Korea’s Mala Boom Finally Hits Songdo


By Sohyun (Sophia) Jeon

Huahuakungju, a Malatang (Chinese spicy soup) restaurant newly opened in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea has gained a large amount of popularity in a short period of time.

Huahuakungju was opened on September 4th, on the first floor of Building C at Triple Street, a street-type multi-complex shopping mall located in Songdo. Within a month of opening, the restaurant has become very popular with the younger generation, particularly with students.

Even late in the evening, many people could be found lining up in front of the restaurant, despite a fully packed waiting list. These individuals were mostly high school students in uniforms and college students from the Incheon Global Campus and Yonsei University located near Triple Street.

Huahuakungju’s surge of popularity in such a short period of time seems to be largely attributable to the Mala boom that has recently been taking place in South Korea.

Huahuakungju’s ‘Malatang (left)’, ‘Malashangguo (Middle)’ and ‘Guobaorou (right)’

Malatang hot pot and Malashangguo, both made from a very spicy Chinese sauce known as Mala, have been very popular in recent years with Koreans who enjoy spicy dishes. Due to the increasing number of ‘Mala manias’ (individuals who actively seek out Mala-based dishes), a variety of different foods made from this sauce, such as ‘Malatangmyeon’ (Mala ramen noodles), and ‘Malacan’ (Mala sauced fried chicken), have seen an increase in production.

‘Malatangmyeon (left)’ www.samyangfoods.com, ‘Malacan (right)’ www.bhc.co.kr 

On the other hand, because Mala dishes tend to be very oily and have a strong distinctive taste, some people have found themselves avoiding the cuisine entirely.