Lance Bass can handle the heat—so he claims. "I love the heat, I love some spice," he declares in Going Off the Menu, a digital series hosted by Graham Elliot that explores Los Angeles' underground food scene. Lance, who grew up near New Orleans, is pretty confident he can handle the spicy food he's about to sample.
But can he handle noshing on grasshoppers? At Salazar, a Mexican restaurant with special off-the-menu dishes that only those in the know order, he's put to the test. While the restaurant is known for its kick-ass carne asada tacos, Graham and Lance also order the "secret stash," which includes ultra spicy ghost pepper salsa topped with fried grasshoppers.
The infamous ghost pepper is one of the hottest in the world, registering a whopping 1 million Scoville units (a jalapeño is only 10,000 Scoville units). "Holy moley!" Lance exclaims when he bites into a taco garnished with a healthy dollop of salsa. "The left side of my tongue is really killing right now!"
He's into the crunchy grasshoppers, too. "That is amazing!" he exclaims, taking several more bites and declaring the ghost pepper his "new favorite pepper."
Lance and Graham with chef Esdras Ocha at Salazar
The heat test continues when Lance and Graham go on a wild crab chase, ending up in a deserted car wash parking lot after dark. After some cryptic instructions, they track down cook Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen, hiding in the trunk of an SUV with an aluminum pan full of his spicy Singapore chili crabs. Lance and Graham dig in with their hands—no plates or utensils necessary. It's saucy, garlicky, and aromatic, and with a variety of Thai chiles in the dish, there are "all these different flavors going on that makes the dish explosive with heat," Graham explains.
"This has been an incredible culinary experience," Lance says, adding that he can't wait to bring friends back.
Lance and Graham with chef Nguyen Tran from Crab Club
He's passed the ghost pepper and the spicy crab test. But can Lance handle the heat in Compton?
Lance and Graham head over to Trap Kitchen, a takeout and catering business started by two former warring gang members who joined forces and are now cooking up some of the best chicken and waffles in the 'hood (Snoop Dogg is a fan!). Lance bites into his fried chicken and his blueberry waffle and spontaneously busts out some dance moves, it's that good. "I got myself a couple of to-go boxes," Lance admits later.
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We don't blame him. After all, if Snoop can order up 30 plates of Trap Kitchen's chicken and waffles at once, the least Lance can do is snag a couple of extra portions.
Bravotv.com’s digital series Going Off the Menu takes viewers on an exclusive culinary adventure as host Graham Elliot uncovers the most delicious offerings within Los Angeles’ underground food scene. From a secret supper club serving smuggled cheeses to an eight-course liquid dinner, join Lance Bass, Cheryl Burke, Reza Farahan, and more as they give fans the secrets to unlock these extraordinary food experiences.
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