Mala Tang

4.5
486 Reviews
$30 and under
Asian
The inspiration behind Mala Tang is the street food of Chengdu.. Here you'll find the streets filled with diners sitting at tables gathering around bubbling hot pots, in which dozens of dried chilies bob up and down in an oily red broth.

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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Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
  • Common areas deep cleaned daily
  • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
  • Sanitizer or wipes provided for customers
Physical Distancing
  • Limited number of seated diners
  • Distancing maintained in common areas
  • Extra space between tables
Protective Equipment
  • Waitstaff wear masks
  • Diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking
Screening
  • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace
  • Staff temperature check required
What 486 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.2
service
4.3
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Moderate
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OpenTable Diner
Kansas City
11 reviews
Dined on May 11, 2012
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Definitely a must try. Went here to try something new and were very satisfied. The waiter explained the entire process which was very helpful. Excellent service, would eat here again. Also, surprised to see they serve my favorite Japanese beeru Echigo. Go here for dinner but look elsewhere for dessert.

Q
vipleQueen
Washington DC
41 reviews
Dined on May 11, 2012
Overall4food4service5ambience4

This dining experience isn't for everyone. It involves pots of boiling broth on your table and cooking your own meal, sort of like fondue. But if you are a bit adventurous, give it a try! Note that the standard broth contains MSG, so if you have a sensitivity to that, be sure to tell your server. Ours kindly brought my boyfriend's mother a new pot when we realized it was an issue (luckily before she had eaten anything).

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on May 8, 2012
Overall4food4service3ambience4

Great food and fun to eat!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on April 30, 2012
Overall3food4service4ambience3

I love the music! The chicken and broccoli was very good.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2012
Overall4food5service3ambience3

A different kind of dining experience, and a pleasant one. Great veggie buns; the mala broth had a fascinating taste; we could mix our own side sauces using a number of condiments. Ambience and service are pretty standard and nothing to complain or write home about.

TD
TylerD
Denver
2 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2012
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always have a great experience here, the staff is always friendly and accommodating!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2012
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our new favorite restaurant. Finally a place with great hotpot!!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on April 14, 2012
Overall1food2service1ambience2

Absolute disaster...(and it was our first visit. we were looking forward to our first visit too)
Could barely understand our server (that is when she came around)...Took over 30 minutes to order. We had to ask the attendant at the bar if we could have our order taken. The Spicy Wontons were just a few pieces of gyoza with a spicy soy sauce sprinkeled on top. Our hotpots came and the server forgot to turn on the burner so it took forever for our soup to start boiling (raw meat doesnt cook in warm water as you know)...our server came back to apologize mentioning that she had to take care of a carry out order. not sure what that meant or if we even interpreted what she said correctly. Food was bland. pushy suggestive selling too. Thumbs down

A
vipArthurman
Washington DC
222 reviews
Dined on April 14, 2012
Overall3food2service4ambience3

This was our seccond visit. We tried the hot pots last time, this time we ordered apps a la carte. Dan Dan noodles and Zhong (sp?) dumplings were great. but the chicken was relatively blah and full of bones and gristle--almost inedible. We won't be back.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on April 7, 2012
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was great. Great service.

ES
vipEmilyS
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on April 7, 2012
Overall2food3service1ambience2

Appetizers were especially good - great flavors. The service was poor - both our serve and the food runner. The were out of something on the menu (lotus root), but didn't inform us when we ordered and then gave a poor substitution.

LP
LynnP
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on April 6, 2012
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Our family had a wonderful visit, and we all enjoyed a great meal together. The noise level was low when we first arrived since the restaurant was not full, but by the time we left the noise level was a bit loud for easy conversation.

Having individual hot pots made choosing what to order the hardest part. We each were able to get the mild or spicy broth, and then had a hard time limiting ourselves to a reasonable number of dishes to pull from to cook in our hot pots.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on April 5, 2012
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Perfect for a business lunch: parking, sparkling clean venue, bright with daylight, impressive food, excellent service, quiet at lunchtime so you can really get work done!

CH
ColdHarborLane
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on April 4, 2012
Overall2food4service1ambience3

It's difficult to charactarize Mala Tang. On one hand, the fresh ingredients, spicy broth, and individual burners for hot pot make it one of the best hot pot restraunts in the area. However, my last two visits have seen my orders mishandled, bill incorrectly printed, and very slow service. The most incensing part of my last visit was when they accidentally brought me mild broth, and instead of fetching spicy broth, simply dumped spicy powder in my broth to make it similar to the others at my table. The atmosphere surprisingly conversational in spite of most tables are for parties of 6 or more, and the validated parking is a nice feature in that neighborhood as well. In the end, the food is tasty but don't go expecting stellar service.

KB
KBradley
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on April 1, 2012
Overall4food4service3ambience3

This was a fun take on Chinese Hot Pot- I liked the individual hot pots.

t
thunderesq
Denver
9 reviews
Dined on April 1, 2012
Overall4food4service3ambience4

Tucked away amongst George Mason Law and other random neighboring offices, this is one of the better Sichuan style hot pot places around. I think it's the same owners as Uncle Liu's, except that it's a lot more contemporary and the overall feeling just feels cleaner. The prices are a tad higher than Uncle Liu's, but the experience is better, plus you don't have to dig through tons of oil and peppercorn to get your soup.

We've probably gone about 8 - 10x now since discovering it last year, and still good every time. An order of sirloin, fish balls, and bok choy and we're good for 2.

DL
DreamLibrarian
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on March 29, 2012
Overall4food4service4ambience3

My date and I ordered three appetizers--highly recommend the cucumber salad--and one hot pot. It was a splendid evening, in terms of both the food and the relaxed, social nature of eating it. Despite the designation of starred dishes as "numbing," we found them (including the mala broth for the hot pot) pleasantly hot but not uncomfortably so, even for my date who doesn't like very spicy foods.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on March 29, 2012
Overall3food4service3ambience3

Food was very plain...I realize you have various sauce options & I tried many, but still found food very bland. Ordered beef pot stickers as an appetizer. Our server told us they were a house specialty. However, they were also very bland.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on March 24, 2012
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Mala Tang is a really unique experience, Chinese-style fondue best describes it. The dining atmosphere is very nice, and our server was wonderful in taking the time to explain how the hot pot process works. Everything is customizable, so if you have vegans/vegetarians or picky eaters in your party, no problem. Likewise, if you prefer to share it's just as easy. I would recommend sharing, especially if you're getting appetizers first, as the portions of veggies, tofu, meat, etc are quite generous! Keep it short, simple and specific!Make it useful – describe the scene, food and service levelsCapture what makes the restaurant uniqueAvoid story-telling or irrelevant details

LR
LewisR
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on March 24, 2012
Overall2food3service1ambience3

While the food was good and the hot pot cooking experience at the table was fun, the service definitely detracted from the evening. The service bounced started off as pushy when it came to taking our order (the table next to us hadn't even opened their menus when they were asked to order) and indifference until the check came; one of the hostess chewing gum while on the job didn't add the ambiance either.

W
Wincgirl1
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2012
Overall3food3service4ambience3

The portions were VERY generous, really too much. And if given the choice, I prefer not to cook my own food when I eat out. But it was all very good and fresh and the staff was helpful for first-timers.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Seattle
2 reviews
Dined on March 19, 2012
Overall1food3service1ambience2

The food was good, service was good at the beginning but horrible toward the end.
1. Irresponsible: I already told the server we have a 30% discount but the server still gave the full price bill.
2. Bad manager service: manager never checked on us and I waited approximately 40 min until I can get my 30% off discount. The server told me the manager has to override it and left us, manager walked by at least 3 times and never gave us any response or apology. I had to personally walk to him and show him my email from open table. He grabbed (yes, he did) and started to played with it for 5 minutes and asked me what kind of discount is that, where it said 30% off, then took his time to show server ab the process while I was standing and waitin

S
vipSushilover
Atlanta
5 reviews
Dined on March 18, 2012
Overall3food3service1ambience4

Waitress was slow in everything. It was a busy night and the restaurant was definitely under staffed. Very disappointed with the service as compared to the excellent service I had during previous visits.

JB
JudithB
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on March 18, 2012
Overall2food4service1ambience3

We were there on Sunday, 03/18/12. Food was very good, service was terrible, especially compared to our 1st visit. Our waitress seemed distracted, the food brought to our table was wrong on 2 counts. She was never around, the table next to us had to enlist help to find her. Getting water was an effort. All the service staff passed the table and looked at our dishes, but never made eye contact, even when we were trying to flag them down. On our 1st visit, the whole concept and cooking times were explained to us in detail, this waitress didn't even ask. Never asked if our food was okay, managers never came by to see if things were going well or not.

f
vipfoodiemi123
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2012
Overall2food2service1ambience1

Overall experience would be much better and more enjoyable if servers were more attentive and took time to explain the process. Im very familiar with Chinese hotpot, but still wouldve been nice to have an intro for my guests to orient them (similar to how Melting Pot servers provide a how to, describe the sauces). After the food was dropped off, we had to flag down the waitress for water refills, and had piles of empty plates waiting to be taken away. We had a party of 5 and the table was not big enough to accommodate all the multiple dishes as it was and the lack of service added to the frustration.
I wanted to love this restaurant because the concept is great for groups to enjoy a different style of Chinese cooking. Needs improvements

LW
vipLWinDC
Washington DC
72 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2012
Overall4food4service2ambience4

Recommend ordering 'a la carte,' so to speak. Pick a broth then pick your preferred ingredients instead of going with one of their set combos. Will definitely visit again and will have a better idea of what to pick (we ordered a bit too much food this time).
And be sure to mix in ingredients from the sauces/spices table near the entrance. The waitstaff doesn't tell you about those.

L
Lisa
Washington DC
18 reviews
Dined on March 3, 2012
Overall4food5service4ambience4

We loved Mala Tang. The hot pot concept was a lot of fun and the food was excellent. Only complaint was the wine list. The one Chardonnay offered was pretty awful and they need a Sauvignon Blanc offered by the glass, which would pair nicely with the spicy food. Despite the wine problem, we'll definitely be back.

CC
CatCar
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on March 2, 2012
Overall3food4service4ambience3

Our server was delightful. She made the whole experience better. I do like the food, but find it difficult to get the variety we like and not order too much. The sauce bar was new since our last visit. It was fun to experiment with mixing the sauces. Our server made us her special sauce which was delicious. I'd really like to see a variety platter on the menu that offered several meats and a selection of veggies. By the time we ordered all the dishes we wanted, there was no more room on the table.

SM
vipSMS1
Washington DC
15 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2012
Overall3food3service2ambience3

The food was good, but I was disappointed with the lack of information from our server, which resulted in us ordering something different than we intended. We are Sichuan spice fans but were hot pot novices, so that's what we came here for... and thought we'd made that clear with our questions. But our server let us order off the 'Street Food Hot Pot' menu and only when our meals came out looking nothing like the ones on other tables did she tell us that we'd ordered something different. The good news is that we enjoyed the food anyway, but we'll have to go back and try again to actually get the hot pot. And two thumbs up for both the zhong dumplings and the mapo tofu (very spicy), which we got on the side but which were both quite large.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on February 26, 2012
Overall3food3service4ambience3

A fun dining experience to do as a group--once; it is unlikely we would go again.

JH
vipJohnHab
Washington DC
44 reviews
Dined on February 25, 2012
Overall4food3service4ambience3

If you've never had Sichuan Hot Pot, it's something fairly unusual and Mala Tang's specialty. We had a prix fixe/Bloomspot deal, and it came with an appetizer, choice of hot pot and sesame balls for dessert. I ordered the traditional hot pot, but it wasn't that hot. I'm sure you can order it hotter, so keep that in mind if you like things on the hotter side. The meat and veggie spreads have variety and are generous. The "sauce" station has nice variety of choices. Note the whole place reeks of strong Chinese herbs and spices, so you're going to smell like that when you leave.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on February 25, 2012
Overall3food4service2ambience3

This was our 2nd trip to Mala Tang. We returned because we thought both the service and the food were delicious on our first visit. This time, we were less than impressed.

The restaurant did not have a table for us at our time of reservation - we ended up having to wait for almost 40 minutes beyond our reservation time. We watched multiple other tables be seated, including parties that were without reservations. Our party may have only been for 2, but there comes a time when the host should be willing to give up a larger table to make up for their own mistake.

We had other issues once seated, but they most likely would have been forgiven more easily had we been seated according to our reservation. It was extremely disappointing

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on February 25, 2012
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Mala Tang is a great place to try something a little different, especially with a group. The Szechuan Hot Pot concept is similar to a fondue in that you are cooking your own meat, fish, protein or vegetables in a personal pot of broth but you also have the ability to select from the 30 or so dipping sauces and spices (or make a few of your own by mixing them). All in all it's good food and good fun and not too expensive!

OT
OpenTable Diner
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 24, 2012
Overall4food4service3ambience3

Genuine Chinese hot pot. The menu is a bit confusing, though.

S
Sandy
Washington DC
27 reviews
Dined on February 20, 2012
Overall3food4service2ambience1

Even though we had reservations, our party of 8 was seated right in front of the kitchen door. The restaurant is very noisy and it was even worse with all the traffic and conversation among the servers.

Our server was lackadaisical, a best. It took quite a while for him to come to get our orders and he did not come back often enough to see if we needed anything -- we did! and had to flag him down several times. A decorative screen feel on my head and he simply looked in our direction and slowly cam to lift it off of me. No apology, no sign a regret. He did give us good advice on the quantity of food to order, however.

All this said, the food was good -- especially the appetizers, which were great. In future, I would stick with

B
vipBeth
Washington DC
41 reviews
Dined on February 20, 2012
Overall4food4service4ambience3

This was a last minute choice. We were looking for Chinese, and we found this! It speaks well of this restaurant that there were several Chinese people eating there! We'll go back, now that we know how to order.

OT
OpenTable Diner
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on February 19, 2012
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Despite its lack of "communal" hot-pots, Mala Tang really delivers on the authentic hot pot experience. Master Chef Liu brings the flavors of Sichuan to Arlington, VA and allows those of us who miss the China hot pot experience to feel like we are back home. The sauce bar gives an added dimension to the experience. Highly recommended for people who are either nostalgic of their time spent in China, or are looking for a fun evening of Chinese culture and cuisine.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on February 18, 2012
Overall3food4service3ambience2

Food was very good and authentic Sichuan cuisine. Any time your mouth goes numb due to heat, you are eating Sichuan food. My husband and I decided to get a combo of hot and cold small dishes, called xiao chi in Chinese (little eats). I recommend the onion bread, the zhong dumplings and the pickled cucumbers. We liked the cold spicy chicken, but since it was too hot for me, I expect most people would not like it. It had a great taste, though. Also, their vegetable Dan-Dan Mein (Dan-Dan noodles) was great.
Their specialty is actually Sichuan hotpot and their Chinese vegetables and meats were impressive. We will try that another time. However, from observing others orders, it looked very authentic.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2012
Overall1food4service1ambience2

My boyfriend took me to Mala Tang for valentines day, knowing that I love hot pot restaurants. We had been to Mala Tang once before and throughly enjoyed it. However this time the service was absolutely Unacceptable. The server was beyond rude from the second he hit the table. He didn't greet us and immediately jumped into the concept of hot pot. The highlight of our awful service was when the server brought a tray with our food on it and walked away to take an order from another table. He then moved on to another table and then left to the back of the restaurant. I proceeded to serve myself and placed our 6 plates on our table. After we brought to the servers attention what had occurred he continued to be rude.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on February 12, 2012
Overall4food4service3ambience3

I was there with one other person and it seemed like they had given the table originally reserved for us to someone else that was in a better spot despite us arriving on time. We started off with the green onion pancakes w/ a sweet sauce which were perfect. For entrees we both got the spicy broth with chicken, flounder, and sirloin. The flounder was our favorite. The portions were large, we should have gone with just two proteins instead of 3 but I had some to take home for lunch and it was very reasonably priced. We both were big fans of the sauce bar, they had everything we wanted but the sauce from the pancakes was mysteriously absent. Overall the food was excellent and I am looking forward to coming back to try out more of the menu.

FAQs

Mala Tang does offer delivery in partnership with Postmates and Uber Eats. Mala Tang also offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (703) 243-2381.

Mala Tang is rated 4.5 stars by 486 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.

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