When our Taiwanese cousins asked if we wanted to try spicy hot pot for dinner one night, my answer was predictable: yes, and when are we leaving?
Man Tang Hong is a busy hot pot restaurant on the second floor of a building in downtown Taipei. The specialty is mala hot pot – spicy broth with duck blood and fried tofu (that’s just the start… you end up adding a lot of other stuff from the menu. It’s the ultimate bargain: NT$500 (about $16 USD) gets you unlimited hot pot selections, soft drinks (in glass bottles), Häagen-Dazs, and meiji ice cream. You get two hours to eat as much of this stuff as you want.
You’ll start by making your own custom sauce from the buffet-like sauce table. Everyone has their own way to do it. Someone suggested to me a raw egg mixed with Chinese barbeque sauce and soy sauce, which I tried and liked. Others in our party preferred to simply combine scallions and vinegar.
The way hot pot works is that you get a bowl of broth going on the table and then order things to cook in it. There is an English menu available, but our cousins did a fine job of ordering a ton of stuff right off the bat.
Things started simply enough, with a pot split in half, and full of vegetable and spicy broth. How spicy? Well, the spice is there, but it’s not a No Reservations diarrhea-episode spice. Which, despite my enthusiasm for spicy food, is probably a good thing.
Then the duck blood started coming. Heaven.
Then the tofu. And the cabbage, and mushrooms, and…
Pig intestine, pork belly, handmade shrimp balls, sliced beef, cuttlefish…
Fast and furious, the food just kept coming. Short ribs, beef chuck, more tofu, more duck blood, baby corn… speaking of which:
Have you ever seen a baby corn in its baby husk? I thought it was cool.
Lots of rou (meat)… all Fong Yi wanted to order was more meat! I could barely keep up. I thought the barrage would never end, and I loved it.
By the end, we had ordered what seemed like everything on the menu… it was like a disaster zone. What appears in the photo below is just the last round of plates… many, many others were cleared away before this.
Above: Fong Yi, Sarah, Sho, Tina, and Teresa. (I’m behind the camera, of course.) We had so much fun with everyone!
This was a fantastic, fun meal that we totally got into and enjoyed together as family. I could smell the spicy hot-pot aroma on my jacket for days… totally worth it! I wish I could go back right now…
Man Tang Hong
185 Song Jiang Road, 2nd floor
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