Sichuan (四川), more commonly known as Szechuan in the Western world, is a province in China. Mala is a very popular Szechuan sauce or style of food from there. The direct translation of Mala actually describes the taste almost perfectly: Ma = Numb, La = Spicy. (However, I said almost perfectly because it left out that the taste is what I describe as magical!) The numbness actually comes from the Chinese peppercorn in the Mala sauce.
During my visit in Kaohsiung, I had many many Hot Pot meals. However, the one visit to a restaurant called Old Sichuan (老四川), was by far the best hot pot I had. What we got was a Yuan Yang Pot (鴛鴦鍋), which means that the pot has a separation in the middle so you can have two different styles of Hot Pot going on:
Half of it is Mala style (the spicy red half), and the other half is some chinese herbal style that is not spicy. This way you’re not stuck eating too much spicy and dealing with stomach problems on the toilet later! ;)
It’s sitting at our table which has the following set up:
You can see our bowls with sauces (soy sauce, sacha suace, peppers, green peppers, etc.) are all ready while we waited for our hot pot to arrive!
If you look around the restaurant the decoration is quite fitting for the whole Sichuan feel:
I must add that the servers were amazing. The entire that we were eating, they would constantly come by to make sure everything was okay, and refill the soup base of the hot pots and add more of the base ingredients.
They bring out the ingredients you ordered for your hot pot on a tray, and place it next to your table. We ordered some veggies (not pictured, was already in hot pot!), assorted mushrooms, Squid balls, and of course lots and lots of meat (lamb and beef):