"Yesterday I spent the whole day in bed," Random Diessner told Miss Dish. He hadn't been felled by anything so mundane as flu but rather was shot down after eating too much of a good thing--very, very hot Thai food. The 23-year-old PSU student entered

Sweet Basil

's spicy contest last week at the Northeast Broadway location, where he went head-to-head with close to 60 other competitors.

Random (he swears it's his real name) says he was inspired to jump into the game by his girlfriend, who couldn't help but notice his habit of asking for one star over the top at Thai restaurants--they never get to share dishes. "I'm a constant eater of really hot things," he says.

The contest was a breeze in the beginning, Random says: two rounds of eating spicy dishes. Then, Sweet Basil went all Survivor on them with a surprise disqualification round that consisted of seeing who could down a bowl of steaming hot (both ways) soup. "I still have blisters in my mouth," Random reports.

Then came a bowl of stuff so hot (he describes it as two-thirds red pepper) that one of Random's competitor's lost it. "He puked right into the bowl. I was pretty close to hurling at this point, mainly because of all the food in my stomach," he says. A tie-breaker was unfurled--that boiling-hot soup again--and Random grabbed the victory ring. "It was the most prolonged eating of hot things I've experienced," he says, "but it was never too spicy for me."


The long wait is over. Welcome the Mike Quinn/John Plummer bar and nibble emporium called East Chinatown Lounge into the Old Town nightlife continuum; the spot opened this week at 322 NW Everett St. Quinn tells Miss Dish he's calling the area "the Garden District," so named because it's between Magic Garden and the Chinese Gardens.

What's with these La Luna alums and their penchant for renaming parts of the city? First Le Happy's John Brodie with the Bucket, now Quinn with his Garden District. Hey, Chris Monlux: Got a better name for the Stark Street triangle or the Hollywood district? Both are in desperate need of a moniker makeover. Whatever, East is apt to be an engaging haunt for sipping a mai tai and biting a potsticker.


Mint's Lucy Brennan tells Miss Dish that her pan-Latin eatery and drinkery is expanding into the space next door. The expansion will allow a separate lounge for North Portland nightcrawlers. Also on the bill for Ms. Brennan is cocktail-making classes for the 21-and-over set every other Sunday, the next one being Nov. 10 at 3 and 6 pm. Your $50 gets you instruction, a couple of apps and a belly full of liquor. Call 284-5518 to reserve your spot.