The hot pot itself is a pan that sits on a portable burner, surrounded by an array of small plates piled high with fresh ingredients. Guests select pieces of food and drop them into the broth to cook, and then dip them into delicious sauces.
For the main hot pot course, Mala Tang serves a variety of proteins including chicken, lamb, all-natural beef, and fresh seafood; starches such as sweet potato noodles, and a plethora of vegetables ranging from bok choy to lotus roots. Those who are "afraid of the chili heat," as the Chengdu locals jokingly warn incoming travelers, can tone down the mala flavor with a mild version of the cooking broth.
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I have dined here before and been much happier with the food. This time, as soon as we were seated, our waitress advised they could only take cash as they did not have 'good internet' and could not use their credit card machine. Our choices: to leave or go to an ATM to get cash. I walked to Giant and got cash. The food was less than desirable. We all did the Dry Pot option and perhaps should have chosen the Hot Pot instead. The food was just lackluster. Of the 5 of us, 3 of us left more food than we ate and we did not take our leftovers. Our server, even though she was very nice, really didn't seem to be as well versed with the menu items as she should/could have been. I'm not sure what has happened but since I don't really care for 'Resy', which they are switching to and the overall experience we had, I won't be back.
Love the hot pot selection. Good food. Very friendly staff.
Chinese New Year. Dry pot was outstanding.
Food and service were OK. I had the vegetable lo mein, which was tasty after adding condiments, oils & spices from the sauce bar. I also had the vegetable buns that were tasteless so I ended up asking that it be taken off the check.
Birthday dinner for my 16 year old. She brought two friends and we have a family of 5. Lots of food allergies and requirements. Everyone ate and had fun. In the end, even with the tip was $182 for seven who had a delicious and memorable meal. We ordered all we wanted and left only a few crumbs! Waitress (from Russia) was fantastic!
We've always had prompt and friendly service but this night was off.
Our first time with hot pot
This was the worst meal I've had in a restaurant. Food was terrible. Spring roll appetizer came to the table with a frozen core. Really? Hot pot was flavorless. Sauce table was disgustingly dirty. All around a terrible dinner.
While we didn't try the hot pot, the meals we did try were edible, but not notable. Similarly, service was slow and just below the line of friendly. And, the restaurant was cold inside. My guess though is we arrived on the wrong day and ordered the wrong items, because there were a fair number of people in the restaurant. Still, not sure I'd go back.
Mala tang has delicious food, great service, a fun atmosphere and everything we love in a restaurant. It is our go to place for family visiting and special moments. Our obvious recommendation is the hot pot. I really appreciate the vegetarian options.
We love the team there especially Margaret. She is warm and welcoming every time!
The menu is rather limited, so be sure to check it on line before reserving. You can choose hot pot (cook your own raw ingredients in hot broth) or dry pot (chef cooks same selection of ingredients for you - but with only one flavor profile offered). It was an interesting experience, but pretty hot in the restaurant. So, it was fun as a group, but we don’t need to go again soon. The waitstaff was very nice and helpful.
Mala Tang is the most authentic Szechuan food in the DMV area. Great hot pot, great dry pot, you NEED to try the twice cooked pork!
Food was amazing, service was not that great. They only had two waitresses for the large restaurant and got pretty busy while we were there. We ordered hot pot and it took almost an hour to bring us the ingredients to do this.
The food is amazing and the waitress was very nice.
The food was great here. The downside came with the service we received. It was our first time and we didn’t know you offered free parking across the street. When I asked for parking validation, I was turned down until I heard the host honor someone else and my husband had to tell her we overheard her validating parking for another group. Everyone should receive the same service no matter what. Also we had to go grab a waitress to order food, I was left waiting for over 20 minutes while a group who came after us, were served first. It can be perceived as discriminatory, so be very careful of this. Not everyone will be as nice and understanding. Food was great and drinks were delicious.
The menu was confusing having never been to hot pot before, but we took cues from other tables and will definitely be back as everything was amazing!!
This is our second visit to Mala Tang and will not be our last! In our opinion this is some of the best Asian food we have ever had! It was hot and very tasty. My husband had chicken with green beans which was flavorful and the green beans were thick and tender. It came with hot and sour soup with the fried noodles on the side. They were delicious! We have not seen house made fried noodles in years in our area. They used to give a big bowl with the soups and were a real treat alongside the soup. I had a big bowl of three treasures noodle soup. Perfect comfort food! Since I like Asian food on the spicy side, I asked her for the chili sauce. She directed me to the covered cart which held any accent sauce you might want. Not knowing what to select, I mixed random hot and sweet together. It tasted good on a side sample of the soup so I mixed it in. The soup was even better.
Our waitress was very pleasant and helpful. We talked about how much we liked the lunch and she seemed very pleased.
Their specialty is a cooked bowl and a raw bowl which is somewhat like a Mongolian Hot Pot or Asian fondue...a fun dish when you are not in a hurry. (The names are probably wrong.) We had the cooked bowl in our last visit. The meat was well trimmed and tender.
We will definitely return even though it is around 38 miles from our home. We thought it was that good.
Never disappointed at this hot pot favorite! We really like the new menu.
We went for Valentine’s Day. The food was amazing!! They were a little understaffed but the restaurant was packed for the holiday so that was understandable. Park across the street in order for them to validate your parking.
It was a very busy night since it was Valentine's Day and the decorations were sweet. The food was delicious as usual. However, the wait staff was very inattentive after they realized we weren't drinking alcohol and were frequently speaking loudly and rushing around. That changed the ambiance quite a bit. One main course order arrived almost 15 minutes before the other order and then, on top of that, no one was there to light the burner. The waitress seemed annoyed there was no room on the table for the next course, but no one came to bus the table.
Always a good time
Mala Tang is our favorite restaurant. It has delicious food and friendly staff. Every visit we feel welcome and fulfilled.
Mala Tang is great for hot pot. They have tons of options and a fun atmosphere.
Hot Pot experience was a blast!
Mala Tang offers two basic options for diners: hot pot or dry pot. My spouse is a fan of the hot pot; I am not. This is not for culinary reasons, but that I'm not a believer in paying money to dine to end up cooking my own food in vats of boiling broth. (FYI, my spouse is the cook in the household.) For those not wanting to prepare their own food, the dry pot provides a good option to eat highly seasoned, and fairly spicy, preparations. Nevertheless, while I admire the food at Mala Teng, I find dining there less fun than a conventional Chinese restaurant.
Fantastic food. Definitely a cut above
My family and I had the hot pot, with a mix of vegetables and meats, and we loved it! Will be back, since dishes at other tables looked great also. Service was very polite and professional, Jen did a great job explaining the hot pot system, made us feel right at home.
Zhong dumplings and dry pot were amazing!
I’m quite impressed overall. I went here with my friends and it’s all our first time. We will be back with our respective families. We will be back very soon.
Good service and food was very tasty. Noise level was quiet so it was great for a business lunch.
Mala Tang has been one of my favorite Chinese in the DMV area!
Decided to try something different while visiting daughter in DC area. Went on a Sunday night, place was packed, had to wait about 20 minutes for our reservation. There were a lot of Asians in the restaurant- good sign. Sadly, the restaurant was grossly understaffed and service was abysmal. We had never experienced the hot pot style of cooking. No one asked if it was our “first time”. We did our best to order. Food came out, there was no explanation of how to proceed. We placed the meat, noodles, and vegetables in the pot. There was a sauce bar in the middle of the dining area that no one told us about. We watched as other patrons helped themselves to the sauces and did the same. Food was delicious but challenging to maneuver the cooking with minimal utensils and no instruction. The broth was boiling, the flame under the pot was huge. My napkin caught on fire, the broth splattered all over my shirt, and, still, no offer of assistance whatsoever. I threw my flaming napkin on the floor and stomped on it to put the fire out. Not one employee came by to ask if we were ok, or to offer assistance. I don’t think we’ll go back there due to the lack of service. It’s too bad because the place is cute and the food was pleasant. The experience was awful. I can not recommend.
Food was amazing and my 6 year old loved cooking her own food! The hot pots made for a fun activity. We liked the hot pot more than the dry pot and sharing one hot pot was plenty for us. Very large main servings!
Love this place! Hot pot is such a fun group activity. The broth here is so flavorful, the foods are fresh and delicious (the flounder is AMAZING) and the sauce bar makes it easy to create your own flavors. Awesome place for a group of family or friends.
As a foodie, I recommend this place simply due to its authentic Chinese cooking and the convenience location. The grill fish with pickle flavor tastes good, but it would've been better if the restaurant uses live fish. The hot pot is popular in this place, and the ingredients are creative (e.g. beef with milk or wine). I tried some authentic chinese dishes in this restaurant and they were quite tasty comparing to the other SiChuan restaurants in DMV area. Though the cost is a bit higher than the average, I will come back.
so-so food, relatively high prices. The decor is functional, the wait staff okay, but overall, you can get better Chinese food elsewhere at more reasonable prices.
Had a great dining experience, would definitely go back for the Hot Pot