Mala Hotpot Around NUS

Being born in the southern part (not from Guang Dong) of China, I had the first taste of spice probably even before my memory starts to solidify, and I liked it. Naturally I started to search for spicy food, not necessarily authentic Chinese food, when I arrived in NUS and started my university life here, and Mala Hotpot is one of my favorite food types.

This blog is intended for my SEO module, but I wrote it anyway because I feel it is something interesting to talk about. However, bear in mind that I am writing all these based on my past experience living on campus, and food taste is a subjective topic, so please, if anyone at all is reading this and thinking “Who the XXXX is this guy and he knows nothing about the food in NUS”, I would say yeah luckily I am not Jon Snow aka AEGON Targaryen.

Mala Hotpot (麻辣香锅), I don’t know the exact translation and I don’t really care. There are, based on my observations, 4 food stalls that are selling this product, and they are:

PGP Ecanteen, PGP Aircon Canteen, The Deck 2nd Floor, Utown Koufu

Ecanteen’s is a mediocre among them all, and like every mediocre it represents the largest subset of the population, so I guess this is the most commonly visited store during my stay in PGP. Price is fair, service is ok, the amount is fair as well. The spice is normal, it has a slight taste of sweetness inside and that becomes evident if you purposely order mild spicy (based on introspection because I had never ordered anything less spicy than medium).

Acanteen’s stall is a bittersweet story, it is the first in PGP, and every night when i came from my internship around 7:30pm, I knew they are doing great because the serial number on the receipt was over 120, that was around 1200 revenue per day. And frankly I liked it, the spice is the best among all stalls, I ordered “the most spicy plus spicy” everytime, and I enjoyed eating that 12 dollar pot with a bowl of rice every night in my room, with tears and sweats and running nose. However, they starts to become careless for the freshness of the raw materials, and the taste were inconsistent, the extent of spiciness was fluctuating. That’s the time I decided to abandon the ship. The chef apparently did not pay much attention to the amount of sauce heused.

The Deck: I would not say much, but the spicy taste is accompanied with a little bit of sourness, which probably is a flavor added by them, but I just could not appreciate that. Besides, there are too much water in the sauce, it is a good thing if you have not ordered enough food — rice goes down easily with the sauce. In terms of the spice, it’s just not good enough.

Utown Koufu. To be fair, the last time I visited them was around 2 years ago, and I promise you I had their food more than twice, so this means what I said now may be no longer valid. In terms of food quality, they had the freshest raw materials among all competitors, however, their spiciness … I do not know how to put this more delicately … simply does not exist. Yeah yeah I understand localization and all that, and I am not criticizing them at all. It is just not going to be the answer if my friend asks me to recommend a Mala Hotpot stall. Their food expensive, but the fault is on Koufu’s rental price. They are not spicy, or Mala, or whatever.

So that’s it … I don’t think I could continue writing anything because writing so much stuff in English is not only a challenge to my language skill (which has not improved at all after my A levels), and also aspired my craving for supper now, but no you shall not eat.

P.S. Clementi Hawker center has another Mala Hotpot stall and they had great spice, just besides the Xiao Long Bao stall.