A trip to Sichuan cannot be complete without a Sichuan mala hotpot meal. The characters 麻辣火锅, however is not what the Chengdu people call them.
Primer on Mala Hotpot (Chongqing style)
Mala hotpot is very popular in Chengdu and is known for its spicy and hot flavor. Literally, “ma” means numbness in the mouth and “la” is chili hot. Mala hotpot is cooking with various raw ingredients in a communal pot of steaming stock blended with spices, and it originated in Sichuan’s largest city, Chongqing. So this kind of hotpot is taken as a Chongqing specialty by the Chengdu locals, although it has become famous and popular all over the country for a long time.
Most of the pots used in hotpot are divided into two sections. One half is filled with the spicy oil, and the other is filled with a delicious broth for those who are not a big fan of spicy foods. Restaurants are also more than happy to turn down the heat on request.
Although there is great variation in the ingredients used, typically any of the following vegetables are included: lotus root, potato slices, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, winter melon, cauliflower, wood ear, enoki, oyster mushrooms, seaweed, bamboo shoots, tofu, yuba, beansprouts, as well as rice vermicelli and cellophane noodles made of sweet potato starch.
The meats most frequently encountered are beef, pork and lamb, although other meats and more specific cuts may be used too.
YiNanShan Hotpot 逸南山鲜毛肚
We walked into this restaurant because the really popular one was packed and the next table would only be available 1 hour later. Well, it’s Chengdu, so there must be many other mala hotpot places that we can go.
The traditional external decor of the place caught my eyes – reminded me of Hongyadong in Chongqing. Anyway, it got a 4 stars rating on Dianping, so it could not be too far off.
It has certainly localised for Chengdu tastes, slightly milder than the Chongqing one. All it uses one-time dips and soup base. We ordered the classic ingredients for mala hotpot – luncheon meat, pig intestines, pig throat, beef, cow tripe – anything that can withstand long cooking. We also ordered some rare stuff like pig brain, goose intestine, pig kidney – these can only be blanched quickly in the stock.
Overall the service was OK, it was 42˚C outside and everyone was feeling the heat. The air-conditioning indoor was not fantastic. Luckily the food was pretty good.
YiNanShan Hotpot 逸南山鲜毛肚
Tel : 028-89992766
Date Visited : Aug 2019