Ma la steamboat buffets to set your tongue ablaze
There’s no doubt about it: ma la is my go-to soup option whenever I’m having steamboat. Now, true Sichuan food enthusiasts will agree that ma la is more than just numbingly spicy; ma la is brimming with bold flavours and is peppery, slightly pungent and tangy at the same time. Sadly, not many restaurants execute it well, and there seems to be better a la carte options than ma la steamboat buffets in Singapore. So with much digging and burning of my tongue, I’ve managed to find eight affordable ma la steamboat buffets in Singapore that promise to tingle your taste buds.
1. King’s Laksa Steamboat
Image credit: King’s Laksa Steamboat’s Facebook Page
Tucked away in Teck Chye Terrace, King’s Laksa Steamboat pushes out a wide selection of ingredients to go with your steamboat. Think fresh flower crab, Chilean black mussels, sliced pork belly, white clams and silky laksa noodles! They also offer free-flowing cooked food like har cheong gai and chicken nuggets – perfect to munch on as you wait for your food to cook. While they are best known for their creamy laksa broth, their Sichuan ma la base is just as impressive and brings on a fiery heat.
Find out how their laksa broth tastes in our review of King’s Laksa Steamboat!
Address: 17 Teck Chye Terrace, Singapore 545724
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 11pm
Buffet prices: $21.80++ (Mon-Fri 11am to 2:59pm), $26.80++ (Sat-Sun 11am to 2:59pm, 3pm to 11pm daily)
Tel: 6287 8010
2. The Magic of Chongqing Hot Pot
Image credit: @gilliansng
Operating since 1994, The Magic of Chongqing Hot Pot pioneered Sichuan steamboat in Singapore. Their buffet menu is dotted with many interesting delights like carp fish fillet, tau pok with fish paste, hairy melon and buffalo tripe. They also offer three spice options – mild, standard and extra spicy – for their Ma-La Tang, so us punters can settle on a heat level we are comfortable with while not forgoing on taste.
Address: 19 Tanglin Road, #04-06/07, Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore 247909
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm
Buffet prices: $22.90++ (Mon-Thur lunch), $24.90++ (Fri-Sun lunch), $35.90++ (Mon-Thur dinner), $38.90++ (Fri-Sun dinner)
Tel: 6734 8135
3. Ma La Hui Cui Guan
Image credits: Ma La Hui Cui Guan’s Facebook Page
The only Muslim-owned Sichuan steamboat restaurant on our list, Ma La Hui Cui Guan’s a la carte buffet provides you with a personal pot with a choice of two soup bases. Aside from their special Sichuan spicy soup that delivers a fiery kick, we highly recommended ordering their green chilli soup too. Servings are generous, and you can expect a list of tantalising ingredients that will make your mouth water, with options like spicy beef tripe slices and spicy dry chilli chicken.
Address: 260 Middle Road, Singapore 188988
Opening hours: Daily 2pm to 6am
Buffet prices: $25+ (2pm to 5pm), $28+ (5pm to 6am)
Tel: 6333 5535
4. Guo Fu Steamboat
By straining their soup base, Guo Fu Steamboat saves you the hassle of sifting through the herbs and spices commonly found in ma la dishes. We found this made the ma la broth ($3++ for an individual portion) less piquant, which is great for those with a lower tolerance for spicy food. Their a la carte buffet menu is extensive too, with 60 different dishes to choose from, including duck’s gizzard, scallop and free-flowing xiao long bao!
Check out our full review of Guo Fu Steamboat!
Address: 20 Cross Street, #01-31, China Court, China Square Central, Singapore 048422
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 10:30pm
Buffet prices: $23.90++ (11:30am to 3pm daily), $25.90++ (Sun-Thur 3pm to 10:30pm), $27.90++ (Fri-Sat 3pm to 10:30pm)
Tel: 6557 0906
5. Hao Lai Wu
Easy on the pocket, plenty of grub, and a kitschy ambiance – we can’t find any faults with Hao Lai Wu. What’s more, their soups are all prepared upon order, giving diners the leeway to adjust the amount of chillies that go into their ma la broth. Being a grade-A klutz, I was also pleased that crystal pots are used instead of the traditional metal steamboat. Not only does it look really pretty, but it also helps prevent burns too! Despite the low pricing, they also offer a plethora of sumptuous Sichuan dishes, dumplings and mantou.
Find out what else is served at Hao Lai Wu.
Address: 8 Sago Street, Singapore 059012
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 3am
Buffet prices: $16.80+ (Mon-Thur 11am to 3pm), $21.80+ (Fri-Sun 11am to 3pm and 3pm to 3am daily)
Tel: 6221 0065
6. Hai Xian Lao
Image credit: Hai Xian Lao’s Facebook Page
Dine in style as you sink into plush leather chairs at Hai Xian Lao. Be prepared for your nose to run as their Sichuan spicy soup base is loaded with spices. Sadly, their buffet spread is pretty thin and you can only get one serving of live tiger prawns. Nonetheless, what they lack in quantity is certainly made up in terms of quality, and you can look forward to an array of choice ingredients as well as excellent service.
Address: 8 Wilkie Road, #01-21, Wilkie Edge, Singapore 228095
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 5am
Buffet prices: $26.80++ (11:30am to 5pm), $34.80++ (5pm to 10pm)
Tel: 6509 6194
7. Zao Lek Lok Lok
Zao Lek Lok Lok combines two of my favourite things – lok lok and ma la! For $24 nett, you get access to an endless supply of tantalising skewered grub such as duck, prawns and sotong, as well as two soup bases of your choosing. Unlike other ma la hot pot buffets, the broth here is slightly saltier, as it’s mainly meant for dipping and seasoning rather than drinking.
Check out our full review of Zao Lek Lok Lok!
Address: 207 Hougang Street 21, Paya Lebar Kovan CC, Singapore 530207
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 5:30pm to 11:30pm
Buffet prices: $24 (Tue-Thur), $27 (Fri-Sun)
8. Goro Goro Steamboat & Korean Buffet
Image credit: @sherlynnai
Ma la steamboat and an endless supply of Korean goodies? It’s no wonder Goro Goro Steamboat & Korean Buffet is such a popular dining joint. Look forward to a spread of cooked food such as salted egg popcorn chicken, tteokbokki and japchae, as well as ingredients to go with your ma la hot pot.
Address: 218 Orchard Road, #04-01, Orchard Gateway@Emerald, Singapore 238851
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 3pm, 5pm to 10:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am to 3:30pm, 5pm to 10:30pm
Buffet prices: $16.80++ (Mon-Fri lunch), $26.80++ (Sat-Sun lunch and Mon-Thur dinner), $28.80++ (Fri-Sun dinner)
Tel: 6385 7854
Hot Hot Heat
As a nation that loves its spices, ma la is a food import that has certainly become in grained into Singapore’s dining culture. But if ma la hot pot does nothing for you, check out these 10 spiciest restaurants in Singapore instead.