Written by Candice Neo
The Chinese mala hotpot craze has reached Kuala Lumpur! As a Singaporean living in KL, I used to be on the lookout for authentic Chinese mala hotpots (‘mala’ translates to numbing spiciness) which at that time was a growing trend in Singapore.
But recently, new restaurants specialising in Chinese mala hotpots have been sprouting up in Sunway Velocity (check out their Nanjing Street area), and many of them are even outlets of hotpot chains in Chongqing, China, where mala hotpots originated from! We tried some and were very impressed with the quality – yes, good enough to rival Haidilao!
There’s even Chinese supermarkets selling exotic snacks and food imported from China, catering to the growing Chinese expat communities in KL.
Here’s our rundown of what you absolutely need to check out at this mall, from mala hotpots, Chinese supermarkets, to bubble tea and more! We know there are waaaay more than these in our list of course, but we are only recommending the best!
1. Savoury soups, creative sauces and fresh ingredients: Yi Die Yi Wei 一碟一味 Sunway Velocity
After walking down rows of so many newly opened mala hotpot restaurants, I must admit, most of them look more or less the same, selling similar kinds of food, with similar prices for soup bases and such. So like typical Singaporeans and Malaysians, we made sure we chose the best to try based on limited information – mainly checking reviews online. This one has one of the best ratings with reasonable prices, so we thought, why not?
The entire restaurant is typically decorated like a traditional restaurant you can find in China, with all the glamour, red lanterns, paintings and traditional dividers.
What’s unique here is that their sauces and condiments are not the typical ones you can find elsewhere. Some quirky ones include satay sauce, chicken essence (in solid powdery form), chicken & mushroom sauce and even beef sauce. Of course, you still get your regular chili padi, sesame, peanut sauce, soybean, soy sauce and all, and you can mix them creatively (if you have a good sense of what tastes good together). If not, you can go with their recommendations on what to mix – the recipe is pasted on the wall!
We opted for two different soups – mala (of course we couldn’t have missed it) and tomato. As we generally do not have high spice tolerance, we opted for mala being in the smaller inner pot and tomato soup in the outer pot (which would have more soup). You can customise this accordingly to your preference.
We chose the least spicy option for mala, which was reasonable for us! Personally, I think the tomato soup is just okay, but what I appreciate is that they top up your soup with the soup base you ordered (i.e. tomato soup in our case) instead of just with clear soup like at some other hotpot restaurants!
Their ingredients are very fresh. We ordered sliced pork, scallops, lobster balls, and a variety of mushrooms and vegetables, and each portion is huge (we were hungry and over-ordered!). We were even served a bowl of fresh honeydew while waiting for our food – how thoughtful!2. With traditional Sichuan face-changing and tea performances: Shuguo Yinxiang Restaurant 蜀國印象 ·火锅
This is definitely a crowd favourite. When we came here on a Saturday night, we were told we had to wait 1.5 hours for a table for two! When we came here again with a group of 7 on a Tuesday night, there was still a crowd but thankfully we got seated rather quickly.
We sat indoors, so we were able to catch their dramatic tea-pouring performance! I heard that sometimes they have traditional face-changing performances too. We opted for three soup bases – mala (go for the mild spicy unless you have a really high spice tolerance), tomato and pork bone (you have 10 soups to choose from!). We love their soft and chewy fish balls and shrimp rolls. Their authentic mala soup base is brewed from various herbs and spices imported from Sichuan, the origins of mala hotpot itself!
Like most Chinese hotpot restaurants, you have a variety of condiments and dipping sauces to choose from too. Every table is given a small jar of sesame blended oil that you can add to your sauce. And you will be satisfied with your meal – though maybe your wallet won’t!
Our verdict? Ingredients are fresh and the tomato and mala soups are nice. They put in the effort to be different from the other restaurants with their performances, but besides these I would say that overall it’s not that value-for-money as compared to some of the other restaurants we’ve tried, as they are pretty expensive!
TripCanvas’ Tip: Advance booking is not allowed for dinner, so come before 7pm or be prepared to wait! And you only have two hours to eat, so look at the menu and decide what you want to order before you get seats! 😉
3. Famed Sichuan mala hotpot (with Barbie in a meat dress!): Xiao Long Xing Jiang Hu 小龙行江湖
Xiao Long Xing Jiang Hu is another crowd favourite for Chinese Sichuan hotpot, drawing in a long queue on a Saturday night.
Their Head Chef, Mr Li Jianxin, is one of the key members of the Sichuan Flavor in Xiaolongkan Restaurant Management Company (四川味在小龙坎餐饮管理有限公司), which Xiao Long Xing Jiang Hu is managed by, together with six other well-known brands. He is also a condiment expert, so you can expect that the food and condiments at this restaurant live up to its fame!
The other chefs here are also experts of Sichuan hotpot with more than a decade of experience.
Expect traditional oriental decor here, just as though you have stepped into ancient China. Most hotpot restaurants here seem to run along the same theme and interiors!
Recommendations include their handmade prawn paste and coriander balls! They are so creative – even their meat slices served are artfully decorated on a doll like a meat dress!
4. Find Haidilao self-heating mala hotpot and exotic Chinese snacks: Velocity Supermarket 伟乐中国超市
Fancy a grilled chicken claw, duck claw or wolfberry betel nuts to chew on? Or your very own self-heating Haidilao’s mala hotpot? You can find some of the most exotic snacks here, all imported from China.
So if you are tired of the usual Korean or Japanese snacks and goodies, check this one out for a different inspiration! 😉
5. Authentic traditional grilled fish: Chongqing paper-wrapped grilled fish 重庆纸包鱼
Chongqing and Sichuan cuisine isn’t limited to just mala and hotpots. Spicy paper-wrapped grilled fish is a popular dish that’s often found in restaurants all over Chongqing, where the fish is marinated with chili and spices according to the spice level as requested by customers, just like how we customise it when ordering mala hotpots.
Inspired by Korean grilled BBQ meat on paper and Wanzhou (a district in Chongqing)’s grilled fish, paper-wrapped fish is a new method of grilling fish in a relatively healthier way, in which the fish and spices are wrapped in paper, before being grilled over low heat, so it’s neither oily nor smoky, is more environmentally friendly, while the fish still retains its freshness and tenderness.
Here, you can take your pick from various freshwater fish, including bullfrogs and crayfish as well. We opted for tilapia and it was absolutely delicious – the fish was fresh and well-marinated with garlic, chilli and lots of spices to give it the tangy and numbing mala taste, and the flesh falls off easily. The last time I had such good spicy grilled fish was in Yunnan. I would have eaten everything including the bones if I could (and I’m not even a huge fan of fish in the first place)!
They can also help to add soup to your unfinished sauces and whip it into a hotpot at only RM 5! So you can continue your meal by ordering up ingredients for your new hotpot! Another speciality here is their pork loin (大刀猪腰), which is fresh and often added to hotpots. Don’t miss their pepper chicken (椒麻鸡), marinated beef (卤牛肉), pork belly in red oil (红油肚丝) and beef with parsley (香菜拌牛肉) too.
Now you know where to go when you tire of all the hotpot restaurants in Sunway Velocity!
6. Authentic Sichuan hotpot with Chinese heritage: Zhaoyard Hotpot 赵家院子佬火锅
A famous chain from China, Zhaoyard Hotpot is said by many to be one of the most authentic Sichuan mala hotpots in Sunway Velocity.
You can choose from four different soup bases – their signature mala, tomato, mushroom or pork bone. And with more than 100 ingredients to choose from for your hotpot, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Many diners find that their prices are reasonable for their fresh ingredients, as compared to many other hotpot restaurants in Sunway Velocity, and their owner and staff are known to be friendly and helpful too. Barbie in meat dress is also featured here!
Keep a lookout for this outlet’s creative promos – during one Chinese Valentine’s Day, they even gave discounts for couples as long as they kissed in front of them, and the greater the intensity of the smooch (more discount for French kisses as opposed to just a peck on the cheek), the more discount you get! 😉
7. Late-night authentic Chinese skewers for supper: Tasty Exposure 品串栈
You might not be able to stomach mala hotpot for supper, but how about skewers with beer?
Owned by Shuguo Yinxiang Restaurant, this chuan-chuan (串串) place is an alternative late-night supper spot if you don’t want to hang out at the bar or a bubble tea cafe.
We ordered chicken wings, fan scallop, prawn, tinfoil-wrapped enoki mushrooms soaked in mala sauce, and tinfoil-wrapped brinjal – and they were all very tasty and authentic, likely due to the spices they used to marinate them.
Pair them with their pickled cucumbers like we did which gives that refreshing crunch, a good complement to their grilled skewers. You can add on chilli powder too!
8. (Permanently closed) Dip your lok lok in mala hotpot: Shi Hui Shi Li Chuan Chuan Hotpot 石灰市李串串火锅
Update: We very recently went back again and saw that this restaurant has unfortunately closed down!
In China, they call it “chuan chuan”; in Malaysia, we call it “lok lok” – yes I’m talking about skewers here, which you can dip into your mala hotpot! Hugely popular and successful in China for their skewers-in-mala-hotpot concept with more than 500 outlets there, Shi Hui Shi Li Chuan Chuan has finally come to Malaysia with their first outlet in Sunway Velocity.
What we love about this restaurant is that their ingredients are fresh and that they are all bite-sized (since they are separated into skewers!), so you can pick and try a bit of everything without spending excessively or wasting food – great for small eaters!
Each skewer is only RM 0.55, but if you opt for meat or seafood they are slightly more expensive. Or if you opt for small plates/bowls of tofu, meat, mushroom, etc, they can range from RM 7 to RM 25. Overall pretty value-for-money if you compare to other hotpots that serve larger portions at higher prices (especially if you don’t want to overeat).
And it’s fun to dip your skewers in the hotpot too! If there’s just two of you, you can even choose a half-pot option for soup base, which is only RM 19! We took a full-pot soup base with two different soups (which is more expensive than if you just choose one soup base, of course) – mala and tomato. Both are great but we especially LOVE their tomato soup, which is thick, flavourful and really tangy and sweet (they top it up with clear soup though, sadly, so it would be diluted if you ask to top up).
If you, like me, are concerned about the hotpot smell lingering on your clothes, you can sit outdoors, which we did, and it’s really breezy and comfortable!
Special Mention: Wash down your spicy hotpot with floral fruit teas and collagen drinks!: Maegeo 每角间
Whenever I finish a super satisfying meal of mala hotpot, I’ll definitely crave for either boba milk to take away the numbing spice lingering on my tongue (yes, do you know milk takes away spiciness more effectively than iced water?), or something refreshing like fruit tea.
Specialising in fresh floral fruit tea, Maegeo is your next stop to chill at with your BFFs after dinner, and you don’t have to rush – they open till past midnight every day. With freshly cut fruit soaked in your bubble tea itself, it doesn’t matter if you’ve forgotten your daily dose of vitamins, you’ll surely have replenished them with this delicious healthy drink!
And girls, do you know that a sufficient dose of Vitamin C helps your body produce enough collagen, which leads to healthier glowy skin? Their Matcha Jello contains collagen, Vitamin C and sea enzymes too which revives cells and are anti-inflammatory! I’m so not kicking my bubble tea addiction now that it’s a #beautydrink!
And did I mention that they are super Insta-worthy too?
Now you know where to head to when you crave for mala hotpots! We tried some of these and they are really authentic and delicious! 😉