Mala xiang guo @ 936 siglap spicy hot pot
It took me a long time to build the confidence to order mala xiang guo (MLXG). The first problem with MLGX is how to order. The process is slightly intimidating and my lack of mandarin skills means I am not always 100% sure what I end up ordering. I was initially intrigued by the huge bowls I was seeing at the coffee shop that led me to see they were coming from the MLGX stall. There was a queue, which gave me enough time to watch what people were doing and get the general vibe of the ordering process.
The second problem is what to order. The are almost limitless combinations you can choose. Do you mix it up and get different ingredients every time or do you just stick to a regular order? The variety is huge, some fresher than others. I can see what meat is the chicken. The rest of the red meats are a bit more of a mystery. There are a few kinds of fish too - no idea what they are. But the choice of fresh vegetables was most appealing to me, something lacking in a lot of hawker food. I ended up choosing celery, eggplant 🍆, lotus root, bok choy 🥬, black fungus, tau pok, tau kwa, luncheon meat, lap cheong, and one set of maggi noodles.
The third problem you face when ordering MLGX is that I fail to comprehend how they work out what you pay. At this stall you select the portions yourself, but what is a single portion? I have no idea. It seems you need to trust your hawker. The effervescent uncle running 936 siglap spicy hot pot is an affable chap, but he does sport a very expensive looking gold chain. He asked how spicy I wanted it. Without anything to reference to anything I had to opt for medium 🔥🔥. The total this time came out to $13. Expensive for a hawker stall, but didn’t seem to bad seeing the couple before me paid $25!
The uncle gives you a buzzer to come collect the MLGX ready, so you have a chance to find a table that are scarcer in this covid-19 times. When I collected the MLGX you could smell the sauce, it hits you as you carry this huge bowl back to your table. Its intoxicating. I deduced I had way over ordered, there was a lot of food in this bowl. Surprisingly, it was not that spicy, next time I will have to ask for a spicier version. There was a nice numbing sensation on the lips though. The flavour of the MLGX is delicious, soaked into the soft vegetables, tofu, and instant noodles, which combined with the crunchy textures of the celery, lotus root, black fungus, and peanuts, really works as a dish.
Now I just have to work out my favourite combinations. And maybe order a bit less.
Coffee shop: LTN Food Village
Address: 936 East Coast Rd, Siglap
Hours: 11am - 10:30pm