Last Updated: May 8, 2017
Can’t get enough of that numbingly shiok bowl of Mala? If you’re simply craving for this spicy dish when you’re in town then have a go at Shan Ji Fragrant Hot Pot (山鸡麻辣香锅) at Cineleisure’s Koufu foodcourt.
At first glance, this may look like just any other Mala Xiang Guo stall but they offer something a little something extra, in terms of flavour and choices of premium ingredients. Catering to local taste buds, they have also made it a point to ensure that the dishes are less oily and easy on the salt.
Everyone who has tried the dish before knows the standard procedure of customising each bowl of Mala to your liking. With a wide variety of steamboat ingredients such as, meat, vegetables and noodles to choose from, you can pick as much as you want and pay for them according to the weightage.
What’s special about Shan Ji is the fact that they carry premium ingredients that most Mala stalls don’t have. At the moment, it includes fresh seafood such as, mussels, dory fillet, prawns, cuttlefish and many more.
The owner shared with us that the ingredients are brought in on a seasonal basis and are ever changing, depending on what’s fresh at the market. Sometimes, they also decide on what to bring in based on customers’ feedback and preferences.
Another kind of ingredient that is rather unique would be the offals including, pig and cow stomach, which I’m sure some will thoroughly enjoy.
And, although it may seem as if they are already well stocked up, the owner is thinking of redesigning the store front with plans to bring in an even wider selection of ingredients.
Looking at all the ingredients on display, we were simply spoilt for choice but decided to settle for Mala staples such as, Kelp ($2.20/100g), Potato ($1.20/100g), Mushroom ($2.20/100g), Instant Noodles ($1.20 per piece) and Bok Choy ($1.20/100g).
In addition, we also went for the more exclusive items including, Pig Stomach, Chicken Fillet and Cow Stomach (all $3/100g), as well as, seafood options like, Cuttlefish, Prawn and Mussels ($1.20 per piece).
Customising our preferred level of spiciness, we had the option of Extra Hot, Hot, Mild, Less Spice and No Spice. We went for mild spice for the Fragrant Stir-fry, as we wanted something that was moderately spicy but wasn’t overwhelming so.
The dry version of the dish was extremely flavourful and tasted strongly of Sze Chuan spices and rightly so, because we were told that the sauce itself is made from 30 kinds of herbs and ingredients.
The flavours of the seafood ingredients were further enhanced by the spices. Needless to say, we wolfed down the entire bowl with no effort at all.
Being mindful of the different palates customers might have, the store also offers non-spicy soup options to those who really can’t take the heat. This might be one of the first Mala stalls I’ve come across that actually incorporates this concept into their menu.
So if you’re not one for spicy dishes, the Pork Bone Broth is just the thing for you.
Boasting a milkish white hue, the broth itself was rich and tasted distinctly of pork bone. According to the chef, the strong flavours are the result of boiling the pork bones and leaving them to simmer over a long period of time. There was also a hint of sweetness to it, probably from the wolf berries.
Here’s a Mala broth that you can actually slurp up! Try the Spicy Mala Broth if you are a fan of the soupy version but have always been worried that it will be hard to down; this might just change your mind.
Using his very own secret recipe, the chef manages to whip up a spicy broth that is a combination of pork bone and Mala sauce. This is excellently executed as the taste of both blends in so well together, and yet, doesn’t compromise on the spiciness of the Mala.
For those who aren’t too keen on selecting your own ingredients, you can always opt for the following set meals that are available:
Economic Set for 1 Pax ($6.80): Choose from chicken, pork or fish
Classic Set for 2 Pax ($13.80): Choose any 2 from chicken, pork or fish + 1 bag of enoki mushroom
Supreme Set for 3 Pax ($21.80): Prawn + chicken + pork + fish + 1 bag of enoki mushroom
*Set meals include: Chicken hotdog, crab stick, sotong ball, meatball, Chinese cabbage, green vegetables, seasonal vegetables, black fungus, mushroom, beancurd, served with rice and soup of the day.
While there are no shortage of Mala stalls islandwide, Shan Ji Fragrant Hotpot 山鸡麻辣香锅 is most definitely one of those that stands out from the rest. Try it and you’ll see why!
Expected Damage: $6.80 onwards