My taste buds and soft palate aren't happy with me. I picked up dinner from a local curry shop last night. CoCo's curry with 300g rice, two breaded pork cutlets, and a small helping of fukujinzuke (pickled mixed vegetables in soy sauce) .
CoCo Ichibanya is a very large chain of fast-food curry houses in Japan, with more than 800 locations between Hokkaido and the Ryukyus (the island chain south of the mainland, including Okinawa). CoCo has a friendly and patient staff (particlularly with us knuckle-dragging U.S. Marine Gai-jin) and great-tasting curry. Dishes can be ordered in varying levels of spiciness, on a scale of 0-10. According to the English-language version of the menu, you have to have ordered (and eaten a full plate) of level-5 spicy curry before they will allow you to order level 6 or above.
Undaunted, I ordered a plate of level 5, got it home and chowed down. I settled myself before the footlocker that serves as my dinner table; tore open the lid of the plate with the zeal that only the best food and an empty stomach can muster; and ate a few large spoonfuls (chopsticks be damned. I was hungry). Then I realized how spicy it was. HOLY. F---ING. DUNG. Within five seconds I was sweating buckets, teary-eyed, frantically digging through my locker for a cup to pour a glass of milk. This was just level 5 spiciness, and I understood the reasoning behind CoCo's ordering policy. It tasted great, but I felt as if I had lit off a WP grenade in my mouth. A cup of milk and a half-pint of Breyer's finally put out the fire.
Being possessed of more machismo than brains, I'm going to keep ordering 5 until I'm ready to move up. Here's to 6!