Spicy food enthusiasts like me will find themselves helplessly drawn to the devilishly hot indulgence that is Mala Xiang Guo (mala stir-fry pot).
But no matter how addictive Mala can be, I always hope for the best whenever I try out a new stall because let’s face it, every stall seems to have differing standards of spiciness.
Lucky for you I’ve hunted down 10 Mala Xiang Guo hawker stalls and have pitted them against one another in terms of price and spiciness for this list.
For the uninitiated, Mala Xiang Guo comes in four spice levels: xiao la (a little spicy), zhong la (moderately spicy), da la (very spicy) and te la (extra spicy). For the sake of consistency, I have ordered zhong la at all stalls.
1. Ma La Xiang Guo (Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre)
This one’s a personal favourite of mine, which is why I had to put it right at the top of the list. Easties will be glad to hear that this Ma La Xiang Guo store is located just a stone’s throw away from Bedok MRT, in a corner of Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre.
It’s hard to miss because you can usually find queues snaking around their stall from 6pm to 9pm (yes, the queue doesn’t clear until then!).
If you’re patronizing them during that time frame, then be prepared for a 30- to 45-minute wait, but trust me when I say it’s worth it.
Unlike most other Mala stalls that charge ingredients by their weight, this stall goes by a portion system instead and has fixed prices for each portion, so naturally, that makes it more affordable than usual stalls.
Apart from the typical rice and instant noodles, they also have the option of getting your carbs in the form of Man Tou buns, and you can bet they make for absolutely yummy dippers.
Another reason why I particularly love this stall is because of their quail’s eggs. I haven’t been able to find any other Mala Xiang Guo stall with quail’s eggs on their menu. You’d be surprised at how amazing boiled quail’s eggs go with the numbingly spicy sauce.
Expected Damage: $6 – $9 per pax
Ma La Xiang Guo: #01-48, 208B New Upper Changi Road, Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre, Singapore 462208 | Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Daily)
2. Tian Tian Xiang Shang (Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre)
Amidst the hype of increasingly popular stalls at the new Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, let’s not forget the good ol’ Mala Xiang Guo stall.
While you’re busy checking out the new Pasir Ris Hawker Centre, be sure to give Tian Tian Xiang Shang some love too!
I found this particular Mala Xiang Guo less oily and salty than usual, so that’s a huge plus point if you’re watching your waistline.
However, I found that the zhong la spice level wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped it to be, and was even less spicy than xiao la from some other stalls.
This Mala stall also goes by a price-per-portion system, with vegetables at $1 per portion, chicken and pork at $2 per portion and beef, mutton and seafood at $3 per portion. The huge bowl above only cost me $9.50 (additional $0.50 to take away), and fed three of us. it’s safe to say this is one of the cheapest Mala Xiang Guo stalls around.
Expected Damage: $4.50 – $7 per pax
Tian Tian Xiang Shang: #02-21, 110 Pasir Ris Central, Singapore 519641
3. 57 Degrees Ma La Xiang Guo (Pasir Ris MRT)
Located right below Pasir Ris MRT Station, this one wins hands down in the convenience aspect. 57 Degrees Ma La Xiang Guo is difficult to miss with their huge yellow sign, and brands themselves as a place that serves a taste of home (translated from the tagline on the signboard).
Admittedly, they don’t have that wide a spread — you can probably tell from the small refrigerator in the corner of the picture above.
However, your basics are all there: potato, lotus roots, kang kong, broccoli, beef, chicken, pork and various types of noodles, so if you aren’t picky with your ingredients it’ll still suffice.
The portion was pretty average, and I wasn’t that wowed by the flavours either because it didn’t have that numbing nor fiery sensation which we seek whenever we reach for a bowl of Mala.
I must commend them for their speedy preparation time though, I barely waited five minutes before I was served. It was overall a pretty mediocre bowl of Mala Xiang Guo, but it’s great if you’re rushing for time whilst trying to get your Mala fix.
Expected Damage: $9 – $11 per pax
57 Degrees Mala Xiang Guo: 10 Pasir Ris Central Singapore 519634 | Tel: +65 9762 2347
4. Ding Ding Hong Mala Xiang Guo (Maxwell Food Centre)
Maxwell Food Centre has always been one to watch with the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Hainanese Curry Rice stalls, and now there’s one more to pay a visit to the next time you’re there.
With fiery red stall signs, Ding Ding Hong Mala Xiang Guo definitely has an exterior that matches the burning intensity of their food.
They even have a spiciness indicator on their storefront and unlike many Mala Xiang Guo stalls, they offer a “no spicy” option. So that’s great news if you’ve been begging that one friend who has a low tolerance to spicy food to try your latest craze, and they have no excuse to decline.
It came with the standard toppings of parsley, peanuts and sesame seeds. The portion was pretty big, and I felt fuller than usual after this bowl of Mala.
The zhong la however wasn’t that spicy, and I left feeling like I should’ve gone with the da la instead. Perhaps next time?
Expected Damage: $9 – $11 per pax
Ding Ding Hong Mala Xiang Guo: #01-41, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184 | Tel: +65 9168 2851
5. You Ma You La (Various Outlets)
Don’t worry about missing out on this one because they have outlets in Ang Mo Kio, Woodlands, Bugis, and the latest one in Toa Payoh.
Building an expanding brand for themselves, You Ma You La is generally consistent in terms of their standards.
I love that every time I pay them a visit, I never have to wait too long because they prepare their meals pretty quickly. My favourite outlet would be the Bugis one, tucked away in a small fork along Bugis Street.
I find that You Ma You La‘s Mala bowls can be rather salty on their own, so I recommend having them with a bowl of rice. It comes with quite a lot of sauce too so you can use the rice to soak up the flavours.
Not too oily, You Ma You La has always been my to-go place whenever I need to satisfy my Mala cravings in town after a day of shopping.
Expected Damage: $7 – $10 per pax
You Ma You La: Toa Payoh Outlet: Blk 183 Toa Payoh Central #01-316, Singapore 310183 | Tel: +65 9732 3419
Ang Mo Kio Outlet: S-11 Food House, 51 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, 569922
Woodlands Outlet: S-11 Food Court, Blk 304 Woodlands Street 11, Woodlands, Admiralty, 730304 Singapore
Bugis Outlet: 3 New Bugis Street, #03-01, 188867
6. Zhen Pin Hong Mala Hotpot (Yishun Park Hawker Centre)
Just three bus stops down from Yishun MRT, Zhen Pin Hong Mala Hotpot is one of the first stalls you’ll see upon stepping into Yishun Park Hawker Centre.
I’ll be honest – I wasn’t expecting much because they appeared to be just like another Mala Xiang Guo stall that you see along hawker centres.
Upon collecting my bowl, the portion left me a little disappointed so that didn’t help my first impression of it either.
However, when I took my first bite, I was sold almost immediately. The strong flavours hit my taste buds like a truck (the good kind) and I can easily say that it’s one of the tastiest Mala bowls I’ve ever had.
My favourite component was the broccoli because it soaked up the spicy flavours of the Mala seasoning so well; they were like tiny bursts of happiness every time I went in for a bite.
The only thing I regret about this meal was not ordering more. I wanted a second bowl so badly after finishing this so you can be sure that I’ll be back, and this time with one or two (or five, who knows) more ingredients in my bowl.
Expected Damage: $8 – $10 per pax
Zhen Pin Hong Mala Xiang Guo: 51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-38 Yishun Park Hawker Centre Singapore 768867
7. Ma-La Hot Pot (People’s Park Complex Food Centre)
If you’ve noticed by now, the famous Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo didn’t make it into this list because I personally find their Mala stir-frys pretty watered down, and hence I’m not really a huge fan.
I do, however, find their other Mala counterpart, Ma-La Hot Pot, at People’s Park Complex worth a shot.
Seemingly the underdog, Ma-La Hot Pot does serve a mean bowl of numbing goodness, and their portions did not disappoint either.
As usual, I picked out pork belly, instant noodles, mushroom, lotus root, seaweed and Fen Tiao (what people usually mistake for tang hoon).
I was pleasantly surprised at the generous serving sitting in my colleague’s hands as he carried it over. I also found that their zhong la was spicier than usual because they were pretty generous with the peppercorns, so if you want to go easy on the spice you might want to play it safe and go with xiao la instead.
While the age-old debate still stands over which is the better Mala Xiang Guo stall, I’ll take a stand and declare my allegiance to this one.
Expected Damage: $8 – $10 per pax
Ma-La Hot Pot: 32 New Market Road, #01-1048 People’s Park Complex Food Centre, Singapore 050032
8. Mala Xiang Guo (Clementi Food Pavilion)
This one’s for the Westies out there. If you’ve ever tried convincing your friends to travel to your hood to grab a meal but to no avail, I’m here help you bait your Mala-loving friends over.
I was rather impressed by the spread here at Food Pavilion‘s Mala Xiang Guo – they even had fish maw and sotong, which you don’t usually find.
I also noticed that quite a number of their customers were students, probably because of their relatively low prices.
This cost around $14 for a two persons’ share, so rest assured that your meal isn’t gonna burn both your tongue and a hole through your wallet.
Expected Damage: $7 – $10 per pax
Mala Xiang Guo: 443 Clementi Avenue 3, Singapore 120443
9. Mala Hotpot (Bedok 85)
This Mala Hotpot was an accidental find for me during one of my late night food hunts around the hood. If you’re an Eastie, chances are you’ve found yourself at Bedok 85 during your midnight hunger pangs.
To me, any time’s a good time for Mala – yes, even just before bed. If you’ve been hunting for a place to get that suppertime spiciness, Bedok 85’s got you covered.
I was shocked at how affordable it was too — this whole bowl cost me $7 and I even found quail’s eggs as well, which was a huge plus point for me.
Their zhong la was spicier than usual so I recommend going for the xiao la if your stomach isn’t up to it.
Expected Damage: $6 – $8 per pax
Fragrant Hotpot:85 Bedok North Street 4, Singapore 460085 | Opening Hours: 10am – 2am (Mon – Sat); 10am – 12midnight (Sun)
10. Mala Hotpot (SingPost)
I know this isn’t exactly a hawker stall, but this particular stall on the highest floor of SingPost Centre deserves a special shoutout because they serve Halal-certified Mala Hot Pot.
Now you can finally sweat it out with your Muslim friends, and the spice levels here do offer a good kick. I found their zhong la to be a little spicier than usual, so buckle up before you dive in.
Also, it’s located right next to SingPost’s Golden Village Cinema so it’s an ideal place for your pre-movie fire-up.
However, a downside for me was that I found it to be one of the most expensive ones, costing me a good $15.90 for the same ingredients which I usually order. I then realized that they charge $1.50/$3 (depending on the weight) just for the pot base itself, and that could be the one racking up your bill so proceed with caution when you’re portioning your ingredients.
Expected Damage: $12 – $16 per pax
Mala Hotpot: 10 Eunos Road 8, 408600, Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Daily)
So that’s it for my Mala round up for now, if you know any other good Mala Xiang Guo places I’d love to hear about them too!