MáLà Project

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86 Very Good

Fiery, peppercorn-flecked Sichuan dishes are the specialty at this cheerful restaurant that specializes in Chinese dry pot.

122 First Ave., New York, NY, 10009



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The lowdown

At this popular neo-­Sichuanese dry-pot specialist on lower First Avenue, look for a hipper, slightly more functional alternative to the viscously bubbling Sichuan hot pot. Owners Ning Kang and Meng Ai reproduce the dish at their cozy establishment with a convert’s obsessive care, using roughly 70 ingredients at varying degrees of heat and 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 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 chile oil and crowned with more cooling sprigs of cilantro.

What you need to know

Recommended DishesFish fillet; lotus root; wood ear; and bok choy; spinach salad with chile sesame paste; gold and silver manto.

DrinksBeer & Wine Only