About Mala Tang
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.
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.