Sichu Malatang brings authentic, Sichuan-style street food hotpot to Manila and it’s absolutely worth all the hype! We loved the authentic flavors and we were surprised to hear that all sauces and soup bases are made in house. And while I can’t say with certainty that Sichu is the best hotpot in Manila it sure as hell deserves to be in the top 5. (fight me! 😝)
What makes Sichu worth it (in my humblest of opinions) is that for the freshness and quality of ingredients they use, the price is very affordable, and the fact that they have streamlined the process into what owner Jeff Li calls ”Fastfood hotpot” makes it convenient for people on the go. Add on top, the fact that they have put in great efforts into making it easy for takeout orders and delivery under quarantine, Sichu has made dinning on a delicious restaurant-style meal, simple for you to prepare and enjoy in your own home.
Where You May Find This Quaint Establishment
You can visit Sichu’s location on the first floor of Double Dragon Plaza in Pasay City. It’s an average-sized restaurant, with limited seating available due to general quarantine safety measures.
If you’d prefer not to go out, the restaurant has a pretty efficient delivery service that caters to most of Metro Manila, we opted to take our meals out and found that ordering online was pretty easy.
(Dine-in guests are required to sit one seat apart and the establishment only permits a handful of guests to dine-in at one time.)
What and How to Order
Whether you’re ordering online or for dine-in the process is pretty straight forward. You’re encouraged to “build your own bowl” and you have the option of choosing from fresh and quality ingredients. The meats are choice cuts and veggies were all fresh, but best of all, they charge by the gram so no matter if you go all veggie, or all meat, or somewhere in between, the price is set.
You’re also given two sizes of bowls to choose from, here owner Jeff Li is showing us the 500g which you can pick up to 12 ingredients and the 1kg which gives you the option of 25 ingredients.
500g is good for 1-2 pax
1kg good for 3-4 pax
The easiest way, especially if you’re a first-timer, is to opt for 1 of their 3 Hot Pot Sets. And, because we happen to have our very own hotpot at the studio, so we decided on trying all 3 that they are offering at the moment. (Because, why not?)
The sets are handy because the ingredients are paired with the type of soup base you choose. And all the ingredients are conveniently labeled, so you know in what order to cook them in, giving you the best homestyle hotpot experience possible.
Szechuan Style 500 grams (₱550 – 12 Ingredients) – This is as traditional as it gets. Starting with the recommended Spicy Szechuan soup base. Ingredients include; Marbled / Fatty Beef, Streaky Pork Belly, Pork Intestines, Beef Tripe, Chicken Hearts, Tofu Skins, Wood Ear Mushrooms, Shiitake Mushrooms, Shimeji Mushrooms, Lotus Root, Wawacai / Baby Cabbage, Indian Lettuce, Spinach, and Cilantro.
Spicy Szechuan is the way to go, and of course, everything works in this set, especially if you like tripe and innards. The rich soup base just seems to meld so well with the deep earthy flavors you get with the ingredients. (Must try!)
All Meat 5oo grams (₱550 – 12 Ingredients) – A meat eaters dream! This comes recommended with the Mild soup base, probably so you can enjoy those delicious meaty flavors. Ingredients include; Marbled / Fatty Beef, Lean Beef Sirloin, Streaky Pork Belly, Lean Pork Strips, Pork Mushroom Balls, Pork Shrimp Dumplings, Taiwanese Sausage, Smoked Ham, Korean Sausage, Tofu, and Tofu Skin.
Filipino Favorites 500 grams (₱ 550 – 12 Ingredients) – This was designed with the Filipino in mind. A great addition, especially if your palette isn’t accustomed to the richness and spiciness of Szechuan cuisine. It comes with their (non-spicy) white soup base that’s surprisingly packed with tons of flavor. Ingredients include; Marbled / Fatty Beef, Lean Pork Strips, Special Squid Balls, Crab Roe Stuffed Balls, Lobster Balls, Cheese Balls, Fish Tofu, Korean Sausage, Crabsticks, Enoki Mushrooms, Bokchoy, and every Filipino’s favorite green, Kang-Kong.
Probably the weakest of the 3 sets, while I love the white non-spicy broth, I think it was a bit heavy on the meatballs, and could have gone with more veggies as the white broth is so flavorful, that the soup seemed slightly salty when everything was combined.
You’ll also notice in the pictures above every take-out order comes with a small side of spicy sesame dipping sauce. This dipping sauce is freaking delicious btw, and I haven’t tried anything remotely close to it since the last time I was in Hong Kong.
(I couldn’t get enough of this and next time I order from Sichu I’ll be snatching up an entire bucket, all for myself.)
It’s As Easy As 1 – 2 – 3
Preparations at home are quite easy as everything is labeled, so you don’t have to worry about messing things up. And if you don’t have a hotpot of your own, everything can be cooked in any old regular pot you have handy.
Firstly, measure out some water. The plastic bowls are conveniently marked where the water should be filled up too. (The take out bowls can be used for all sorts of things so don’t toss them, and remember to “recycle every day instead of throwing paper and plastic away.)
Next, add all the ingredients labeled 1. Start with soup base first and let it simmer for a few minutes before adding any additional ingredients also labeled 1. (You’ll want to scoop and scrape out all remaining base from the container, make sure you get every single drop.)
Your meats go in next which are labeled 1 also. Take your time to place them in, don’t just plop them in the soup, and make sure to give it a quick stir so the meat doesn’t get jumbled into a single meaty mass.
(HotPot ProTip: If you’re familiar with eating hot pots than you know that thinly sliced meats only need to be briefly simmered in the soup, so you can actually add the thinly sliced beef or pork belly in towards the end right before serving if you prefer more rare or tender cuts of meat.)
Second, in goes everything labeled with the number 2. This would typically be your veggies and items that don’t need as much cooking time. Now I suggest that you should toss in anything that will need to braise for a few moments first, like mushrooms or bokchoy, and then toss on your leafy vegetables right before serving to keep them from getting to soggy.
Lastly, add number 3, which is another house-made sauce that really elevates and makes this a malatang style hotpot.
Total Cooking time at home should only take around 10 minutes if not less. just be sure to keep an eye on you now completed soup.
Pig Out And Enjoy
After following the 3 easy steps, you’re all set to dive into your very own, Malatang Hot Pot!
The 500-gram size is good for sharing but if you’re like us, and love hot pot, you’d probably be able to smash one all by yourself.
Szechuan food is typically associated with hot and spicy, which is true when you compare it to other types of Chinese regional cuisine. But what think that tends to get overlooked, is the complexity that’s at the core of Szechuan cooking. There is so much such richness and depth of flavor in authentic Szechuan cooking, and any legit Szechuan restaurant, or any chef worth their salt, serving Szechuan style food, can express that complexity. The subtle sweetness and rich earthiness that should be perfectly balanced with spice and heat, all the things that give authentic Szechuan cuisine its unique characteristics. And I think they’ve nailed it at Sichu Malatang.
Their chef, whom I was told comes from China, makes all their soups and sauces in house and you can literally taste the experience and skill in just the broth alone. Homemade hotpot broth takes hours to prepare and if you’re looking for authenticity, ingredients have to be imported, and the technique that goes into making it, I’m sure takes years to perfect. So I appreciate it on that level alone. I really enjoyed Sichu and will be visiting them again in the near future for sure. Everyone who has tried it with me seems to agree, so I’m highly recommending them!
Great for the price given the quality of ingredients and how delicious the food is, the fact that they’ve gone to great lengths to make takeout and delivery simple and easy is a BIG plus, especially given the current state of GCQ (General Community Quarantine) in Metro Manila.
To be frank and perfectly honest, I personally haven’t tried any other hotpot (or Szechuan food for that matter) in the Philippines, that’s “blown my mind” or tried anything I’d call “spectacular”, and, unfortunately, most of my experiences have been mostly “meh”, (with very few exceptions). And like I’ve said, I haven’t tried every hotpot that Manila has to offer (especially the newer restaurants), so if you have any recommendations — please let me know in the comment section and I’ll be happy to pop in and give it a try. Thank You 🙂
Live an Awesome Life,
SEAN of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We paid for our own meals. I wrote this article with my own biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S.Also, try another of their house specialties, ‘Mala Xiangguo’, it’s basically a dry noodle dish using some of the Szechuan chili oil and sauces. This is surprisingly great also, and a good alternative if your not in the mood for HotPot but craving those amazing Sichuan Malatang HotPot flavors.