In a Hot Spot with Mala– Colombo City Centre Food Studio

Consuming food from a hotpot is a whole new experience where a divided pot with a heating element is set in the centre of a table with a soup/broth base in one section and a spicy sauce in the other. Different ingredients including various soy products, greens, vegetables, meats, sea food, dumplings and noodles can be added to the broth, cooked and consumed with a serving of sticky rice. It seems a fabulous method for communal eating and it certainly sounds intriguing doesn’t it? While meat can certainly be added to the broth, the broth itself is most often vegetarian. So, essentially hotpots can be easily turned into a plant based dish. 

When I was first introduced to the dish in Sri Lanka, the presentation was different and frankly I thought it looked dodgy and wanted nothing to do with it. Many hotpots later, I absolutely love it and convinced Thadsha to try it out on afternoon. 

The Mala Hotpot is nestled on the top floor of the Food Studio of the Colombo City Centre. Now for an embarrassing tale. For months I was convinced that this food outlet was named after its proprietor – Mala. Mala being a very common female name in Sri Lanka, I did not for a moment question this thought. Wanting to be friendly and gather more info for the review I asked the staff about Mala the owner of the establishment, only to be told gently that Mala had nothing to do with the owner but is the name of given to a Chinese blended spice containing Sichuan peppers, chilli and other spices. ( Double face palm) I breezed through my embarrassment while Thadsha was laughing away and started the ordering process. 

Now this ordering process has a method. Here is a step by step guide. 

  1. Pick a tray with tongs
  2. Pick any amount of veggies from the selection 
  3. Choose your spice level from mild, medium and High
  4. Weigh your tray and pay accordingly
  5. Take the token you are given and search for a beverage as Mala Hotpot does not provide you with one. 
  6. Once the device beeps you are good to go

I think this whole ordering process gives a certain amount of control over what you eat. I picked Pak Choi, Kan Kung, thinly sliced carrots, cauliflower florets, wood car mushrooms, black mushrooms, Tofu, Tofu skin, Bamboo and potato noodles. They did not have seaweed sheets when we went and that broke my heart, because I absolutely love it. Please note that while I love my spices, I do not have a death wish and thought I should take care with my Mala (Not the female, but the spice) and opted for mild. 

Now here’s fair warning. Mala Hotpot does not serve the dish on a heating device and what you are served is a fusion that is simply a stir-fry and in a brothy sauce that is accompanied by a sticky rice bowl. You have the choice of using cutlery or opt for chop sticks. The philistine that I was, I used cutlery. I must say, that while you do not get the whole hotpot experience, the flavours that dance in your mouth and the different textures that whirl with it truly compensates. From crunchy to rubbery to smooth it has it all. Despite being mild, this dish is still quite spicy and the sticky rice truly helps in balancing things out. All in all it was a truly nutritious meal that was packed with some awesome flavour. In all we spent Rs 900 and it filled us up. 

Mala Hotpot is a go to place for me, especially when I need a mood booster. Try it out and let us know what you feel. Cruelty free, plant based food really is awesome. 

TTFN peeps. Until next time!