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MáLà Project

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122 First Ave., New York, NY 10009 40.727104 -73.985363
nr. E. 7th St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-353-8880 Send to Phone

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  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Price Range: $$

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Photo by Angela Datre

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Official Website

malaproject.nyc

Hours

Sun-Wed, noon-4pm and 5pm-11pm; Thu-Sat, noon-4pm and 5pm-midnight

Nearby Subway Stops

6 at Astor Pl.; L at First Ave.

Prices

$12-$25

Payment Methods

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Special Features

  • Delivery
  • Good for Groups
  • Lunch
  • Family Style
  • Delivery after 10pm
  • Online Reservation

Alcohol

  • Beer and Wine Only

Reservations

Recommended

Profile

New York has long had an outsize reputation as a mecca for great Chinese food, but the truth is that China has been in the midst of a culinary revolution for decades now, and to get a truly authentic taste of newer regional delicacies, like Sichuan dry pot from Chengdu, say, or clams and scallions cooked in the latest Shanghai style, you had to hop a plane at JFK and visit the source. Not anymore. Thanks to a recent influx of cooks and restaurateurs from China itself, and to a new generation of curious, globe-trotting chefs, it’s possible to sample all sorts of exotic, cutting-edge provincial specialties without leaving your neighborhood. Or so a group of my old China-hand cronies and I thought to ourselves as we contemplated a strange, non-soupy bowl filled with, among other things, beef tripe, pig intestine, and an ingredient listed ominously on the menu as “Rooster’s XXX” at the popular neo-­Sichuanese dry-pot specialist on lower First Avenue called MáLà Project. Dry pot is a hipper, slightly more functional alternative to the viscously bubbling Sichuan hot pot, which became popular in the provincial capital of Chengdu during the ’80s, and the restaurant’s young proprietors, Ning Kang and Meng Ai, who come from the northern province of Hebei, reproduce the dish at their cozy establishment with a convert’s obsessive care. There are roughly 70 ingredients to choose from, at varying degrees of heat, and all are mixed together with plenty of cilantro and clouds of Sichuanese ma pepper in big bamboo bowls. Unless you wish to experience the full-on, hair-curling, ten-alarm Sichuan experience, stick to the “mild spicy” option, my old China-hand friends all agree, and be sure to supplement your feast with one or two of the more recognizable, non-dry-pot specialties, like crispy-thin scallion pancakes, pan-fried pork dumplings, and crunchy slivers of pig’s ear, slathered with chilI oil and crowned with more cooling sprigs of cilantro.

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