Pearl Cafe – Spicy Challenge Level 25


So a few days ago, I did something crazy. Big surprise there, right? I mean, you’re talking about a girl who’s eaten fermented herring, beef tongue, and chicken feet!

My latest crazy adventure brought me here:


Pearl Café! You might remember my previous review of Pearl Café, where I practically cried tears of joy over my delicious meal. Pearl Café is, hands down, my favorite Thai place in St. Louis.

Anyway, I returned to Pearl Café a few days ago to participate in their…




What is the spicy challenge, you ask? Well, it’s a heat-oriented challenge (I’m sure you’ve figured that much out!) that customers can participate in. Normally, the spice level in Pearl Café’s dishes are counted in the single digits (1,2,3, etc.) However, for the spicy challenge, you start at level 25 and work your way up in increments of 25 until you hit level 100.

As soon as I heard about the spicy challenge, I knew I had to try it. And since no one wants to do something like this alone, I thought I’d invite a few of my friends from Yelp!


A few were in for the challenge with me, and a few were just along to cheer us on!





I don’t care what anyone says; Yelpers are awesome!


Oh yeah. Winking smile

Once we were all seated, the waitress came over to explain the rules of the challenge.


The rules?

The only drinks allowed were water and beer.

– We had 45 minutes to finish everything on our plate.

No sharing food! We had to eat every morsel ourselves.

We also had to sign a waiver.


This is serious business, folks! Needless to say, the waiver made me super nervous about the challenge. Would it really be that bad?

We ordered our food and waited. I went with the Spicy Thai Fried Rice with Chicken.


Looks pretty harmless, right? I took a big whiff; the spices burned my nose! Here goes nothing! The timer started and I dug in.

The first few bites weren’t bad at all. Don’t get me wrong; it was hot, but it was totally manageable. “I can totally do this!”, I thought.

The the wave of heat kicked in. Oh wow. This is spicy. Super spicy. My eyes were watering. I was SWEATING. And I wasn’t the only one!


We were all in serious pain. I was starting to regret attempting the challenge in the first place, and this was only level 25! I can’t even imagine what 50, 75, or 100 would feel like!

The minutes crept by. With 15 minutes to spare and a quarter of my food left to go, I started getting full. Really full. And let me tell you; feeling full and dealing with a mouth that’s on fire is no fun! But I had come so far, and I wasn’t going to give up!

So…did I finish? Did I complete level 25?



You betcha.

And so did Browning!


And Becca!



This was a fun event, even though it was quite painful. It felt good to complete the challenge, but I’m 98% sure I’m not going to attempt level 50. Level 25 was hard enough!

Aimee, the Yelp St. Louis community manager, was nice enough to give me a special award for organizing the event:


Yelp’s Spice & Bravery Award. Haha…I love it!

A Yelp award and the knowledge that I completed level 25? No need to go any further; I got what I came for!

So tell me: What’s the craziest food-related thing you’ve ever done? Would you attempt the spicy challenge?

  • This is awesome! Well done!!
    When I lived in Mexico, I would have spicy-food competitions with the locals. That was a fun time, for sure! My spiciness tolerance has gone down since living in the States, and especially STL! I probably wouldn’t have been able to make level 25, but I would have tried! 🙂 Can’t believe there’s a level 100, yikes!

    • Anonymous

      ?Thanks Trisha! I bet the spicy food competitions in Mexico were awesome!
      Yeah…the fact that there’s a level 100 blows my mind. I can’t even imagine
      how hot that would be!

      • I actually found level 50 to be less of a challenge than level 25 – but I had the fried rice for 25 like you did. I had the Red Curry for the 50 and besides being a lava-like temperature when it came out it wasn’t too bad. I could actually taste the curry – all I could taste with level 25 was total freakin’ heat. I will attempt level 75 ater a bit of practice and I plan to get the t-shirt! Wish me luck!

        Reed in Sunset Hills

        • Anonymous

          Thanks for the comment, reed! I kinda want to try level 50 now! Maybe I’ll try the curry.

          Good luck with level 75 and beyond!

  • Michelle

    I’m not a spicy food eater, but I do occasionally enjoy the strange foods especially when traveling, however, I have a friend, Cameron, who is a total food contest eater. He won my eternal respect when he ate (the entire plate) of “The world’s spiciest vinadoo” at a restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia. He was sweating, crying, and breathing fire, but finished the plate and even got a t-shirt. I am so jealous.
    Congrats on level 25! I am sure you could have made level 50

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