"Am I crying?" I asked my sister at one point during our meal at Yu Sichuan in Causeway Bay. My face was numb at that point, and I wasn't sure whether I just sweating profusely or tearing up. At one point earlier in the meal, my tongue was en fuego, but now I couldn't even feel my tongue.
There's an expression in Sichuan cuisine called "ma lat," meaning numb-spicy. This is not your quick burn cayenne pepper kind of spicy; the pepperiness of real "ma lat" food slowly takes over your whole mouth and almost paralyzes it. It hurts so good, and I love it, even if pepper oozes from every pore in my body for days afterwards.
Here's documentation of the amount of chili oil in each dish -- and this is what was left over in the dish after we ate it. Oy.
I know it's masochistic, but the whole meal was kind of exhilarating. I don't run unless I'm being chased, but I'm imagining this is probably akin to what it's like to do a marathon: painful in the beginning, numbingly painful in the middle, and numbingly painfully awesome at the end. Then you chug water, curl up in a fetal position, and ask yourself why you are stupid enough to have submitted yourself to such torture.