Here is the problem with spending a significant part of my day reading about food and talking about food: I tend to get disappointed when I actually eat at the restaurant. Many times, new restaurants are built up to be these amazing experiences and I leave them feeling a bit down.
I did not feel this way about Mala Tang. This is after reading great reviews, hearing it from fellow bloggers, and also hearing it from my own boss about how good this place is. Here are the reasons why I enjoyed my meal at Mala Tang and why I am going back:
- The food is good. When presented, the meat looks fresh, the vegetables look great, and the broth served is delicious. Also, you can customize your food based on your tastes and there is a lot of food. Everyone in my dinner party took home food. I can recommend the Dan Dan Noodles and the cold spicy noodles. I ordered the beef, napa cabbage, and mushrooms. Delish! The dumplings were only ok. I would stick with the spicy cold noodles for your appetizer.
- Service is good and the place looks clean. When I lived in California near an area called Little Saigon, there was a push by the city to teach Vietnamese restaurant owners how to provide good service to bring in more customers and bring money to the city. They were addressing the fact that most Asian restaurants do not pay attention to service. The concentration is serving delicious food fast and at a good price. That mentality discourages some people from eating at Asian restaurants and this mentality is different at Mala Tang. Our server was especially attentive and even gave us a discount on our meal. I've been to other "hot pot" establishments and trust me when I say this place is clean and the food is presented well.
-Atmosphere is fun. How can you not have fun cooking your own food in a little personal pot of soup? I also like the large wooden tables and the tables are spaced far enough away from other guests that you don't feel like other people can listen in on the conversation.This is the kind of eating that encourages conversation. You talk, you cook, you eat and then you can relax and talk some more. There is no rush to eat your food while it is hot because you are in control of that.
- Mala Tang offers many different ways of getting discounts. I've seen them on multiple "deals" websites and they are currently on Savored.
This is a great restaurant to go with a bunch of friends. I plan on taking Marshall and a few other friends here soon (for instance, September 7th).