A little chill is a fine excuse for a meal with a kick of spice. Get back up to temperature over something steamy, like these worldly wonders from the other side of the globe — right here in Humboldt. Just be responsible with the hot stuff. You have nothing to prove to us.

Peek into the kitchen at Annie's Cambodian (1917 Fifth St., Eureka) and you'll likely glimpse the lady herself cooking up family favorites like lemongrass soup with coconut milk, juicy hunks of pork rib, pineapple and fresh basil ($12.95). Turn up the dial with a few drops of homemade chili oil. Look around the room and you'll see everybody is getting the crispy/creamy, hot cheese puffs, too ($2.25).

Start by dipping and nibbling some plump, crispy coconut shrimp with red curry sauce ($6.95) at Pho Hoang (1390 G St., Arcata). Then take a moment to breathe in the fragrant steam from your bowl of phô ($8.25). Whatever cut of beef you choose will arrive thinly sliced in light broth with the accompanying basil and sprouts. There's Sriracha hot sauce, of course, for those who want to feel the burn.

Instant gratification might pull you toward the lunchtime buffet ($9.99) at Tandoori Bites (1735 Fourth St., Eureka), but those who can hold out, or who come for dinner, would do well to order the spicy lamb rogan josh curry with a side of puffed and delicate naan bread from the tandoor ($11.99), or a great mound of biryani, the deeply aromatic basmati rice with vegetables, spices and (optional) meat ($9.99-13.99).

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal.

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