I’ve been on a bit of a hot pot hunt as of late (or as well call it in Malaysia, steamboat), especially Sichuan style mala hot pot. So when the opportunity to be one of the earliest group to sample Xiao Long Kan Sichuan Hot Pot (小龙坎火锅) came calling, I was quite excited, to say the least.
Xiao Long Kan is one of the most popular spicy steamboat chain originated from Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan province in China. So when it comes to authenticity, you can’t do any better than that, this is the ground zero of Spicy mala hot pot.
Xiao Long Kan’s first branch in Malaysia is located at Fahrenheit 88, more specifically, at the side that is facing Starhill shopping mall (don’t try to look for it INSIDE Fahrenheit 88 like I did..)
While there’s plenty of seats spanning across 4 levels, it already gets pretty packed, but a little patience from your end and I’m sure you’ll agree that it is definitely worth it.
There’s four different soup base to choose from – traditional spicy soup (mala, a must have), tomato soup, mushroom, and pork bone broth. You can always go for up to three like we did (all except mushroom). Additionally, the level of spiciness can also be customized. Do refer to the menu below.
Condiment situation is different here at Xiao Long Kan compared to just about every other hot pot outlets. Instead of a dozen or even more choices, here they stick to the traditional way of cilantro, green onion, and garlic. A special oil (xiang yu) is then added to the condiment which has the property of lowering heat. You can also choose to add soya sauce or black vinegar, though the good chef does not recommend doing so.
This blend is to ensure the taste of ingredients and soup is tasted to its fullest instead of being overpowered by fancy condiments. Can’t say I disagree.
And then there’s ingredients. Xiao Long Kan does not lack in “special dishes” not easily found at other restaurants. Some of which even requires some sense of adventure.
We were served with Astralian wagyu A5 (so good we went for seconds), pork ball, pork neck, fish paste, prawns, pork belly, chili beef, rose meat ball, sliced lamb, and these are just the “normal dishes”.
In addition, we also had duck intestine, tripe, pork blood (my love!), pig’s brain, and even aorta!
I like that they also include a guide on the menu on how long you should cook each ingredients – ranging from 30 seconds (sliced green bamboo shoots), to 8 minutes (pig’s brain). Following the guide ensures that you don’t overcook certain items to the point where flavor is lost, or worse, under cook dishes and end up having an washing machine within…
Their rice cake & fried crispy meat are two of the ready-to-eat items we tried, and both are pretty delicious too. The rice cake should be consumed soonest possible to enjoy that crispy on the outside and soft inside texture.
As a rule of thumb, meat is best cooked in the clear or spicy soup, while vege goes better with tomato/clear soup, as advised by the head chef from Chengdu. These sort of pairing ensures that taste doesn’t clash, sorta like how you pair red with meat, and white with seafood kinda idea.
Overall I got to say that this was one of the best hotpot I had recently, the super thick tomato soup, to the aroma from the red spicy soup, and all those fancy, fresh, and mostly imported ingredients. I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again for more mala goodness.