There are many of these places all over Changchun, some are restaurants but most are just hole-in-the-wall type outlets. Very near to where I work there must be at least four different malatang establishments and they are always packed at lunchtime. Unfortunately I’m not really a fan malatang but i’m trying to like it! 🙂
Malatang literally translates as ‘hot hot hot’ which really has no real meaning in English beyond expressing somthing spicy.
It’s like ordering from a canteen, you tell the person what you want – extra this, not too much of that – and then you choose what type of noodle you’re interested in. The spices and various sauces are then put into a bowl lined with a plastic bag. Then the noodles and veg are mixed up and boiled in a basket like contraption especially for the job. Wait about 30 seconds and the veg is done ready to be mixed with the sauces in the plastic bag, it’s all very simple and fast.
I just wonder whether this could become popular in the west, afterall its very healthy compared to more traditional fast food. One problem may be that many of the vegetables used I have never seen outside China before and I wonder if its possible to find these (beyond digging up weeds from peoples gardens) on the market at a reasonable price.
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