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Extreme eats: Over-the-top dishes at Long Island restaurants

Are you up to the challenge?

This is about going to extremes -- with food. The biggest, the hottest, the eye-popping, the kind of food that separates Iron Man from Indiana Jones, the merely courageous from the absolutely heroic, the borderline adventurer from the reckless competitor. No chicken breasts allowed.

What's deemed "extreme" always will depend on your perspective, and your experience. As satirist Jonathan Swift, doubtless among others, noted, "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster."

Here are some examples of dishes across Long Island that will test just how bold you are

Selections by Newsday's food staff.

Giant lobster at Jordan Lobster Farms

Giant lobster at Jordan Lobster Farms, Island Park:
Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook

Giant lobster at Jordan Lobster Farms, Island Park: Lobsters typically come in sizes from 1¼ pounds to 4 or 5. At Jordan, you'll find them at 10 pounds.

Chicken hearts at LOL Kitchen & Grill

Chicken hearts at LOL Kitchen & Grill, Centereach:
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Chicken hearts at LOL Kitchen & Grill, Centereach: Northern Chinese street food at this spot includes chicken hearts (and wings for the less daring) along with Chinese chives grilled on skewers.

Whole pig at MP taverna

Whole pig at MP Taverna, Roslyn: You've eaten
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Whole pig at MP Taverna, Roslyn: You've eaten most of the parts before -- the leg, the loin, the shoulder, the belly -- so there's really no reason to feel funny about taking on the whole animal. No steak or roast will ever be as succulent or festive. For special orders, MP Taverna in Roslyn will roast a whole pig, goat or lamb. A whole animal serves 12 to 16 people and comes with side dishes to make up a full meal.

Pineapple loco at Nelly's Taqueria

Pineapple loco at Nelly's Taqueria, Hicksville: The Pineapple
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Pineapple loco at Nelly's Taqueria, Hicksville: The Pineapple loco at this eatery features sliced fruit, Mexican candies and citrus soda dressed with chilli seasoning and lime.

Natto at Nagashima Restaurant

Natto at Nagashima Restaurant, Jericho: The Japanese diet
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Natto at Nagashima Restaurant, Jericho: The Japanese diet is light on dairy, and natto, or fermented soybeans, plays the part of stinky cheese. Natto has a distinct pungency and a slight bitterness, but it's the stringy, gluey texture that beguiles its adherents. Over rice, it's a classic Japanese breakfast.

Grilled cheese cheeseburger at Brixx and Barley

Grilled cheese cheeseburger at Brixx and Barley, Long
Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook

Grilled cheese cheeseburger at Brixx and Barley, Long Beach: Two whole grilled cheese sandwiches take the place of a hamburger bun in this more-than-cheesy cheeseburger. In between the two sandwiches goes a quarter-pound grilled patty topped with yet more cheese as well as caramelized onions, bacon and sliced tomato. Open wide and say cheese.

Nonna's Old World Meat Platter at Ciao Baby

Nonna's Old World Meat Platter at Ciao Baby,
Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Nonna's Old World Meat Platter at Ciao Baby, Commack: Three pounds of meatballs, hot and sweet sausages, lamb and pork shoulder, all in tomato sauce atop 2 pounds of rigatoni. No wonder it was featured on Travel Channel's "Man v. Food."

Cold jellyfish with chili sauce at The Orient

Cold jellyfish with chili sauce at The Orient,
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

Cold jellyfish with chili sauce at The Orient, Bethpage: Sliced into ribbons, jellyfish manages the trick of being both crunchy and gelatinous without a hint of sliminess. The taste is mild to nonexistent, which makes it a wonderful canvas for other flavors. At The Orient in Bethpage, the kitchen tosses it with sesame oil and hot chili sauce and showers it with sesame seeds and cilantro. The only scary part of the dish: the maraschino cherries around the edge of the plate.

Sisig at Asian One Best Grocery

Sisig at Asian One Best Grocery, Ronkonkoma: Filipino
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Sisig at Asian One Best Grocery, Ronkonkoma: Filipino cuisine truly embraces the nose-to-tail ethic, with classic dishes featuring virtually every part of the animal. Sisig is a rich, savory stir-fry that can include any or all of the pig's ears, cheeks, lips or snout. At Asian One Best, the snouts get the nod; the sauce is bound with chicken livers.

Thanksgiving knish sandwich at Press 195

Thanksgiving knish sandwich at Press 195, Rockville Centre:
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

Thanksgiving knish sandwich at Press 195, Rockville Centre: The Pilgrims came to these shores for religious freedom. Around three centuries later, so did the Jews of Eastern Europe. Their traditions meet in this Thanksgiving-themed sandwich featuring a Gabila's square potato knish, sliced open and stacked with turkey, cranberry pear chutney, Fontina cheese and gravy. Only in America.

The Triple Triple 9-patty cheeseburger at Jake's Wayback Burgers

The Triple Triple 9-patty cheeseburger at Jake's Wayback
Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

The Triple Triple 9-patty cheeseburger at Jake's Wayback Burgers, Northport: Measuring about a half-foot tall is this tower of beef featuring nine burgers, nine slices of American cheese and nine layers of lettuce and tomato sandwiched between a bun. Such grandeur demands a certain kind of mouth. A hippo's, perhaps? Surely not a human's.

Monkey brain at Sushi Yume

Monkey brain at Sushi Yume, Williston Park: A
Photo Credit: Barbara Alper

Monkey brain at Sushi Yume, Williston Park: A real monkey brain? Er, not quite. The provocatively named specialty at this Japanese newcomer is actually a cremini mushroom that's filled with cream cheese and spicy tuna before being deep-fried. But if you cut one in half, the resemblance to a monkey brain is reputed to be uncanny.

Doughnut ice cream sandwich at Industry Standard Bar

Doughnut ice cream sandwich at Industry Standard Bar,
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Doughnut ice cream sandwich at Industry Standard Bar, Greenport: The ice cream sandwich for dessert at this spot is decisively distinct. A halved doughnut with a giant scoop of vanilla in between, it's rolled in rainbow sprinkles before serving.

Goat brain masala at Southern Spice

Goat brain masala at Southern Spice, New Hyde
Photo Credit: Barbara Alper

Goat brain masala at Southern Spice, New Hyde Park: In the south of India, says Southern Spice owner Sridhar Rathinam, "they eat mostly chicken, goat and fish -- and they enjoy each and every part." Goat brains are one of the restaurant's signature items and, it turns out, they have a soft, creamy texture and a subtle flavor, more akin to tofu or scrambled eggs than liver or kidneys.

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