Meandering Meals At Mala Hotpot

This ancient Chinese cooking method, which involves a boiling broth filled with an assortment of meats, noodles, and vegetables, dates back more than 1,000 years.
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Photograph by Andrew Doench

Having a hotpot dinner is not for people who don’t know or like each other. This ancient Chinese cooking method—which involves a boiling broth filled with an assortment of meats, noodles, and vegetables and dates back more than 1,000 years to the Zhao Dynasty—shouldn’t be used as a get-to-know-you experience such as a first date. It’s a slow-going process that requires time and patience, one that is best had with good friends or close family. Located in the old La Petite France space in Evendale, Mala Hotpot is a great spot for one of these meandering meals.

A combo will get you your choice of a protein (everything from chicken breast to lamb leg slices to fried tofu), a soup, vegetables, and a carb. It’s a culinary game of “choose your own adventure.” Want your broth with a little kick? Go with the Mala soup to up the spicy level. Want your protein hearty? Try angus rib eye slices, beef belly, and flank steak. Not in the mood for noodles? Skip the ramen and udon and try the rice cakes. If there are just too many choices to make and you want less food, the à la carte menu is pared down for your frugal sensibilities.

After you make your selections, you can get back to your conversation until the restaurant’s Keenon Robotics automated robot delivers your order to the table. The $13,000 unit zips around the space, pre-programmed with table numbers by the kitchen staff to drop off corresponding meals and drinks. And you won’t want to forget your drink. A bottle of unfiltered sake or a Tsingtao beer should do nicely.

Mala Hotpot, 3177 Glendale Milford Rd., Evendale, (513) 407-3039

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