Malatang is the ultimate DIY hotpot dish for one. The fast, casual single-serve mutation of the Sichuan hotpot has done huge numbers in Beijing and China’s greater north-east over the past decade; its affordability and in-and-out efficiency is the perfect complement to the frenzied speed of modern life. It’s also healthy(ish), endlessly customisable, and fun.
Wright Street’s Gathering Point, is not strictly malatang-only. Blond wooden tables and bench seating dominate a medium-sized dining space otherwise sparsely decorated, save for the wooden tiles that hang in rows behind the counter. Each of them is engraved with the name of a dish and designed to be removed when that dish runs out for the day.
Diners pick up a basket and a pair of tongs from the counter and make their way to ingredient shelves, which are stocked with vegetables, carbs, and various meats (offal fans, this one’s for you). Here, you decide what to include in your malatang.
Once you have your selections, take your basket to the counter where it is weighed and charged at $2.60 per 100 grams. Extras such as instant-noodle cakes are charged separately. You then choose your spice level before the basket is taken out the back where its contents are submerged into a meat broth, lifted out once sufficiently cooked and served to you minutes later. You can then top your malatang with a selection of sauces (chiefly sesame), oils (often Sichuan peppercorn infused) and herbs.
Gathering Point also serves a fairly scattershot menu of noodles and rice dishes from around China, but the malatang is the main event here.
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