[Taipei] A search for “Best Hot Pot Restaurants in Taipei” brought me to Mala Top Double Soup Hot Pot Restaurant 马辣顶级鸳鸯火锅 in Ximending.
This hotpot chain is extremely popular among the locals and tourists, and it is not difficult to understand why.
You get to enjoy value-for-money buffet-style hot pot, in which you can sit and eat-all-you-want for 2 hours. Plus, unlimited Häagen-Dazs and Movenpick ice cream.
Mala Yuan Yuan Hotpot has several branches all over Taipei, and is recommended for group dining or a celebratory meal. (There are other similar sounding restaurants, such as Taipei New Mala Premium Hotpot 台北新馬辣經典火鍋 which is a premium version of the hotpot buffet.)
I went to the main outlet in in the heart of Ximending, located opposite the Lion Grove Building next to the Paradise Hotel, particularly popular among the millennials.
It is best to make a reservation (ideally, at least a few days before) as the line builds up especially around 6pm.
With no reservations, you could wait in queue up to 20 minutes to more than an hour. Walk in on a full night and you might be asked to come back around 9 or 10pm.
The restaurant closes at 2am, but they will only accommodate diners who arrive 12:00 midnight or earlier.
Lunch buffet (11:30am – 4pm) is priced at NT$545 (SGD23.90, USD17.70), while dinner buffet (4pm – 4am) is at NT$635 (SGD27.90, USD20.60).
During weekends and public holidays, NT$635 applies to both lunch and dinner. Children are charged half-price.
For that price, you get a 2-hour buffet dining period with your choice of soup bases, customised with eat-all-you-can meat, seafood, vegetables and other steamboat ingredients.
The buffet requires a minimum of 2 dining persons. If you are dining solo, you will be charged an additional NT$100.
On top of the buffet fee, a 10% service fee is charged. Also, there is charge for leftovers so hold the reins when picking your ingredients.
The 2-hour limit per table starts from the arrival of the first guest.
There is English menu available, and also FREE Wi-Fi.
The restaurant uses a “Yuan Yang” pot, divided down the center to accommodate two types of stock.
Its signature base soup is the Mala Soup, made from a supposedly-numbingly spicy sauce.
However, hard core spice lovers may find it not spicy enough as it is tailored for local Taiwanese taste buds. It is actually possible to drink up the soup on its own.
With your “yuan yang” pot, have the spicy mala broth on one side, and the milder broth on the other. You can choose from a choice from “Vegetable Energy”, Collagen Hot Pot, Pickled Chinese Cabbage, or Stir-Fried Chicken with Chinese Sauce.
Indulge in a wide selection of thinly cut premium meats including USDA Prime and Choice cuts like flank beef, chuck eye roll, pork belly with skin, Australian lamb, New Zealand sirloin beef, New Zealand lamb shoulder, and chicken; along with Handmade Shrimp Rolls and Squid Paste.
These sliced meats and paste are served to your table in small plates, while everything else are on the buffet stations.
Be spoilt for choices of fresh seafood from large prawns to squid, scallop, octopus, flower crabs, sea cucumber, and oysters.
Load with green vegetables (spinach, baby bok choy, broccoli), root vegetables (lotus root, potato, turnip, daikon), assorted mushrooms, different tofu products, offal meats, fish skin, meat balls, dumplings, and noodles.
Assorted dipping sauces and condiments are available.
Here’s what I like about the restaurant: there are really A LOT of ingredients to choose from including less-commonly-ones; and refills are done relatively fast due to the volume of customers.
For example, just for instant noodles alone, there are options from Korean, Thai (Mamak noodles), Taiwan’s Prince Noodles, to Indonesia’s Indomie.
For dessert, head off to the chiller for sweets filled with slices of cakes, pastries, and fresh fruits.
If you are bored with the usual green tea and carbonated drinks, you go for the chilled herbal tea, dried lavender and goji berries in a pot.
What sets Mala Yuan Yuan apart from other hot pot restaurants are the extra perks.
You can enjoy 10+ flavours of unlimited Häagen-Dazs and Movenpick ice cream, and free flow of beverages from fresh juices, soda, coffee, and wine to Taiwan draft beer and the Taiwanese milk tea.
I never had the opportunity to try THAT MANY ice cream flavours from varied premium brands in one sitting, so that to me was a big value add.
The soup choices were considered tasty and not too salty (you probably won’t get thirsty-pangs), though perhaps not as “life-changing” as those offered in the higher-end hotpot restaurants in Taipei such as Wu Lao Guo 無老鍋 and Ding Wang.
Certainly value-for-its-money. I finished our meal feeling overly-full, just below the 2-hour buffet limit mark.
The plus point is, you can always shake off those extra calories by taking a stroll down at the vibrant Ximending.
Mala Top Double Soup Hot Pot 马辣顶级鸳鸯火锅
Ximending Branch: 2F, No. 30, Xining South Rd., Wanhua District, Taipei City 108, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel: +886 2 2311 9881
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 4:00pm; Dinner 4:00pm – 2:00am
Google Maps – Mala Top Double Soup Hot Pot (Ximending)