I have keen eyes for new restaurants popping out in town. Mala Tang’s noticeable sign only turned on its lights at night. Seems to be an after-work budget hot pot kitchen that opens daily from 5pm up until 2am. It was a sweater weather when O and I dropped by the small place of Mala Tang. The weather had been moody enough to prove its anger through pouring out its strong tears causing floods in some places. Lucky for us, the flood didn’t reach our town.
We parked in front of Mala Tang Hot Pot Kitchen. No one else was inside except us and the staff. If there were other people with cars in there, it might be difficult for us to look for a parking space along the busy eating street of San Juan with restaurants side by side.
The first bold sign that greeted us inside was the step by step board on how to make our own Shabu-Shabu. The waiter gave us a basket and a tong like shopping in a market, only we’re shopping for our shabu-shabu toppings.

Step 1: Choose your Toppings.
Step 2: Choose your Noodles
Step 3: Choose your Broth

In Chinese, Mala Tang is simplified as a common type of street food on sticks. Number of ingredients in skewers cooked in a mildly spicy broth. If you take a short research on where else to find Mala Tang, you’ll land on one page showing the restaurant in Washington. A Sichuan hot pot restaurant similar to San Juan’s Mala Tang.
While looking at the menu, I noticed that the cheapest hot pot you could get costs Php125. That includes 4 pieces of toppings with plain broth. Other than their shabu-shabu, you could ask the waiter for their menu and you’ll find there a list of budget dimsum and rice meals.

The Food:

Fried Wanton (Php 95)
Rate: 2/5
I thought I’ll find the crispy type of Fried Wanton in that new hole in the wall restaurant. Unfortunately not. Served hot but bite a little and you’ll get that rubbery texture from the wanton. It was too solid to cut in half at the same time irritating to chew.
I made the wrong choice in ordering this fried dimsum.

Sate Shabu-Shabu, 4pcs. (Php 135)
Rate: 4/5
From the sign alone, it shows that their hot pot or shabu-shabu is their specialty. The budget bowl is decent and reasonable if you’re caught in the middle of your hot soup cravings.
We added Php10 for choosing Sate broth instead of plain boring broth. For a little excitement of flavors, I was into a hot sate soup that evening.
The toppings you’ll see from the glass freezer looks somehow like what we chose – squid, shrimp and meat balls, and bean curd. Noodles are included, you just have to choose what kind of noodles you think suits your bowl.

The Ambiance:

From the outside, it was a surprise to see the well-decorated and orderly small space. Very casual dining place, made even more casual as it uses plastic Monobloc chairs. The glass kitchen happens to be in front where you could watch the cook mix up and finalize your customized shabu-shabu.

The Parking:

As I mentioned earlier, the street of J. Abad Santos has a line up of various restaurants with limited parking spaces. For Mala Tang, 1-2 cars could be accommodated.
Have you tried Mala Tang Hot Pot Kitchen in San Juan?
Share with me your thoughts foodie! 🙂
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The Food Scout
Location: J. Abad Santos St. Little Baguio, San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines
Operating Hours: 5:00pm-2:00am
Budget: PHP125++

Food 8/10
Ambiance 8/10
Service 8/10
Cost 9/10
Overall 8.25/10