Versus: Fire & Rice

A battle of heat at Moshi Moshi and Maneki.

The Dish: A guy walks into a sushi bar and asks, "What's the spiciest roll on your menu?" The server says, "I don't know, but Dinah might." Dynamite, get it? Seriously, though, we had the desire to singe our palates over the weekend and ventured to a couple of sushi joints to get our fix. Specifically, we ordered the spiciest sushi roll at two different restaurants. What we discovered is that every sushi place in town has a different interpretation of "spicy." Regardless, we got our hot fix and we got it good.The Rivals: Moshi Moshi, 5324 Ballard Ave. N.W., 971-7424. We were ready to order the spicy tuna roll during all-day happy hour on Sunday, but then we spotted the Redhot Roll ($9) and ordered both. The spicy tuna, while spicy, doesn't hold a candle to the Redhot Roll, which comes with an abundance of spicy red crab, red jalapenos, cilantro, avocado, and tobiko. What makes a red jalapeno red, you ask? Basically, it's nothing special—jalapenos turn red when left to fully ripen on the vine. The portions were chopstick-friendly and had a great texture that squelched our hunger for both crunch and chewiness. Though the Redhot Roll didn't need it, we enjoyed the taste even more after a quick dunk in a wasabi/soy sauce mixture.Maneki, 304 Sixth Ave. S., 622-2631. The Spicy Tuna Roll ($4.75) is exactly the same as the Sassy Salmon Roll, but with raw tuna instead of salmon. However, when we asked our server what the spiciest roll on their menu was, she exclaimed, "Spicy tuna!" as if we had just escaped from Idiot Island. We were skeptical when we saw the roll described as "five stars HOT!" on the menu, but were overwhelmingly convinced after shoving the second bite-sized lump of rice into our mouth. The Spicy Tuna Roll burned our collective face off. The burn of the chili sauce was evident immediately, but not until we dove into our second helping did the heat grab hold of our mouth and not let go. Thank goodness for the cooling green onions and radish sprouts. Oh, and the giant bottle of Sapporo we used as a fire extinguisher along this sushi journey.The Champ: When you want a roll that's both spicy and complex, head to Moshi Moshi. The Redhot Roll has all the elements: heat, texture, taste, and visual appeal. True, it's not as spicy as its challenger, but it's the roll we'd prefer to eat again. Maneki brings the heat, but Moshi Moshi brings the spice and everything else that's nice.jperry@seattleweekly.com

 
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