WHO’S IN CHARGE Malden resident Fan Huang has run several businesses in town, and about four years ago he opened a Spicy World restaurant in Chinatown in Boston. But he sees Malden as a growing destination for Asian cuisine. So he recently took over a former restaurant space downtown on Pleasant Street and opened a second Spicy World. The 33-year-old is bursting with enthusiasm about his newest venture — it serves real Chinese food made from traditional recipes, he says. “I taught the chefs how to cook.”
THE LOCALE The décor is nondescript and serviceable. There’s a full-service bar, however, which includes gaming consoles for classic video games of the 1980s and 1990s. There’s room to seat more than 100 people. Service on our visits was extremely prompt and the prices are more than reasonable.
ON THE MENU There is an extensive menu, with dishes ranging from spicy tofu pudding ($7) to spicy crab ($15) to pickled chicken feet ($10). But the real specialty of Spicy World are the Sichuan skewer pots. Select your spice level (from 0 to 5) and then choose from a variety of noodles, vegetables, and meats, which are then cooked and brought to the table in a hot broth. About that broth: Here’s where Spicy World lives up to its name. Even if you are wimps — like my dining crew — and choose the spice level 1, you will get a blast of heat from every mouthful.
For one skewer pot, we chose ramen noodles ($3), bok choy ($1 per skewer), shitake mushrooms ($1), tofu knot or firm tofu twisted in a knot ($1), and beef, pork chicken, and shrimp (each $1 per skewer). For another pot, we sampled vermicelli noodles ($3), napa cabbage ($1), winter melon ($1), lamb ($1), mini sausage ($1), and fish tofu ($1). Mixing and matching is part of the experience. Everything tasted fresh — the ramen noodles were rich and chewy and the meats were savory, particularly the mini sausage and the beef. The whole shrimp were a bit challenging to shell and the tofu knot was a bit tough. But if you like things hot — oh la la.
There is another option for the non-spice-types: dumplings. Made on the premises, this is another Spicy World specialty, and no wonder; they are extremely fresh and tasty. We sampled the pork chives dumplings ($7), pork cabbage dumplings ($7), chicken spinach dumplings ($7), carrot fungus and corn dumplings ($7), and seafood dumplings ($9). All were moist, savory, and excellent. Dumplings are served with hot sauce on the side for those who crave the Spicy World experience.
Spicy World, 157 Pleasant St., Malden, 781-338-9888.
Stephanie Schorow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.