EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan - Nothing will warm you up better in these frigid temperatures than a hot and spicy meal.
If you're familiar with Chinese cooking, you may have heard of hot pots.
This week on Neighborhood Eats, we visit Mala Project and try their dry pots.
The restaurant is located at 122 First Avenue in the East Village.
Look for the red entrance on First Avenue and the Chinese lanterns and you'll find Mala Project.
It's a restaurant opened by Amelie Ning Kang and Meng Ai best friends from China who missed the food from home.
"It's like that nostalgia, how are you going to cure that?" Ning Kang said
The cure is in dry pots, a bowl of wok fried items and 24 spices, some of which have medicinal qualities and are often filled with organ meats, like kidneys and intestines.
There are 70 items to choose from.
Dry pots are meant to be shared and are often very spicy. Thanks to Sichuan peppers, they have a numbing quality, so does the Xiang xi fried rice.
The chef quickly scrambles an egg and adds in pickled peas, bacon and chilies.
The steamed rice is added along with soy sauce and sesame oil.
But not everything will leave you on fire, like the Chinese fried chicken or the sticky rice with dates.
But this East Village spot doesn't feel like your typical Chinese restaurant in America, and that's part of the idea.
The two owners want Mala Project to be a new experience for diners.
"It's good we can bring this idea from China to New York and all people and know it and try it and like it," Ai said.
Xiang Xi Fried Rice
30 minutes, 6 servings
2 cups white rice
4 cups water
2/3 cup Chinese Bacon
1/2 cup pickled peas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup scallions
1 dry chili pepper
soy sauce to taste
sesame oil, to taste (optional)
In a rice cooker, combine rice and water. Follow rice cooker instructions to make fully cooked steam rice. Or use leftover white rice.
Heat wok over high heat. Pour in oil, then stir in scallion, chili pepper, Chinese bacon; cook about 30 seconds. Crack in eggs, stirring quickly to scramble eggs with vegetables. Stir in cooked rice. Shake in soy sauce, and toss rice to coat. Drizzle with sesame oil, and toss again.