100 Best Restaurants 2012: Mala Tang
Restaurant Arrivals We're Most Excited About
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Cynthia Hacinli, Ann Limpert, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published January 13, 2012
100 Best Restaurants 2012

Mala Tang
Address: 3434 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-243-2381
Neighborhood: Arlington, Clarendon/Courthouse
Cuisines: Szechuan, Chinese
Opening Hours: Daily for lunch and dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Virginia Square-GMU, Clarendon
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: N/A
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Hot pot with pork, prawns, green-bean leaves, wood-ear mushrooms; wood-ear mushrooms with cilantro; pork dumplings; dan-dan noodles; green-onion pancake; mapo tofu.
Price Details: Starters $4 to $8; hot pots $3, add-ins $4.50 to $21.


Szechuan isn't a cuisine for the faint of sensibility--it's a triple-barreled assault of smoke, heat, and pungency that excites and numbs the palate. Chef Liu Chaosheng retains all those properties at this East/West mash-up but also brings finesse to his small plates--the best reasons to pay a visit.

The ruby-walled room, with its turned-down lighting and low-key techno soundtrack, feels like the sort of place where drinks are king and food is an afterthought. But few Asian restaurants are as mindful of the details. Hot pot is the focus, and to appeal to Western palates, diners are encouraged to order their own pot--it's customary to share--and accent it with fish, meat, and veggies. Thinly sliced pork has the depth of flavor of a heritage breed, the prawns are glisteningly fresh, and the vegetables taste as if they just arrived from a farmers market.

What to get: Hot pot with pork, prawns, green-bean leaves, and wood-ear mushrooms; wood-ear mushrooms with chili oil and cilantro; pork dumplings; dan-dan noodles; scallion pancake.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/13/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews