It's f%^&ing frigid outside. It's so cold that when wind hits your face it stings. Ughhh! Well, for most Chinese people, myself included, one of the first things we think about when temps drop below 0°C is hot pot. Actually, "winter" is synonymous with "hot pot" for us. For whatever reason, we all suddenly crave cooking a bunch of raw stuff in hot broths.
Morals Village currently ranks as my favourite all-you-can-eat ("AYCE") hot pot place. With locations in downtown Toronto, Markham and Mississauga, it's really easy for me to get to. Food quality is on point, veggies are cleaned thoroughly and service is always good. They offer a wide variety of meats and veggies for all your hot pot needs, and their sauce station and sweet buns make me happy.
Having said that, not everyone who wants hot pot necessarily wants to do AYCE every single time. I certainly feel that way because 1) restaurants usually charge a higher price for AYCE, and 2) I don't want to give myself that added pressure of having to "eat my money's worth". Let's face it, when it comes to AYCE we all end up eating way more then we should, with most of us hating ourselves afterwards.
Spicy Mafia (Instagram: @spicymafiato, Facebook: Spicy Mafia) in Markham is where you wanna be if you are looking for good, bargain hot pot that's not AYCE. From the same owners as Morals Village, Spicy Mafia is catered towards a younger crowd, made instantly obvious by the restaurant name itself and this large mural of mafia-style characters inside.
At Spicy Mafia, each guest orders from a prix-fixe menu and gets their own personal mini hot pot.
Hot pot combos are either $12.99 or $13.99 depending on the type of soup base. The combos come with your choice of:
1) Soup Base: Signature Spicy, Exclusive Spicy, Housemade Pork Bone, Chinese Angelica or Sweet Tomato Pork Bone;
2) Noodle: Rice vermicelli, fresh rice noodle, instant noodle, rice or Japanese udon;
3) Meat: New Zealand spring lamb, sliced pork or certified Angus beef; and
4) 2 Dipping Sauces: House made sesame, chopped garlic in oil, spicy powder, herbal sauce, house made spicy oil, house made fermented bean curd, coriander or scallion.
Additional meats, seafood, veggies and other toppings can be added to your combo, and they range from $1.50 to $2.50 per order.
Each combo also comes with a bowl filled with assorted vegetables and toppings, including luncheon meat, Japanese crab meat, Hong Kong style red sausage, white shrimp, tofu puff, napa cabbage, lettuce, lotus root, sweet corn, seaweed and enoki (below). I was really impressed at the amount of food in this bowl.
Flip to the other side of the menu and you'll see noodle combos. Continuing with the hot pot theme, all the noodles at Spicy Mafia are served in a hot pot; the only difference is that all the contents are already cooked. The noodle combos are either $9.99 or $10.99 depending on the type of soup base. For noodle combos, you can choose your:
1) Soup Base: Signature Spicy, Housemade Pork Bone, Sweet Tomato, Laksa or Chinese Pickled Pepper or Cabbage; and
2) Noodles: Rice vermicelli, fresh rice noodle, instant noodles or Japanese udon.
Much like the hot pot menu, the exact list of additional toppings are offered for the noodles combos as well. The right side of the menu lists snacks and drinks.
I ordered this Creamy Thai Coconut Slush ($4.99) and it was fantastic. It was cold and refreshing, ideal for hot pot.
The sides at Spicy Mafia range from $1.99 to $5.99. I highly suggest ordering a few snacks to munch on while waiting for your food to cook. The three snacks I had were all considerably tasty:
DICED CUCUMBER MIXED WITH WASABI OIL ($3.99)
FRIED PORK CHOP SERVED WITH TARTAR SAUCE ($3.99)
CHINESE HOT PEPPER CHICKEN ($5.99)
The Laksa ($10.99 noodle combo) was served in a hot pot with soup poured table side. It's ready to eat once the soup boils. This laksa was good. Really good. The broth was rich, vibrant and full of flavour, finished with a tropical creaminess from coconut milk.
Four people, four individual hot pots. Before we knew it our table was filled with food. This is how hot pot should be done. Always.
I think the name Spicy Mafia scares some people off, specifically those who can't eat spicy. But it's really misleading because three out of the five soup bases in the hot pot menu are not even spicy (and only one out of the five soup bases in the noodle menu is spicy). So, don't fret about the spiciness, guys. I got the "Housemade Porkbone Soup Base" and it was perfectly fine and not spicy at all.
I really like Spicy Mafia. I like how it's not AYCE. I like how it's a set menu but still offers guests options. I like how I can order a bowl of noodle soup served in a hot pot at Spicy Mafia without actually having hot pot. I like how my friends and I can afford to eat at Spicy Mafia as often as we want without breaking the bank.
*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*