A white neon sign of a man holding a bowl of noodles is one of the first things you see upon entering Lazyboy Hotpot, which is fitted out with striking red and black interiors by Faculty Design. The large, airy space is packed with tables perfect for groups. It's a dedicated malatang joint.
Malatang (which translates roughly to “spicy, numbing soup”) is a pick-and-mix hotpot for one that originated in Sichuan, in central China. It’s named after mala sauce, a key ingredient, which is heavy on Sichuan peppercorns and dried chillies. Lazyboy follows in the footsteps of Gathering Point, Chao Chow and 18th Street (all located in and around Chinatown), which all serve the dish.
Signs around the restaurant explain the process of creating your meal. First, pick a bowl and pair of tongs; next, choose your meats, vegetables and noodles; mix in some condiments; then walk to the counter to weigh your ingredients. Finally, choose a broth and spice level (there’s a tom yum option if you want something more mild), then bid your ingredients adieu as they’re taken to the kitchen to be cooked. Less than 10 minutes later the bowl’s back on your table, steaming hot and ready for slurping.
Oyster mushrooms and fish roe balls are some of the mot popular ingredients, but that's only the start. There are eggs (quail, raw and boiled); fried dough; pumpkin; oysters; dumplings; tteokbokki (rice cakes); bitter melon; and okra. Plus all the usual hotpot suspects: bok choy; choy sum; daikon; lotus root; kang kong (water spinach); and Chinese cabbage and broccoli. There are a few different noodle options – udon, hokkien, falt-rice and instant among them.
Asian grocery favourites are on-hand to cool down your palate. There are cans of Yeo’s (lychee, soya bean, sugar cane and wintermelon) and Mesona Grass Jelly, plus soft drinks, iced tea, soju and a few beers.