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A Taste of Taipei: Our Top 4 Go-To Places for Mala Hotpot

It is always a good time for Mala Hotpot

· 6 min read

Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, is renowned for its vibrant street food and bustling night markets, as well as its rich hotpot culture. A communal meal where diners cook fresh ingredients in a pot of simmering broth at the center of the table, hotpot is an ideal meal for cooler days or rainy nights. However, even on warm summer nights, hotpot remains a delicious and satisfying option.

Source: Bobby.tw
Source: Bobby.tw

Among the various types of hotpot, mala hotpot, distinguished by its spicy and numbing broth, has become especially popular. And with countless hotpot restaurants throughout Taipei, it can be overwhelming to choose just one. To make things easier, here are our top four hotpot restaurants that we always turn to whenever we're in the city!

Chan Chi Hotpot Restaurant

This is hands-down our favourite, but they are almost always fully booked, especially during dinner times. At Chan Chi, there are only two options for the broth: only mala, or a half-pot mala and a half-pot clear soup. We recommend that you go for the half-and-half to balance out the taste. The mala soup at Chan Chi is not overpoweringly spicy or numbing, and we were able to drink the soup here by itself, though it could be a little salty for some. If you have a low tolerance for spicy food, you can also ask for a less spicy option.

Source: Inline App
Source: Inline App

Chan Chi operates on an a-la-carte menu, so you order the ingredients separately. There is a minimum order of the meat items depending on your party — for a party of 1-3, you will need to order at least 1 meat item; for 4-6, at least 2; and for 7-9 pax, at least 3. But really, you will likely go over and beyond that anyway. Their meat options include beef, pork, lamb, and chicken.

They also have a variety of other hotpot ingredients, and we really enjoyed the yam balls and mushroom balls. The mala broth itself already includes ingredients like duck blood and tofu, though you could always order more of these if you would like. The duck blood really was the highlight for us. For those who haven't tried duck blood and are curious about it, this is actually a very common dish in Taiwanese hotpot. It has a jelly-like texture, and the duck blood at Chan Chi is one of the best we've eaten.

Reservations open at 12pm Taiwan time on the first of each month for the following month (so on 1 October, reservations for November are open). Note also that there is a dining time limit of 2 hours.

(Updated January 2024) Chan Chi has announced that they will be opening a second branch at Ximending this March - April. This is definitely a much more accessible location for tourists and travelers; after all, Ximending is the tourist hot spot. And, we sure hope the opening of a second branch means it will be much easier to get a booking.

🗺️ Address: 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District, Heping East Road Section 3 No. 60

🕤 Opening Hours: 12pm - 1am daily

🌐 Reservations: https://inline.app/booking/-KO9-zyZTRpTH7LNAe99/-LOcon_dHjl7H4_PR39w?language=en

💡 P.S. We are not sure if they have an English menu (and their menu items don't include pictures), but you could try asking in case they do! If they don't, you can refer to their online takeout menu to help you place your orders!

Ding Wang (Tripod King) Hotpot

Next up on our list is Ding Wang (Tripod King). Not only is Ding Wang a popular option amongst locals, it has also gained itself many loyal customers and visitors from overseas! And in fact, Super Junior member Choi Siwon liked it so much so that he flew into Taipei one day before their concert, just to have this hotpot.

At Ding Wang, they have two types of soup bases: the mala soup base, or the soup base with pickled cabbage and pork. As with most hotpot places, there is also the option of going half-and-half, and it is also the option that is most popular with visitors. Butter is used in their mala soup base, giving it more fragrance and also a creamier texture.

Source: Tripod King
Source: Tripod King

Ding Wang also goes by an a-la-carte menu and you can order your ingredients individually. There is a large variety of ingredients that you can choose from. Not only do they have the typical beef, pork, and chicken, they also have a large selection of seafood items. For the other hotpot items, we recommend also ordering the fried bread sticks. Dip it into the mala soup base and let it soak up the broth before eating it - it's an amazing combination. The food portions at Ding Wang also tends to be larger, so be careful not to over order!

With three branches in Taipei, and two of them at accessible locations like Ximending and ZhongXiao East Road, it is far easier to get a booking here, making it a perfect choice for last minute mala hotpot cravings. Their menus also caters to non-Chinese speakers, and include English write-ups and pictures. Reservations open up to 60 days in advance.

🗺️ Address: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Section 1, Zhonghua Rd, No. 152, 2F

🕤 Opening Hours: 11.30am - 2am daily

🌐 Reservations: https://inline.app/booking/-LDaBuB5UvBj5xtnOUlH/-LrRtlMWRLdTGwI6CQ-w

Ma Shen Mala Hotpot

Ma Shen Mala Hotpot is a go-to when we feel like indulging. They are best known for the premium meats and seafood. They also have a larger variety of soup bases, including the classic and favourite mala, a mushroom soup base, a sour cabbage soup base, a peppery pork soup base, and a clear seaweed soup base. You can choose an option to go half-half, but one of the half must always include the mala soup base. The mala soup here has a relatively milder taste, which makes it also easy to drink.

Source: Ma Shen
Source: Ma Shen

Aside from the high quality meats and seafood options, one of our favourite menu items is the instant noodles. The best way to eat the instant noodles here is to cook it in the mala soup base, but be sure not to overcook it. Instead, keep it slightly uncooked where there is still a little bit of crunch. Then, add some chili oil to the noodles and have it together! Be warned though, that if you have a low tolerance for spicy food, the additional chili oil could be too spicy for you.

Ma Shen Mala Hotpot is slightly pricier, and caters better to larger groups. If you are dining during dinner, there is a minimum spend of NTD600 per pax; and for parties below 4, there is a minimum spend of NTD2,400. For the soup base, you will have to minimally order a 3-person portion, and for any additional person after that, the price increases by at least NTD110 per person (depending on which soup you go for).

🗺️ Address: 105, Taiwan, Taipei City, Songshan District, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, No. 8, 3F

🕤 Opening Hours: 11.30am - 3pm, 5pm - 11.30pm from Monday to Friday, 11.30am - 11.30pm on Saturday and Sunday

🌐 Reservations: https://reserve.toreta.in/spicygod/#/

New Mala Hotpot

And finally, we have New Mala. This is the only place on this list that operates on a buffet-style rather than an a-la-carte style. New Mala has been one of the most popular choices for tourists for the longest time. So much so that it brands itself as the “designated restaurant for international tourists”. If you feel very strongly against going to where other tourists go to, then skip this. But in all honesty, we think the food here is one of the best amongst buffet-style hotpot restaurants.

Source: New Mala Hotpot
Source: New Mala Hotpot

Here at New Mala, there are 7 soup bases that you can choose from, and you can choose any 2 from the list for a mixed pot. So if you don't want to have mala, you don't necessarily have to (although that is what they are most famous for). We recommend going for the mala and chicken soup or mala and collagen. The mala soup here tends to be slightly more numbing, so we don't really recommend drinking it.

Here, you have a wide variety of hotpot ingredients that you can choose from. And since it is a buffet-style, this is where you get your chance to try everything without having to worry about driving up the cost! But do note that there will be charges for wastage of food, so order only what you can finish. The meats and ingredients are of very decent quality for a buffet-style hotpot restaurant, but one of our favourite things about New Mala is the choice of sides, dipping sauces, and Haagen Dazs ice cream that are available.

🗺️ Address: 3, 72-9, Section 2, Wuchang St, Ximen, Wanhua District, Taipei City, TW

(Note that there are many branches across Taipei. This is just one of the many branches)

🕤 Opening Hours: 11:30am - 12am daily

🌐 Reservations: https://inline.app/booking/-LjL6vW09dVGOC0tGamg:inline-live-1