miriam was pretty happy – she had a full belly, had her Yo Gabba Gabba playing; the stage was set and I was ready to go. So I cooked up the 18 Prohibited and set forth to conquer the beast – conquer Shai-hulud (yep – Dune reference). Reading further will bring spoilers so watch the video first.
So I had the bowl of 18 Prohibited in front of me. The noodles were very hot but had sat under a fan for a little bit and so I was hoping they’d cooked down somewhat. Personally, I was kind of hoping their physical temperature would be about room temp because boiling hot edibles just aren’t my thing. My mom can drink practically boiling hot coffee but I didn’t receive that genetic gift.
I felt confident I could do this; I’d trained. I also have experience with spicy stuff for years. In fact, many of you don’t know, but after about 60 reviews between 2002 and 2003 or so, I switched to hot sauce. Saucerater was borne out of necessity. I was on the Atkins Diet back then and it was very restrictive of carbohydrates, something instant noodles are full of but spicy sauces are not.
So, it was time. I took my first bite. Definitely had the taste of fiery peppers – Jonathan informed me that he saw something mentioning the Bhut Jolokia or ‘Ghost Pepper’ and that 18 Prohibited was full of it. I’ve always found that habanero pepper has a kind of funky – almost chemical taste to them. This was no different. I got the initial kick of spiciness and kept going. Bite after bite, the heat climbed. I thought perhaps that if I just keep shoveling this awful stuff into my pie hole that it would level out and then I could chug down the broth and be done with it.
As the noodles became less and less, they seemed to be more broth covered; wetter. I never got so far as to actually slurp the soup. I was conquered. Beaten. I had failed. About three minutes in I threw in the towel (or napkin as it were) and declared it the spiciest instant noodle I’ve ever had. Samyang Foods’ 2x Spicy was just violently spicy stuff, but this took it to a completely new level. My mouth was on fire – and once again, my gut was wrenched in a kind of death struggle. It definitely was not happy. I ran to the kitchen to snag a little chunk of brownie we had and chugged a ton of liquid. Usually, I can hold my own and let the fire finally fizzle out, but this time I did have that urgent need to drink something.
The heat lasted for about 45 minutes and then my lips were just numb for about another 15 minutes. I sent my wife Kit a picture – she said they looked puffy and swollen. This was Friday the 13th and I made the attempt to eat a nightmare.
18 Prohibited (Get them here)
In the hours afterward, my gut wrenched a bit a couple of times but eventually stopped. As a kind of parting gift from the whole experience, I noticed I had a slightly sore throat about 2 or so hours afterward. I’m writing this post at 6 am on the 14th and I’m sick. Sneezing, watery eyes, loads of snot. My son had a runny nose for the past couple of days so I guess the universe decided it was time for me to get a cold.
Despite being knocked down by a package of noodles from Japan, this was a really fun little journey. Honestly, I never expected something from Japan to be on the spicy list – definitely will be next year. I will again say as I did with the 2x Spicy that I don’t think there will ever be anything spicier than this one but I certainly ended up being wrong the last time I said that. I will say this – the 2x Spicy tastes leaps and bounds better than this one does. This one will get zero stars; it’s just foul and horrific. A perfect one to try leading up to Halloween.