Spice is nice -- so why do so many spots in Denver turn down the heat?

Danielle Liritte
Tom yum soup at Mali Thai Cuisine
I don't know about you, but I'm a little surprised by the assumption that Americans can't take the heat. In this week's review of Mali Thai Cuisine, general manager Alex Tongbua didn't come right out and say it, but he did soft-shoe around the point by noting that "American people, some never eat Thai food," which is why "we tend to give things mild."

See also:
- Mali Thai Cuisine: This authentic Thai restaurant should turn up the heat
- Photos: Behind the Scenes at Mali Thai Cuisine
- Coloradans are partial to Santiago's mean green

Is Tongbua right in his assumption, or have we eaten enough jalapeno-spiked salsa and spicy green chile in this town to convince him otherwise?

When you eat Thai food, do you want it mild or are you willing to bump up the heat to medium or hot? In the comments section below, let us know what you think -- and where to get the truly hot stuff in town.

Location Info

Mali Thai Cuisine

4955 S. Ulster St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Mantonat topcommenter

I think that owners of ethnic restaurants have learned from experience that Americans mostly prefer Americanized versions of traditional dishes. It's probably safer to leave out the chiles or pig blood or fermented soy beans than risk having a dish sent back (or risk making a customer unhappy). I have to work pretty hard to convince waiters that I really do want a dish served the same way that it's typically served in whichever region of the world the recipes come from. Restaurant owners are sensitive to the fact that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of squid ink, raw fish, or pig feet, even if they've never tried those things. And many Americans are simply unaccustomed to the intense heat that makes certain dishes so addictive and delicious.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

@Mantonat I agree with much of your comment but I would like to add a qualifier.  It's not the level of heat I mind, it is the use of heat to cover up poor quality food products and unskilled preparation.  I can think of a number of Thai (and Indian) places who have made their fame with melt-your-face-off heat levels but if you dig deeper it is sadly apparent that heat is the only thing they do well and they use it to convince Americans of their authenticity.  Just  because it's hot doesn't make it good.

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