SÌCHUĀN 四川: Or Szechuan, a province in southwest China. Famous for spicy food. Home of pandas.
WAKAME 海带: Seaweed.
DUÌ, DUÌ, DUÌ... 对: Yes, yes, yes...
Okay. Now you're a bit more prepared to navigate the menu at MáLà Project, the second outpost of that forever-packed East Village Chinese dry pot restaurant, now open in Midtown. (And if you don't yet feel prepared... they've placed a more intensive glossary of useful and less-useful terms called a menu right here.)
So you're coming for lunch sometime. Striding into the chic, industrial space, passing the navy velvet stools tucked under a curved glossy white bar, stopping for a moment to note the impressive floral arrangements, then eventually claiming a two-top in the back—seated across from someone you like who just so happens to also work in the area. We're hopeful romantics sometimes.
Start with some sticky rice-stuffed lotus root, spicy chicken with cucumber and pig ear in chili oil. You've got a lot of authentic small plates to choose from, and most are pretty conservatively sized, so go wild with it.
For the main event, there are ten set bowls for you to consider—like the I'm All In (pig intestine, konjac noodle, sweet potato, celtuce) or the Veggie Heaven (oyster mushroom, Chinese cabbage, sweet potato).
But building your own dry pot is also a thing. Start with how spicy you're hoping to make it, then add pork belly, bok choy, glass noodle... whatever you want, really. Make it yours.