Hell Night at East Coast Grill

You know you’re in hell when you start crying in the middle of dinner. When you want to howl in pain. When you’re desperately dreading the consequences of your actions. When your table companions laugh amusingly at your misery discomfort, but you can’t join them because you’re sniffling and whimpering and wishing you wore waterproof mascara so that your tears won’t streak it down your red face. I was in hell last Tuesday.

It was Hell Night at East Coast Grill. More specifically, it was Hell Night for attendees of the January Mystery Meet event. I’ve been to Mystery Meet before (at Myers + Chang last year) and I knew I was up for a good time. I easily deciphered this month’s clues (serious heat, really hot, Adam Richman was here, and milk is $5) and I’ve always wanted to attend Hell Night so I bought a ticket immediately.

I went into it fully confident that I can handle ANYTHING. After all, I’ve been bragging about my love for all things spicy. I know my tolerance for heat is higher than most of my friends. (Come on, I’m Asian! We love spice!) I grew up with bushes of siling labuyo, or bird’s eye chili, in my parent’s backyard; during  meals we’ll pluck a few and I’ll crush them in my favorite vinegar dipping sauce. The spicier the dish, the more I like it. So Hell Night, bring it on.

I arrived a few minutes early and found myself seated with some lovely company: Rachel of Fork it Over, Boston! (also the brains behind the awesome Food Bloggers Boston), her partner-in-crime Joel, Tracey of 40 Something Life, and husband-and-wife tandem who traveled all the way from New Hampshire Frank and Adriana.  As soon as we sat down, we were handed a waiver. Yes, a waiver indicating we won’t sue ECG or Mystery Meet for any uh, damages after dinner. Or I think that’s what the waiver was for; I didn’t really read it because I was busy perusing the menu:

2 bombs = mild spice; 8 bombs = crazy spice

Similar to the Boston Brunchers meal at East Coast Grill, there were several appetizers served family style, as well as a choice of entree, plus a sweet ending.

appetizer # 1: Russian Roulette Style Spicy Meatball with Angry Tomato Sauce

Every one at the table gets a mini meatball, and the heat level range from mild to extremely spicy. I was kinda hoping I would get the super spicy one because I wanted some attention but alas, I ended up with a 2-bomb meatball – which I scoffed at, saying it tasted like a half-bomb meatball. Plus the angry tomato sauce didn’t taste angry at all. Rachel and Joel, our Hell Night experts, got the spicy ones.

appetizer # 2: Smokin' Hot Pork Spare Ribs with Real Inner Beauty Hot Sauce

This was my favorite dish of the night. I’ve had this a couple of times before (FYI almost all the items on our Hell Night menu is available on regular nights) and always enjoy it. The pork rib is tender, the guava glaze lends a very subtle sweet flavor, and the Inner Beauty hot sauce – well, it’s definitely very spicy, but it almost has an addicting quality. Even though my tongue was burning, I couldn’t help but get some more sauce from the plate. Hell Night was turning out to be a really good night.

appetizer # 3: Wings of Mass Destruction with Ghost Chili Oil, Aromatic Herbs and Nuoc Cham

This is another dish I’ve had before, and enjoyed as well. As soon as the server set the plate down on our table, I can smell the fiery spices. I took several bites and then… it happened. My eyes started watering up, my nose started getting all runny, and I lost all my hell yeah I like spicy food sassiness.  My pinot grigio wasn’t helping at all, and water was making it worse. My mouth felt like it was about to explode. I wanted to suck at the wet naps. All sorts of thoughts started rushing through my head, like “is it possible to burn taste buds permanently?” and “I want some white rice” to “I knew I should’ve stashed some gummy bears in my purse” and “how the hell did this thing get so spicy??” I still wanted to suck at the wet naps.

then this arrived: manna from heaven

The corn bread saved me. Like how Julia Child pulled Julie Powell from drowning in the ocean, this cornbread pulled me from suffering in hell.

appetizer # 4: Korean Fried Chicken Thigh with Apple Kim Chee and Super Charged Kochujang

Fried chicken thigh with Korean spicy sauce? Why, yes please. This dish was actually rated 4 bombs but I breezed through it without batting a mascara-smudged eyelash. Kochujang is like the Korean version of sriracha; both have the consistency of ketchup. So I used it like I would use ketchup:

I was back in my element

Now at this point, after 1 meatball, 1 rib, 1 wing, and a couple of pieces of thigh, I was already really full. So full that I couldn’t eat more than a bite or two of my entree, which was delicious:

Latin Spice Grilled Mahi Mahi with Hot Spinach and Rice n Beans

But I wasn’t too full for dessert. It was heaven.

Mango Berry Crisp with Fresh Whipped Cream

I really liked being in Hell (Night). I heard the “real” Hell Night, where the whole restaurant participates – instead of a private event – is way more fun, with Dr. Pepper as master of ceremony, loud bantering with everyone, music and yup, $5 glasses of milk. I know that the star of the regular Hell Night is the Pasta from Hell and I have several friends who tried it and are warning me against it, which is making me want to try it even more. So maybe I’ll be back.

Have you been to Hell Night or a similar event? Do you have a Mystery Meet story?

When you desperately wish that there won’t be any consequences the next day.

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