Caution Hot! Noodle House Gives You the Freedom to Customize the Heat in Your Bowl of NoodlesMay 15, 2015
Along the north’s nucleus of restaurants, along what we know to be the sizzling street called Maginhawa, lays a hollow we found to be Caution Hot! Spicy Noodle House. Despite the noontime summer scorch, we wound up here.
Upon the large glass window in vinyl stickers read Chinese noodles have never been this hot! The chalkboard wall at the entrance asks in bold, pink letters: “How much heat can you take?” Here lay at our feet a blatant and newfound challenge. Here was a venture in which we were to discover the bite of a boiling broth, the tolerance of our tongues. “You’re cool with trying out the spiciest level right?” one of us said. I nodded. And hence, we placed our orders. I, for one, was merely armed with a bottomless glass of soymilk and the fleeting courage to test the highest available level of hotness. We tried out all three broths and varying levels of spiciness on the menu. The prices varied according to the toppings.
But first, we got some kuchay pork dumplings as an appetizer. The taste was acceptable yet needed more of a crunch. It was almost too soft a texture—the bite was a slight mush of finely minced pork and chives.
There was first beef (PHP 185), which we ordered with the classical broth that, unfortunately, lacked a customizable hotness level. Out came the non-spicy broth. The egg noodles that came with it were long and chewy, giving the feel of something hand-pulled. Caution calls it a classic and unsurprisingly, it lives up to its name as your regular Chinese braised beef noodle soup. The blanched vegetables and the element of ginger almost hit the spot, if not for its need of chili. Next came the seafood topping (PHP 205), which we paired with their Asam Laksa broth and a First Degree Burn hotness level. The fish paste and mix of mushrooms, squid, shrimp, and more fish absorbed the spice. But as all first degree burns go, this one was an easy feat that barely needed recovery.
Once the final noodle dish came out, however, the excitement hit boiling point. We got the vegetarian option with the Szechuan broth (PHP 175), which we made even spicier with the Ultimate Burn level. The soup was a vibrant and spirited shade of red, and its invitingly pungent smell caught our noses. Here’s the real deal: the heat ramen noodles lay innocently a few millimeters below a soup so overrun with chili. Perhaps, it was the way I buffered every bite with soymilk. We felt the spice level to be underwhelming. The broth slid down our throats easily, barely leaving scorch marks. Or so I thought. I felt my tongue catch sparks, the Chinese chili paste lingering for prolonged durations of time as each new bite ensued. However, it only tasted as if it were just one level above First Degree. The liberty that customers enjoy when it comes to customizing their noodle bowls is also a great bonus for people who, like me, enjoy spice but aren’t too daring. We found ourselves surprised at a little secret ingredient, however. Alas, a strand of short hair had strayed into our Szechuan bowl without our knowing. But overall, the concept of the place was endearing, like entering into a clandestine noodle shop in Hong Kong or Chinatown, only the service understands exactly what you’re saying.