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A Cult-Favorite Sichuan Hot Pot Chain Has Arrived in Houston

Malubianbian’s Sichuan-style hot pots are now simmering in Asiatown

a hot pot bowl with several skewers of meat and whole red chilis floating in the broth
Malubianbian serve skewer-style hot pots in the manner of Chengdu street cuisine

Cult favorite Chinese chain Malubianbian, which serves up the Sichuan street food known as skewer-style hot pots, has opened a location in Houston.

The restaurant, at 9102 Bellaire Boulevard, opened in late January and is sure to be a hit amongst fans of Sichuan cuisine. An outpost in Los Angeles which opened in late 2019 was known for wait times of more than two hours.

Malubianbian, which means “side of the road,” was founded in 2016 and has already expanded to more than 1,000 locations worldwide. According to Eater LA, the name is a reference to the mom-and-pop stalls that permeated Chengdu streets in the 1980s and ‘90s, known for selling chuan chuan huo, or skewer-style hot pots. That nostalgia is also evoked in the Houston location’s decor, which includes faux neon signs and street scene murals meant to look like late 20th century Chengdu. Like all things Nineties, the restaurant is especially popular with young Millennials and Gen Zers.

Food-wise, Malubianbian allows diners to customize practically every aspect of their meal, There is a station where customers can mix their own sauces with a selection of ingredients including minced garlic, peppers, green onions, sesame oil, sesame paste and more. Then, diners choose from a selection of broths, which are made with 19 different herbs and spices and include three levels of heat, plus a vegetarian option.

From there, select your skewers — thin slices of protein, veggies like onions, mushrooms and peppers, and even game meat and organ meat — and cook them in the broth, This allows diners to choose many different dishes instead of having to order an entire plate of ingredients like at a typical hot pot restaurant. The restaurant serves other non-skewered items too, like brown sugar sticky rice cakes, spicy clams and glass noodles.

Malubianbian’s hours are 2 p.m. to midnight seven days a week. Don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a wait as hot pot enthusiasts flock to this exciting newcomer.