Cheap Eats 2015: Mala Tang

Where we go for our favorite hot pots and much more.

Cost:

Roiling hot pots at Mala Tang. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Hot pot was the focal point when this place opened four years ago, but it has since been deemphasized—a smart move, letting you appreciate what the chef can do when he, not you, does the assembly. The best approach is to treat a meal as you would at a small-plates restaurant, ordering an array of dishes (tender dumplings in chili oil, or dan-dannoodles topped with a smoky meat sauce) to augment your hot pot. As for the latter: You can opt for one of the customizable, kitchen-cooked hot pots, in which you pair, for instance, pork belly with broccoli and shrimp and out comes a rich, aromatic stew in a chafing dish, or you can choose your raw materials and broth and cook your own.

Cuisine: Chinese

Where you can get it: 3434 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-243-2381

Also good: Hot pot with prawns; hot pot with surf clams; hot pot with rib eye; scallion pancake; wood-ear mushrooms in chili oil.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.