The mala craze has come and gone, but there’s no doubt that this Sichuan flavour has become a mainstay in our local food scene. If you love the mind-numbing heat and spice, today we’re rounding up some go-to spots for Chongqing/mala hotpot in Singapore. While most hotpot joints all have their own mala broths on the menu, these mala hotpot spots take things up a notch further!
What’s so unique about Tong Xin Ru Yi is their broth. Apart from the fact that there are a whopping 15 different soups to choose from, they don’t just serve the purpose of cooking your choice of raw ingredients. The broths arrive brimming with premium ingredients! For those who are here for the mala hotpot, you will surely enjoy fiery numbers like Stewed Marinated Beef with Spicy Soup, Catfish with Spicy Soup and even the exotic Spicy Rabbit Pot. The broths can also be further customised with any of their three levels of spicy and sour.
Enjoy a two-in-one dining experience at Ma La Kong Jian: Sichuan hotpot and chuan chuan (grilled meat sticks)! Take your pick from over 70 different ingredients, including a variety of fresh seafood such as mud crab and scallops. There are eight different types of broths to choose from, including a Super Spicy signature broth that is simmered for hours on end with a number of fiery spices. The spice-loaded grilled chuan chuan are also a must-try. With seven different meats to choose from, expect addictive bites of well-marinated and fragrant meats.
Established in 2017, Xiao Mu Deng offers authentic Chongqing cuisine in Chinatown. As its name (literally translated to “little wooden stools'') suggests, the interior of the restaurants mimics that of typical old Southwest Chinese décor that are furnished with traditional wooden stools. Take your pick from 10 different soup bases, including the Classic Spicy Soup that mala hotpot fiends will surely enjoy.
Don’t quote us on this, but rumour has it that Upin Hot Pot was established by a former Haidilao employee. Could it just be a comparison due to their similarities in concept? Regardless, Upin Hot Pot is not only a lot friendlier on the budget, but also a shorter waiting time. There are three different outlets to choose from, but we like the Orchard Gateway outlet. Here, you get a wider range of ingredients to choose from. We highly recommend the Sichuan Spicy and the Butter Soup Pot – the latter uses butter to add extra richness to the mala base!
The wildly popular Uncle Fong Hotpot Restaurant has made its way to our shores after being an absolute hit in Hong Kong. Founded by Mr Fong Chi Chung, affectionately known as Fang Shu Shu, who first carved his name with the Michelin-starred Putien restaurant. You can expect authentic Chongqing hot pot offerings and ingredients not commonly found at other hot pot restaurants. The soup bases are made with premium spices and condiments, while the fresh ingredients that go into the pot are specially curated to complement the soups. One of its unique features is the nine-grid layout (九宫格) of its pot which segregates it into three different heat zones for cooking different types of food!
La Jiang Shan is Singapore’s first individual BBQ and hotpot buffet with free flow marinated meats, greens, carbs and more. You’ll be spoilt for choice with dozens of ingredients to choose from to complement your mala hotpot. The mala broth here is mellow, but still packs a punch. Simply perfect for cosy, rainy days! They’re also open from 11am to 6am daily, which is great for late-night suppers.
Another great spot if you love individual hotpots, or if you’re dining alone. With a vast collection of set meals, they cater to groups of all sizes – starting from one pax! On top of that, Shi Li Fang offers gratifying, spiced mala hotpot broths. Prices are incredibly wallet-friendly, and set meals typically include a meat dish, an assortment of vegetables, up to four soup bases, drinks and sauces. There are 14 outlets that you can visit in Singapore, although service can be inconsistent between branches.
Qi Li Xiang Hotpot satisfies diners and keeps them coming back for more with aromatic broths and fresh ingredients. Take your pick from seven different broths for your hotpot, including the Sichuan Spicy Soup which is delightfully numbing and spicy, loaded with dried chillies and Sichuan spices. The quality of meat here is also top notch, with premium options such as Wagyu beef, prime short rib, Iberico pork and a variety of fresh seafood.
The soup bases at Shang Pin Hot Pot are made with over 25 herbs and spices and simmered for over three hours. The Sichuan Spicy Soup base uses high-quality chilli and chilli peppers, creating something that’s simply tantalising with a strong punch. It has many similarities with Haidilao in terms of soup bases and selection of ingredients – except that it’s a whole lot cheaper! Worth a mention is also their hand-pulled noodles, made in a spectacular fashion that rivals HDL’s performance.
Si Wei Xiao Chuan Chuan has not just one, or two, but three different types of spicy Sichuan soups on their menu. Take your pick from the rich and piquant Sichuan Spicy Soup with Butter, the lighter but no less punchy Sichuan Spicy Soup with Vegetable Oil, and the Local Favourite Spicy Soup which was made milder to suit local tastebuds. Expect a slight twist on tradition, as you dip skewered meats into your choice of soup base. Start the meal with sticks of pork belly, marinated chicken and beef tongue, then move on to ordering some veggie skewers like kang kong, ladyfingers and beancurd skin!
Located in Bugis, Xiao Long Kan Hotpot is a place where you’ll be treated like you’re in the imperial dynasty. From the warm and attentive service to the opulent decor showcasing Chinese lanterns, wooden lattice panels, and gorgeous paintings, get ready to be whisked away into a dining experience like no other. Load up on a variety of top-quality ingredients to go alongside your spicy hotpot. Popular options include the beef slices or the ladyfinger wrapped pork. The freshly made tofu is another go-to pick that complements the spicy soup perfectly!
Newly opened at Chinatown Food Street, mala fans can get their fix of mala hotpot at She Jian Sheng Mala Huo Guo, which offers a steaming pot of numbingly spicy soup filled with seafood and meats, but also free flow fried gyozas and boiled dumplings! Dine at the refreshed alfresco space without any worry about the weather, as the street now has a high-ceiling glass shelter, allowing diners to enjoy their meal rain or shine.
Located on the popular Liang Seah Street, Xian De Lai is a hotpot, BBQ, and grilled fish restaurant perfect for intimate dinners for two, family meals, large groups and everything in between. You have nine different soup bases to choose from, including their signature Sichuan Spicy Soup that’s simmered for eight hours with more than 10 different spices. Enjoy over 80 different ingredients to complement your broth!
Fans of mala hotpot should most definitely check out Da Long Yi. This Chinese export has over 200 outlets worldwide and is well known for their fiery soup base, which comes with oil or butter to cut through the richness of the broth. Food portions here are generous as well. Pick from the usual platters of US beef or Yagyu, Kurobuta pork belly, as well as slices of lamb. There is also a good selection of vegetables, with leafy greens such as spinach or Chinese cabbage.