November 22, 2016
Mala (麻辣) is a spicy and numbing sauce originating from China, particularly the Chong Qing and Si Chuan region, which has now found a home in Singapore. Consisting of chilli pepper and various herbs and spices, it is simmered in oil before being served.
Mala hot pot dishes can be customised according to one’s preferences – patrons can pick from a wide selection of ingredients most commonly used in steamboat including meat, seafood and vegetables. Sometimes, the level of spiciness can be adjusted as well.
Whether you prefer the stir-fry or soup version, the chilli laden gravy is sure to numb your senses and have you addicted. Available not just in restaurants, this Chinese delicacy can be found in hawkers and food courts as well.
Here are some numbingly good mala hot pots in Singapore where you can indulge in this spicy dish and quell your hunger pangs:
Situated within Star Vista, The Kitchen is a food court that houses a great mala xiang guo stall. Avoid long queues at other places and indulge in a savoury bowl of spicy goodness here.
Mala Stir-Fry ($15-$25)
Opting for the usual suspects in the mala stir-fry mix, we had egg noodles, potato and kelp slices along with several bamboo shoots. Comparatively pricier to other mala joints, with vegetables costing $0.80 per 100g onwards, meat at $2.80 and seafood at $3.80, ensure you don’t over-order.
Address: The Star Vista, 1 Vista Exchange Green #02-25/26 Singapore 138617
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Tucked snugly in the Chinatown area, Si Wei Mao Cai is well-known for their authentic Sichuan cuisine jam packed with a large amount of chilli peppers. Their dishes tend to be on the oilier spectrum but will definitely satiate any cravings you have for mala-based dishes.
Mala Xiang Guo ($24++)
Laden with fiery chilli, their mala dishes are best ordered at a medium spice level unless you are comfortable with extra spice. With the option to choose between their various ingredients, the pot is sizeable and good for sharing with another person. Slurp up the soup if you dare.
Address: Si Wei Mao Cai, 33 Mosque Street, Singapore 059511
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (11.00am – 10.20pm), Saturday & Sunday (11.00am – 12.00am)
Located along the stretch of mala hotpot stalls at People’s Park Food Centre, Mala Xiang Guo Ju serves a robust mala gravy that is said to contain more than 20 herbs and spices altogether.
Mala Stir-Fry ($8-$15)
Not charging based on weight as is the standard practice, you pay for the amount of servings you choose. Prices of vegetables are $1 onwards, meats at $2 and seafood at $3. Personal favourites of mine are the pork slices, taiwan sausages and kelp. Seasoned with nuts and sesame seeds, they make for a great combination when tossed around in the mala paste.
The spice does take awhile to kick in for this joint so if you prefer a milder taste, this is the one for you.
Address: People’s Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road 01-1048 Singapore 050032
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Established as one of the first restaurants to introduce mala into their hotpots, Chong Qing has been running for quite a number of years now. Their tongue numbing mala and fresh ingredients are what keeps them going strong till this day.
Hot Pot ($21.90 – $37.90++ per pax)
Popular servings to go with the mala soup would definitely be their shrimp, hand-made chicken balls and savoury dim sum among many others. If that’s not enough to satiate your hunger, special condiments like abalone and lobster are also up for grabs in the a la carte section of their menu.
Address: 19 Tanglin Road #04-06/07, Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore 247909
Opening Hours: 12pm-3pm & 6-10.30pm daily
Popular for their extensive steamboat selection and top-notch service, Hai Di Lao is a hot favourite among many locals. Best known for their Sichuan spicy hot pot, their soup base is sure to numb your senses and have you craving for more.
Hot pot ($45 per pax)
With more than twenty types of condiments to choose from, including handmade scallops and beef balls, you will certainly be spoilt for choice. As always, the spiciness of their broth can be adjusted to your preference. Go for their fiery soup base if you’re game.
I would highly suggest you go for their hand-pulled noodles which is made on the spot by a noodle master who theatrically whips the noodles into shape before serving them to you. Due to high demand, there is a long waiting time before you can get seated so do make reservations beforehand.
Opening Hours: 10:30am to 6am daily
Address: 313 @ Somerset, 313 Orchard Road #04-23/24, Singapore 238895
Boasting more than a 100 outlets across Asia, Tanyoto has become one of the most popular steamboat chains from Sichuan. With quality ingredients and an extensive menu that features all types of meat, seafood and vegetables, they are definitely a go-to destination for a mouth-watering steamboat.
Hot Pot ($40 per pax)
There are a wide variety of soup bases made in-house from fresh ingredients accompanied with a whole range of sauces from sesame paste to satay dips. The only downside is that the prices are slightly steeper, but for their authentic Sichuan fare and premium food selection, it is well worth the money.
Address: 177 River Valley Rd, Liang Court, Singapore 179030
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 3.00pm, 5.30pm – 3.30am (Daily)
Famous in the Boat Quay area for their traditional fare, Tong Fu Ju specialises in spicy seafood dishes from the Sichuan region.
Chargoal Grilled Live Fish ($32.80 – $36.80)
Their house special is the charcoal grilled live fish with different fish options to choose from; Sea Bass, Patin, Garrupa or Besugo. Eight different flavours are also available for the broth. Obviously, we went with the Hot & Spicy Mala broth.
To top it off, we added potatoes, vermicelli and seaweed ($2.90 each) as our sides.
Address: 50 Boat Quay, Singapore 049839
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday & Sundays (11.30am – 10.30pm), Friday & Saturday (11.30am – 2am)
Nestled within JEM shopping mall, Cookhouse’s Mala Xiang Guo is by far one of the best Mala Hot Pots I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.
Mala Stir-Fry ($10 – $18)
After a day of shopping, this is the perfect place to indulge in an addictively flavoursome bowl of mala. Ingredients are charged based on their weight and stir-fried together in the piquant and tangy mala sauce.
My suggestion is to go for the maggi mee noodles instead of the usual rice bowls. You’ll be amazed by how great it tastes. As this is a popular mala stall among the Westies, be prepared for long queues during peak hours!
Address: 50 Jurong Gateway Road, #05-01 Jem Cookhouse, Singapore 608549
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm daily
One of the first mala hotpot eateries in Singapore, Ri Ri Hong is so popular that it has two outlets situated at People’s Park Food Centre just to cater to the crowd.
Not only is their hot pot reasonably priced, but they also charge based on the serving portions instead of the weight of the ingredients which most stalls usually do. Their vegetables, meat and seafood are $1, $2 and $3 respectively.
Mala Stir-Fry ($11 – $20)
Fried in a wok, the spiciness can be adjusted according to your tastebuds (mild, moderate, spicy or extra spicy). Tossed around in ingredients of your choosing and more than twenty herbs and spices, their mala is a must order for fans of this dish.
One serving is good to be shared by two people, perhaps with a bowl of rice to go with. Do be wary of the ridiculously long queues during dinner time.
Address: People’s Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road #01-1042 & #01-1052 Singapore 050032
Opening Hours: 11am to 9pm daily
And finally, the top of my list would be Long Qing restaurant. Priding themselves in various soup bases that are 100% free of MSG and made from scratch, it doesn’t get any better than this.
In addition to their delicious hotpot, their restaurant is decked out in super hip furnishings complete with concrete walls painted thematically and tastefully.
Hot Pot Set ($55 – $65)
For the divided bowl, we selected a mala broth on one side and wild mushrooms on the other. The spicy mala was numbingly satisfying as our meats and vegetables absorbed the spice when dipped into the piping hot soup. The wild mushroom was an excellent palate cleanser as well.
Their luncheon meat ($6.80), potato noodles ($3.80) and crispy beancurd skin rolls ($6.80) are strongly recommended.
Perfect for an intimate dinner setting with your loved ones.
Address: LongQing 隆庆, 18 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059661
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (5.30pm – 11pm), Closed on Mondays