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San Francisco Bay Area Lunch Hot Pot

Lunch Special at Ninji Mala Hot Pot, Newark


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Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Lunch Hot Pot

Lunch Special at Ninji Mala Hot Pot, Newark

Melanie Wong | | Feb 27, 2006 02:49 AM

The requests for hot pot and Taiwanese places on the board reminded me to post about my lunch at Ninji Mala Hot Pot last month. Both KK and tanspace have recommended the place highly, so I made a point to check it out when I had some shopping to do at the Lion in Newark. Some signs in the window promoted a lunch special for $7.99. I stepped in to ask if it were possible for just one person to have hot pot, soon I was sitting down for lunch.

The broths come in regular and numbing spicy (ma la). When I asked for ma la, my waiter sized me up then shook his head. I persisted, telling him that I liked hot food. He reluctantly agreed but said that he'd order mine "mild spicy". With that act, he might have saved my life. The mild spicy broth was one of the hottest things I've ever been served, still it was incredibly delicious for seasoning my food as well. The induction cooktop was a welcome change from sterno, as I dislike the smell of burning fuel on my tabletop, and it was easy to adjust the cooking temperature as well. I did miss being able to drink the broth after cooking my food in it though.

I picked lamb as my choice of meat, which was good quality, semi-frozen and sliced very thin. I also ordered an extra side of prawns to hedge my bets. The pot of broth hid many rectangles of firm tofu saturated with fiery seasonings. They tasted great once I learned to live with the pain. With these and the plate of fresh accompaniments (fish balls, surimi, mushrooms, fried tofu balls, napa cabbage, spinach, baby corn, cellophane noodles, and more that I'm forgetting), I was more than stuffed. The many glasses of water I downed to quench the flames probably took up much of my eating capacity.

A side bar holds condiments for mixing your own dipping sauce. The sesame paste and garlic-infused sacha sauce were great and my own blend was heavy on these elements.

This was a great rec and I'll add myself to the list of fans now.